International and inter-regional cooperation
In 2007, as well as in the previous period, Government of the Republic of Karelia within the framework of its competence copleted the task set in the Address of the President of the Russian Federation to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on turning frontier regions in basic territories of cooperation of Russia with neighbouring states. Involvement of resources of international cooperation for improvement of conditions of social and economic development of the republic was provided. At the federal and international levels the largest project initiatives were promoted, work with federal authorities on preservation and development of frontier-customs infrastructure continued.
In 2007 100 noncommercial international projects which external financing exceeded €5 million were implemented in Karelia.
Two-year-long presidency of the Republic of Karelia in the Regional Council of the Barents Euro-Arctic of Region (further BEAR Council) was completed successfully, that has improved conditions of realization of our interests in Barents cooperation, promoted growth of international popularity and prestige of Karelia as a Russian frontier region.
Youth Barents Program was approved. Parliamentary association of the Northwest of Russia was given a status of the Observer in the Regional Council. Continuation of activity of Karelian Barents Information Centre was provided. Due to presidency of the Russian Federation in BEAR Council offers were prepared and sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Ministry of Regional Development of Russia and plenipotentiary of the President of the Russian Federation in the Northwest Federal District, and accepted as a whole.
Selection of projects of the three-year regional program of the Neighbourhood - Euroregion Karelia EU frontier cooperation was completed. Within the scope of this program for the first time there has been realized the right of direct participation rendered to regions in selection of projects that has increased their social and economic importance. In territory of the republic realization of 21 projects with €1,5 million of the EU annual financing was conducted. Over 70% of projects are implemented in the sphere of economy (logistics, new technologies, creation of preconditions for organization of new enterprises, development of tourism, power engineering). Government of Karelia provides participation in supervising and working bodies of the program, project monitoring was organised, including Barents-Link Forum and Development of Syväoro Check Point project monitoring.
Together with the authorized Russian and Finnish ministries the new regional program Karelia of the EU frontier cooperation through to 2013 is developed as a whole. Participation of representatives of Government of the republic in sessions of working groups for the program development was provided that has allowed to realize frame interests of Karelia in its project, expand opportunities for involvement of financing from the EU funds. It is expected, that the program implementation will begin in the second half year of 2008 Volume of financing from the EU will make €23,2 million. Its priorities are economic development, effective and safe borders, environmental safety, public health services, culture and education, support of local self-government and civil society. Government of the republic submitted its offers to the Council of Federation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Regional Development of Russia, plenipotentiary of the President of the Russian Federation in the NWFD on co-financing of programs from the federal budget. As a result such co-financing, provided for the first time, will make €11,6 million. Public hearings of the program project were organized and held.
Upon recommendation of the Government of Karelia, in the list of Russian offers in Northern Dimension (joint policy of Russia, EU, Norway and Iceland) there have been included the Barents-Link railway corridor and construction of Syväoro international check piont with providing infrastructure. Now the concept of new Northern Dimension Partnership of in the field of transport and logistics is developed.
Within the scope of work of intergovernmental Russian-Finnish working group on frontier cooperation in 2007 in territory of the republic there have been implemented 23 projects of cross-border cooperation with €1,7 million euro of financing from the budget of Finland. In the current year implementation of 22 projects with no less than €1,37 million of financing is coordinated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland.
Within the framework of the Memorandum with provincial government of Oulu (Finland) for 2007-2008 there have been held Russian-Finnish Art Caravan, seminars on development of tourism, a project in the ares of veteran organizations, etc. Multidimensional cooperation with three Finnish regional unions within the framework of the euroregion Karelia proceeded. At the federal level there have been achieved coordination of implementation of one of priority projects - cross-border fiber-optical communication line from Kuhmo to Kostomuksha. High-speed broadband communication vital for operating enterprises will improve conditions for involving investments, trade and remote higher education training. History of bilaterial relations and last achievements in cooperation are presented at the prepared exhibition Karelia and Finland. From the Border to Aspects of Cooperation in the museum of regional lore, history and economy. It is characteristic, that experience of the euroregion Karelia has been considered and esteemed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov at the special session of the Council of heads of subjects of the Federation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, held on December 26, 2007 in Kursk.
Government of the republic concludes reports on bilaterial cooperation with provincial government Västerbotten (Sweden) for 2007-2013 and with provincial government of Troms (Norway) for 2007-2009. Special agreement on financing Swedish-Karelian information business center in Petrozavodsk for 2007-2010 (up to 2 million rbl. annually) is signed by the province of Västerbotten. International conference on cooperation with Sweden in the sphere of power engineering and municipal infrastructure was held. Studying of aspects of cooperation in spheres of construction, power engineering and municipal infrastructure has begun. Realization of 9 joint projects with the province of Västerbotten, 10 projects with the province of Troms and 5 projects in the line of the Nordic council of Ministers was conducted.
Great resonance in economic, cultural and public life of the republic in 2007 was caused by such actions as Hungarian trade and economic mission led by the State secretary of Administration of the Prime Minister of Hungary Djerd Gilian, Days of the USA in Petrozavodsk and Days of Culture of China. Karelia was visited by delegations of foreign diplomatic representatives of Finland, Latvia, Estonia, the USA, Hungary, China, Denmark, Germany, Spain, India and Azerbaijan accredited in Moscow and St.-Petersburg; delegations of administrative-territorial formations of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Lithuania, Italy and China.
