International and inter-regional cooperation
Priority tasks of the Government of the Republic of Karelia in the sphere of international relations are involvement of additional resources for improvement of social and economic development of the republic, perfection of the border and customs infrastructure, promotion of transit corridor projects, support of image and investment prospects of the republic. Successful solution of these tasks improves the role and importance of Karelia in frontier cooperation between Russia with Finland and the North of Europe as a whole, will allow to realize advantages of frontier region to the full.
In 2008 realization of 110 international noncommercial projects with over €5 million of total amount of financing was caried on in territory of the republic. Realization of 18 projects with annual volume of €1,25 million of external financing was conducted within the Neighbourliness program of the EU.
Work on the project of the new Karelia regional frontier cooperation program between Russia and the EU through to 2013 proceeded. Priorities of the program are economic cooperation and improvement of the quality of life. Terms of reference of the Neighbourliness regional program and Karelia program coincides with territory of Karelia euroregion formed in 2000.
Complex program of cooperation actions between Russia and Finland in cross-border regions was accepted within the scope of work of the Russian-Finnish intergovernmental working group on cross-border cooperation. Implementation of 23 projects with €1,6 million of financing from the budget of Finland was carried on in Karelia, besides, within the framework of 25 projects implemented by the neighbouring Russian regions, €800 thousand was involved in territory of the republic.
Within the scope of bilateral cooperation between Karelia and the province of Oulu there have been completely executed the planned actions in the field of the transportation, public health services and social development, education and scientific research, culture, tourism, cooperation between veteran organizations, law enforcement bodies and rescue services. The high-speed broadband fiber-optical communication line between the cities of Kuhmo and Kostomuksha hs been laid, that has improved considerably conditions of foreign trade activities and investment prospects of Kostomuksha and adjacent territories.
Government of Karelia has liven up the cooperation with the province of East Finland. The corresponding Memorandum for 2008-2009, providing cooperation development in spheres of social protection, public health services, culture and education was concluded.
Government of Karelia has provided participation in work of the Regional Council and Committee of the Barents Euro-Arctic, including concerning presidency of Russia in the Barents Euro-Arctic Council. The Regional Barents Program and the Cooperation Guidelines between the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Northwest region of Russia program have been prepared and accepted at participation of the Republic of Karelia.
Together with Board of the Swedish province of Västerbotten there continued the long-term project of the Swedich-Karelian information business center directed on development of cooperation in the field of small and medium business.
The new field of Karelia's concern in the international sphere was support of compatriots abroad. Government of the republic has approved the General Guidelines of Working with Compatriots Aroad for the period from 2009 through to 2011 Program, the working group has been formed. The list of program actions for 2009 has been developed and approved.
Joint Karelian-Finnish cooperation Program in the field of prevention and relief of emergency situations, including exchange of technologies, delivery of equipment, joint trainings and manoeuvres on elaboration of cooperaction in cross-border areas and rendering paramedical first aid was carried out.
Territorial bodies of federal authorities actively participated in international cooperation of the republic. In particular, the Plan of joint actions with bodies of police of the Finnish adjacent territories on decrease in the crime rate in cross-border regions and in the republic as a whole was implemented.
The Republic of Karelia took part in sessions of the Coordination Council on Cross-Border Cooperation under the Plenipotentiary of the President of Russia in the Northwest Federal District, Council of head of subjects of the Russian Federation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, in the annual conference in the line of Administration of the President of Russia Cross-Border Cooperation between the Russian Federation, the EU and Norway.
Government of the Republic of Karelia continues working on promotion of the most significant projects of development of check points on the border at the federal level, including within the scope of Northern Dimension partnership: construction of Syväoro international automobile check point and reconstruction of two railway check points, as well as development of local railway and roads.
In the line of Petrozavodsk branch of Oktyabrskaya Railway in 2008 the significant amount of works has been performed on territorial differentiation of stations both railway check points of Wärtsilä and Lyttä, provision of the necessary facilities and equipment of railway check points and stations, reconstruction of local railway.
Work of operating simplified check-points is provided. 80 Karelian participants of foreign trade activities realized 144 contracts through simplified check-points in 2008.
Measures of customs and tariff policy carried out by the federal center were of great value for foreign trade of the Republic of Karelia.
As a result of consultations lead by the Government of the Russian Federations it became possible to come to understanding with the Federal customs service of the Russian Federation on preparation of changes in the regulatory system for making additions to the list of places for declaring forest products that will allow enterprises of the republic to lower expenses at export of products of wood processing.
Due to proceeding increase of raw wood export duties Government of the republic repeatedly introduced the issue of realization of deciduous wood for debating on the level of federal authorities and districts of the Northwest. As a result, in the end of 2008 Government of the Russian Federation has made a decision to postpone introduction of prohibitive timber duties.
