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18.05.2001 - The First Issue of the TACIS Project "Euregio "Karelia" as a Tool of Civil Society" Information Bulletin has Appeared

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The Main Topics of the Bulletin N1
of the TACIS Project "Euregio "Karelia" as a Tool of Civil Society"


Greeting of Sergey Katanandov, Head of the Government of the Republic of Karelia

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Head of the Government of the Republic of Karelia Sergey Katanandov Here is the first issue of Bulletin devoted to Euregio Karelia. Our Euregio is very young, but long and positive experience of cooperation between the Republic of Karelia and border areas of Finland, i.e. Regional Councils of Kainuu, Northern Karelia and Northern Ostrobothnia, has preceded its foundation. In the course of last years of cooperation we have succeeded in reaching an understanding with our neighbors: hundreds of joint Russian and Finnish projects have been implemented; economic cooperation between border areas has livened up; sister relations have actively developed. In our republic we are using approaches to border cooperation stated in the Concept of Border Cooperation in the Russian Federation. Developing our relations with Finland we develop also trade, economic, cultural and scientific contacts with other Russian regions, we put into effect initiatives expounded in the Concept of Social and Economic Development of the Republic of Karelia, 2002-2010. In 2000 we have made a very important step in coordinating efforts in the field of further development of transborder contacts: we have elaborated the programme named "Our common border" where we have taken into account provisions of the Karelia's Cross Border Cooperation Programme, 2001 2006 and Interreg IIIA Karelia Programme. All this has allowed us to move to a higher level of contacts with Finland's regions.

We hope that cooperating within Euregio Karelia will contribute to further intensification of mutual understanding and confidence between our countries and also facilitate efforts of the Russian Federation in approaching European Union.

Sincerely,

Chairman of the Government Republic of Karelia,
Member of Presidium of State Council
Serguei Katanandov


Greeting of Kainuu Hannes Kemppainen, Head of the Regional Council

Dear readers!

The Head of the Regional Council Kainuu Hannes Kemppainen One year has already passed since establishment of Euregio Karelia. In the course of this year we have been laying foundation of our future cooperation. The programme "Our common border in 2001 2006" representing Action Programme for next years was approved at the Second Meeting of the Administrative Committee. This programme is updated and verified in accordance with annual action plans. The document includes a list of prioritized projects that participants of Euregio desire to implement.

We set all our hopes on Euregio and we believe that such a form of interaction has good prospects. Our aim is to create a new model of transborder cooperation between the Regional Councils of Kainuu, Northern Karelia, Northern Ostrobothnia and the Republic of Karelia. Removal of barriers preventing co-operation between territories is also one of our objectives. First of all, development of communication between people from border areas seems to be significant.

In 2000 we have started implementing the third stage of the Interreg III A Karelia programme. Cross Border Cooperation projects of the Regional Councils of Kainuu, Northern Karelia, Northern Ostrobothnia and the Republic of Karelia are financed within the framework of this programme.

Projects oriented to development of economic and scientific co-operation, to cooperation in the field of Education and Culture, as well as projects oriented to improvement of transport infrastructure in border areas shall be implemented within the framework of Interreg III A Karelia Programme in 2000 2006.

I am convinced that we are moving to a new stage of cooperation between our territories. Regardless of such a short period of time the activity of Euregio Karelia has already roused interest not only at regional level but also at international level. Our Euregio represents a unique border community on external borders of EU. It can serve as a specific example of filling in EU policy the Northern Dimension with concrete content. Border territory of our states is famous for its beautiful and rich nature that is a strong side of our cooperation. Our common culture based on Karelian and Finnish epos "Kalevala", ancient trade roads of merchants linked our territories in 18 century are natural prerequisites for development of cooperation at the current stage including through modern communication means and high technologies.