As a result of the work accomplished by Government of the republic together with Boundary service of FSS of Russia, the Order of FSS of Russia of April 11 about new limits of border zone in Karelia was prepared and issued. The border zone area is reduced 3-fold. The number of settlements in it has decreased 4-fold. Deduced from it are Kostomuksha, Kalevala, Kestenga, Päosersky, Ledmozero, Reboly, Porosozero, as well as Ladoga lake coast and railroad lines from St.-Petersburg to Petrozavodsk and Kostomuksha. This decision improves investment appeal of the republic as a whole, promotes development of tourism, foreign economic relations, international cooperation, interfarm activity, and corresponds to interests of citizens. At the special session of the Advisory Council on Boundary Issues course of realization of the legislation on frontier regime was considered.
At the meetings held with administration of Boundary service of FSS of Russia support of actual for Karelia issues of inclusion of Wärtsilä and Lyttä railway check points in the Frontier FTP and their reconstruction was received.
Seven operating simplified check points are switched to visa system, that considerably improves opportunities of using them. On applications of 45 Karelian participants of foreign trade activities the sanction of Boundary Department on to realization of 170 foreign trade contracts through simplified check points was received. Work of Kuolismaa simplified check point in Suojarvi region is renewed. Offers of the Government of Karelia to the Federal Customs Service of Russia to close 5 not used simplified check points are prepared.
Thus, in 2007 Government of Karelia successfully solved problems of international and frontier cooperation development in the sphere of Barents cooperation, bilaterial communications with regions of Finland, Sweden and Norway, and also with Hungary. Perspective financial bases of project activity are strengthened. Cooperation with federal ministries is strengthened, proper participation of the republic in federal interdepartmental bodies coordinating international cooperation is provided. Most of offers prepared by the Government of Karelia was supported at the federal level.
In 2008 Government of the Republic of Karelia is facing problems of development of the mentioned spheres of cooperation, including promotion of projects of transit corridors and check points, active participation in actions within the framework of Russian presidency in the Barents Council, conclusion of Cooperation agreement with the Ministry of Economics and Transport of Hungary, memorandums with East Finland and Oulu.
In 2007 cooperation on participation of Finno-Ugric peoples of the republic in international and inter-regional actions developed fruitfully. Within the scope of Cooperation agreement between the Government of the Republic of Karelia and Leningrad region The Vepsian Culture Society Karelian Regional Public Organization and Vepsian national chorus have taken part in traditional Vepsian holiday Elonpu - Tree of Life, Enar'ne ma - Native Land in Leningrad and Vologda regions. Delegation of the Republic of Karelia has been presented properly at the Shumbrat, Finno-Ugria international festival of cultures of Finno-Ugric peoples in the Republic of Mordovia in July of 2007.
In 2007 international and inter-regional cooperation in the sphere of culture developed actively.
International conference Wooden Architecture of Karelia. Joint Project between Italy - Finland - Russia - Ukraine took place in Florence (Italy) in January. During the conference agreement has been reached on cooperation berween Italian and Karelian restorers on restoration of monuments of wooden country architecture of the village of Bolshaya Selga of Olonets region, and on implementation of joint projects within the scope of programs of funds of the European Union.
Within the framework of carrying out of the Year of the Chinese People's Republic Days in the Russian Federation, the Republic of Karelia held Days of Chinese culture which program included concerts of song and dance art ensemble of Yunnan province, Days of Chinese cinema, Chinese Bronze of Ancient Times exhibition, photo-exhibitions Harmonious China - Aspirations and Dreams and Impressions of China.
The important strategic partner in the sphere of culture for the Republic of Karelia there is Finland, its most close neighbour, and the main event of the last year was the Russian-Finnish Art Caravan project. Within the scope of the project at active participation of municipal formations for experts in the sphere of education, public health services, social protection, youth policy, sports and culture 8 seminars have been organized in which about 340 experts have taken part. Within the period of the Art Caravan procession actors have given 31 concerts in Finland and Karelia which were visited by more than 14 thousand spectators.
International festival of puppet theatres of the Barents region was held in the Republic of Karelia in October, 2007 for the first time. It has collected 14 theatrical collectives from Russia, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Estonia. Within the framework of the festival 27 performances have been shown, three performances from Estonia, Iceland and Petrozavodsk were shown live at the IV Theatre Web International Internet festival.
Within the framework of the Barents cooperation program Petrozavodsk hosted the Ursa Major Youth Finno-Ugric Folklore Festival in which creative teams from Karelia, Murmansk region, Republic of Komi, the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, and also 17 Lappish performers from Norway, Finland and Sweden have taken part.
In April, 2007 within the scope of the Neighbourhood Euroregion Karelia program implementation of the Karelian Arts and Crafts Souvenir Network international project has begun. In territory of Byelomorsk, Kem and Olonets regions of the Republic of Karelia local souvenir arts and crafts develop, competitive souvenir production made of local materials is created. Thus, cooperation promotes creation of conditions for steady social and economic development of municipal formations in Karelia.
Kantele ensemble has taken part in the XVII International Festival Eurofolklore-2007 in the city of Banska-Bystritsa (Slovakia). Spectators from Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Mari-El, Chelyabinsk, Magnitogorsk, Murmansk region have got acquainted with creative work of the ensemble.
The level of masterly performance of Karelian creative teams has highly been estimated by spectators outside of the republic. Success were tours of the State Symphonic Orchestra of the Republic of Karelia in Italy, Onego Orchestra of Russian Folk Instruments in the Urals, ExpromtEnsemble of National Instruments in Germany, National Theatre and Puppet Theatre of the Republic of Karelia in Moscow and St.-Petersburg.