Much attention was paid to rendering assistance to enterprises of Karelia in expansion of their product markets, search of potential trading partners and investors. Tenders were placed on the Export Opportunities of Russia Russian site, trade missions of the Russian Federation abroad were kept acquainted with it operatively.
The important tool of promoting production of Karelian enterprises on foreign markets was participation in exhibitions and fairs. The Republic of Karelia at the support of the Government of the republic in 2008 has taken part in 52 exhibitions, including 6 foreign, 21 inter-regional, and 25 regional ones.
The most significant actions of economic and investment subjects in which enterprises and organizations took part at the support of the Government of Karelia were the First All-Russia review of investment projects (Moscow), Days of Small and Medium Business of Russia - 2008 (Moscow), the IVth Trade and Investment Fair of the countries of Northeast Asia (Changchun, People's Republic of China), the 14th international exhibition congress High Technologies. Innovations. Investments (St.-Petersburg), exhibition within the scope of the International Forum on Nanotechnologies (Moscow). More than 140 enterprises of the republic have taken part in exhibitions, there have been achieved about 35 preliminary arrangements on supply of goods and services, there have been held about 210 meetings with potential partners and investors.
Government of the republic has organized participation of Karelian enterprises of the national arts and crafts in the most prestigious Russian exhibitions of The Firebird and The Shallop (Moscow).
In 2008 Karelia participated in 10и tourist exhibitions on which results there has been signed more than 300 agreements on rendering tourist services to the amount of more than 10 million roubles, there has been held about 1300 meetings with potential partners and investors.
Inter-regional relations of the Republic of Karelia cover 20 regions of the Russian Federation, Byelorussia, Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Odessa area of Ukraine, there operate 23 agreements. For activization of inter-regional cooperation and search of mutually advantageous joint projects in 2008 there have been prepared new draft agreements and protocols to agreements on cooperation of the Government of the Republic of Karelia with the Governments of Byelorussia, and Vologda and Murmansk areas.
Within the agreements in force Onego Tractor Plant, Ltd., delivered logging tractors to Arkhangelsk area and the Republic of Komi. Petrozavodskmash Joint-Stock Company has concluded agreements on delivery of spare parts to pulp-and-paper enterprises of various regions of the North-West to the sum of more than 35 million roubles.
On May 16, 2008 the newprint producing factory has been started-up in Shklov (Byelarus), equipment for it is made by Petrozavodskmash Joint-Stock Company. Large oil refining equipment delivery orders for Belarus oil refining enterprises are being performed. The volume of equipment export from the Republic of Karelia to Byelorussia in 2008 has made $22,5 million.
In territory of the republic companies from Moscow and St.-Petersburg carried out investment projects with significant volumes of investments.
In 2008 there actively developed international and inter-regional cooperation in the sphere of culture.
The example of successful international cooperation was Ballet Festival in Savonlinna (Finland) in August 2008 at participation of 120 Karelian actors. Two new ballet new productions were presented at the festival: The Rock of Two Swans ethno-folk ballet of Kantele ensemble to the music of Karelian composer A.Beloborodov and P.Tchaikovsky's ballet The Swan Lake in Kirill Simonov's choreography and performed by the ballet troupe of Music Theatre, as well as a concert of the main orchestra of the festival - symphonic orchestra of the Karelian State Philarmonic Dociety by Marius Stravinsky.
One of the largest joint actions of the Republic of Karelia and the province of Oulu was exhibition of modern art of Finnish artists from North Carelia Towel - 2008. The IX Russian-Finnish cultural forum took place in Jyväskylä (Finland), its main subject was Future Today and Now: Culture, Youth, Education. At the forum representatives of Karelian delegation have discussed with their Finnish partners 32 projects in the field of museum exhibition and tour-concert activity, fine art, theatre and dancing, cultural tourism and craft industries, work with youth.
Within the scope of inter-regional cooperation with the Government of Moscow and the Government of St.-Petersburg in 2008 there passed with great success the IVth International Art Festival Midnight Sun of Karelia at participatiom of the State academic chapel from St.-Petersburg, Soloists of Moscow chamber orchestra conducted by Yu.Bashmet, famous opera vocalists from Moscow M.Kasrashvili, V.Chernomortsev and soloists of the St.-Petersburg Mariinsky theatre who have presented a concert performance of Puccini's opera Toska. Of great success were concerts of the symphonic orchestra and conductor from Lithuania, National Actor of the USSR S.Sondetskis, Christina Branko, Dora Schwarzberg (violin, Austria), as well as some other world-famous musicians.