Sincerely,

Chairman of Regional Council of Kainuu
Co-chairman of the Euregio Karelia
Administrative Committee
Hannes Kemppainen


Valery Shljamin
Minister of Foreign Relations Republic of Karelia
Co-chairperson of Euregio Karelia
Administrative Committee

Euregio Karelia new challenges and new opportunities

There would be no exaggeration if we say that in 2000 Karelia attracted attention of many European and Russian experts in the field of Regional Policy. On one hand the Republic of Karelia is a subject of the Russian Federation occupying an important strategic position in Barents and Baltic Sea Regions, which is located on the way of future transborder projects and which has lately brought up a few initiatives in the field of strategic planning of inter-regional interaction. On the other hand it is Euregio Karelia which is an international formation of border areas of Russia and Finland. Last year the new Euregio Concept was recognized and approved in Moscow and Helsinki, as well as in EU capital Brussels. It was also recognized by local authorities of districts, towns, communes, by non-governmental organizations, by representatives of business circles and youth, by mass media. For about 6 years we have been conducting a dialogue with our partners in Finland and EU on necessity to coordinate national and regional program of social and economic development with EU programmes like Tacis and Interreg. And at last by the present time sings of mutual understanding have started showing. We have managed to do one main thing, t.i. we have got a principal consent of all concerned parties to harmonize these programmes. Next step to be undertaken is to define a mechanism of establishing a regional quote for the new formation of Euregio Karelia. We seem to have introduced rather attractive proposals on preparation, selection of prioritized projects, their financing by municipal, regional, national and international funds, their monitoring with participation of observers from the European Commission, the Ministries of Foreign Relations of Russia and Finland. Our Consultative Commission consisting of the representatives of the Parliaments of Finland and Karelia and municipalities' leaders has been operating for 10 years. Karelian and Finnish Workshop on cooperation of border regions at ministerial level has been working for 9 years. Sister relationship established between Karelian towns and districts and over 60 town and communes in Finland has become a very meaningful factor. The Euregio Karelia Administrative Committee has started working in February, 2000. It consists of heads of a few Karelian Ministries and leaders of Border Regional Councils in Finland. On the whole we succeeded in establishing an optimal organizational structure of cooperation between border regions. Having constant contacts we have worked out step by step approaches to joint planning of border cooperation. It should be noted that the essential principles of our cooperation are as follows: mutual appreciation of interests of neighbors on both sides of the border and appreciation of interests of European partners, transparency and publicity. Experience of joint implementation of more than 300 projects serves as a good base of confidence between partners. Euregio Karelia being a pilot territory like Kaliningrad region can become a specific laboratory where are used new forms of transborder cooperation, joint entrepreneurship, cultural mutual penetration, scientific exchanges, contacts between youth. All this will contribute to sustainable development of territories and will equilibrate social standards on both sides of the border.

Besides we consider Euregio Karelia as an initial element of spatial planning of social and economic development of border regions. It is possible to come up to joint investment planning in the nearest future for instance in forest sector of the economy. The Government of the Republic of Karelia and the Finish Swedish Company 'Stora Enso' have expressed a mutual interest not only in specific point projects but in a deeper systematic approach to problems of non-exhausting forest use and reforestation in the Republic of Karelia through using domestic experience and Scandinavian technologies. In any case in our opinion EU policy the Northern Dimension as well as the Russian medium-term strategy oriented to EU shall have no good prospects if joint spatial planning tools are not used at sub-regional level. We need a general logic of selecting mutually advantageous transborder projects which shall make Northern Europe more attractive in terms of investment region all over the world. Euregio Karelia is aimed at this purpose.

In connection with the aforesaid let me mention the project named "Spatial planning in Euregio Karelia". Within the framework of this project an analytical report on current state of border regions and maps of a scale 1:100000 showing perspective objects of transport, technical and customs infrastructure were made up. This is a joint work done by Karelian and Finish specialists, experts, representatives of civil and municipal servants.

Establishment of Euregio Karelia has given an impulse to develop joint social projects in the field of Health Care, Social Defense, Education, support to Finnish and Karelian culture in the Republic of Karelia. Foundation of Ethnic and Cultural Center using the plot of worldly famous epos "Kalevala" has started in Kalevala and Kostomuksha. Future generations will have an opportunity to appreciate completely a unique beauty of Karelian culture which doubtlessly occupies a merited place in a range of other European cultures. That is why we hope to get support to the project initiated by local authorities from European Union.

Moreover Euregio Karelia for us is an opportunity to study energetically European experience in the field of Regional Administration, Local Self-Government, Civil Society Building and to use this experience in carrying out reforms in the Republic. We are elaborating the Concept of Social and Economic Development of Karelia for 2002 2006. Its qualitative difference from similar documents will be a comprehensive consideration of all new challenges and opportunities that Euregio Karelia has brought in our life.


Euregio Karelia general information

Euregio is an area formed by three regional councils of Finland Kainuu, Northern Karelia and Northern Ostrobothnia, and the Republic of Karelia of the Russian Federation.

The territory of Euregio Karelia is extending from the Gulf of Bothnia of the Baltic Sea to the White Sea, and from the polar circle to Ladoga Lake. The most part of it is situated between 62 and 66 degrees of latitude and 24 and 34 degrees of longitude. The total area of the territory is about 263700 km 2, besides Karelia covers two-thirds of this area. The area of the Republic of Karelia is 180 500 km2, which is equal to the half of the territory of Finland. The area of the Finnish part of the euregio is 83 167 km2. It will take you only a couple of hours to get from Kajaani to Kostamuksha through Vartius-Lytta cross-border point, as well as from Joensuu to Sortavala through Vartsila Niirala cross-border point.

The area of the Finnish part of the Euregio forms the forth part of the total area of Finland, but only 12% of population of the whole country live there. The Republic of Karelia covers a bit more than one percent of the total area of the Russian Federation, and its population is about 0,5% of the whole country's population. The length of the common border between Russia and Finland is 1300 km. 750 km of the total length belong to the territory of Euregio Karelia.

The overall population of Euregio Karelia is 1 400 000 people. The majority (775 000 people) lives on the territory of the Republic of Karelia and 626 000 in Finland. Lately the population on this territory has reduced in comparison with the previous decade. Density of the population on this territory is quite scarce, is a bit more than 5 people per 1 km2. There are unsettled areas on both sides of the border. Cities are comparatively more populated.

In the structure of the economy of Euregio Karelia the leading position hold services both in the Republic of Karelia and in the Regional Councils. At least two-thirds of the working population is emloyed in this sphere. On the second place industry and construction, after them go agriculture and forestry.

From the point of economic income the main sphere of economy in the Republic of Karelia is industry, but the sphere of services creates the majority of working places 63% of the total number of working places in the Republic of Karelia. This sphere keeps growing especially in the field of transportation. It is expected that in the nearest future tourism will become an important source of income.

The structures of economies of the Regional Councils of Finland have much in common. A small difference can be noticed at the level of communes and provinces. Every tenth person of the total working population is employed in agriculture and forestry, every fourth in industry and construction.

This structure reflects the economy based on natural resources. The modern industry is developed even less than on the average in all regions. Industry's up-to-dating can reduce migration of the population, but it will take time to settle people on this territory.


"Euregio Karelia as a tool for civil society"- project

The partners of the "Euregio Karelia- as a tool for civil society" project are the Regional Councils of Finland Kainuu, Northern Karelia and Northern Ostrobothnia - and the Ministry of Foreign Relations of the Republic of Karelia. The purpose of the project is to launch an information-dissemination campaign to make Euregio Karelia known both internationally and regionally. Both traditional methods (publications in magazines and newspapers) as well as modern communication modes such as Internet and video will be used in Russia and abroad to achieve this purpose.

The following activities will be implemented within the project:

  • Design and implementation of Euregio Karelia video film in Russian, Finnish and English languages. The film will provide a comprehensive picture of Euregio Karelia, prerequisites of its foundation and potential for development of co-operation in border areas;
  • Creation of Euregio Karelia's www-pages (Ru, Fi, En). Information about Euregio Karelia's activity, on-going projects and news of cross-border co- operation will be presented in Internet at these pages;
  • Arrangement of seminars dedicated to development of co-operation in border regions of Russia and Finland;
  • Producing of Euregio Karelia bulletins (Ru, Fi, En) depicting everyday life on the territory of Euregio Karelia.

Establishment of Euregio Karelia

  • January, 1998 at the international seminar "EU borders- soft borders" hold in Joensuu (Finland) the Government of the Republic of Karelia presented the idea of creation of Euregio Karelia, which later on was supported by the leaders of the Regional Councils of Finland Kainuu, Northern Karelia and Northern Ostrobothnia;
  • June, 1998 the idea of establishing a new model for cross-border cooperation in the North of Europe was approved by the Consultative Committee of the subjects of the Russian Federation:
  • September, 1998 the Administrative Committee of Interreg-IIA-Karelia provided funding for the preparation of the Euregio Karelia concept;
  • October, 1998 at the international seminar "Future Interreg-III" hold in Vaasa (Finland) the project "Euregio Karelia" and Finnish-Estonian "Euregio 3+3" was supported by the Ministry of internal affairs of Finland;
  • October, 1999 the initiative was supported in DJ I and XVI of the European Commission, Brussels;
  • October 1999 in European commission at the international conference Interreg- Infoday hold in Brussels the concept of Euregio Karelia was presented;
  • November, 1999 the idea of Euregio was supported at the international conference concerning cross-border cooperation under the aegis of the Council of Europe hold in cities of Kuhmo (Finland) and Kostomuksha (Russia);
  • February, 2000 the formation of Euregio Karelia was confirmed at the I session of the Euregio Administrative Committee in Joensuu (Finland) by signing foundation documents;
  • October, 2000 The Government of the Republic of Karelia approved "The program of cross-border cooperation of the Republic of Karelia for 2002-2006". The Government of Finland approved and sent to the European Union the program Interreg-IIIA-Karelia. The programs comprised common parts and areas of cooperation;
  • November, 2000 common Program of Activities for 2001-2006 and Action plan for the following year comprising a list of 9 prioritised projects for implementation were approved at the II session of the Euregio Administrative committee hold in Kostomuksha (Russia);
  • January 2001 the Euregio's activities were supported by EU Tacis/CBC program: European Commission provided funding (EURO 160 000) for the "Euregio Karelia as a tool for civil society" project.

Program "Our common border 2001-2006"

The Program Our common border 2001-2006 is based on two programs "The program of cross-border co-operation of the Republic of Karelia for 2001-2006" and "Interreg-IIIA-Karelia 2000-2006". This program is the basis for co-operation within the framework of Euregio Karelia. According to the European experts' opinion this is a unique document in its way, because there is no similar examples either in European Union or in Russia. One of the objectives of this program is to present to European Union common approach of the Finland's and Russian Federation's border regions to problems facing in cross-border co-operation and to transfer decision-making powers on Tacis/CBC projects to the regional level.

The program comprises a list of prioritised projects, which the parties of Euregio Karelia undertake to implement:

  1. Development of the cross-border point Kortesalmi-Suopera in accordance with standards required to international cross-border points
  2. Sortavala sewage treatment works rehabilitation
  3. Special industrial complex in Kostamuksha (PIK)
  4. Joensuu and Petrozavodsk as centres of scientific co-operation
  5. Support to Finnish language and Karelian culture through National theatre of the Republic of Karelia
  6. Development of health care and social services in Karelia under changing conditions
  7. Construction of heating power stations utilising local fuel resources in Kalevala and Lahdenpohja
  8. Social and medical rehabilitation of drag addicts and prophylactics of dependence on psychedelic substances in Karelia
  9. Development of border areas of Belomorskaya Karelia

The following spheres of co-operation are acknowledged as long-term objectives, which can form independent "umbrella"-projects:

  • Support to civil society development in Karelia
  • Strategy of informational society development

The list of aforementioned projects will be up-to-dated in the course of work.


Activities for the year 2001

  • March Producing of Euregio Karelia bulletin #1;
  • 29-30 March III meeting of the Euregio Administrative Committee in Oulu, Finland
  • 18-19 April arranging of information seminar Euregio Karelia - new opportunities for co-operation between Finland and Karelia, Kostomuksha, Russia;
  • 14-16 May the IX th session of Russin-Finnish Intergovernmental Woking Grope on between Border Areas Co-operation;
  • May June a seminar under the aegis of the Ministry of finance of Finland concerning the issues of local and regional self-government;
  • July Design and implementation of Euregio Karelia video film;
  • September - IVth meeting of the Euregio Karelia Administrative committee in the Republic of Karelia;
  • September visit of the Minister on border region co-operation of Finland J.E.Enestam to the Republic of Karelia;
  • October arranging of seminar within the framework of "Euregio Karelia as a tool for civil society" project in Joensuu, Finland;
  • October- November meeting of chairmen of the Karelian-Finnish Working Grope on Border Region Co-operation in the Republic of Karelia;
  • November creating of Euregio Karelia Internet-site;
  • December producing of Euregio Karelia bulletin #2.
Last updated: 21 May 2001
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Created: 21 May 2001. Last updated: 21 May 2001.
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