Barents Euro-Arctic Region as the international regional organization uniting administrative regions of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia located around the polar circle was founded in January, 1993. Now at the regional level it includes 13 subjects. Russia is presented there by republics of Karelia and Komi, Murmansk and Arkhangelsk areas and Nenets district.
Within the agreement on cooperation in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region, known as Kirkenes Declaration, issues on its coordination are annually discussed by Ministers for Foreign Affairs of its constitutor countries at the created with this purpose Council of the Barents Euro-Arctic Region (Barents Council). Special paragraph of the Declaration devoted to indigenous people confirms adherence of the countries to support the rights of indigenous people, supports offers of representatives of indigenous people participating in discussion of the program of Barents cooperation, preparation of the program on restoration and protection of cultural heritage of indigenous people, creation of ethnocultural centers, special medical fund.
Participants of the Ist Congress of Indigenous Peoples of the Barents Region
The main subject for discussion at the Ist Congress of Indigenous Peoples of the Barents Region held in Norway was the issue of participation of representatives of every indigenous people in all structures the Barents cooperation including Barents and Regional Councils. It will allow Sami, Nenets and Vepsian peoples to speak on their own behalf and assert their rights independently before representatives of authorities of the four countries.
When September, 2007 the United Nations adopted the Declaration of Indigenous Peoples' Rights the legal situation in the world concerning indigenous peoples has changed. Its implementation demands the most close attention to existence problems of indigenous people, performance of obligations of the states on maintenance of their development according to their own priorities, establishments of partner relations between indigenous people and the states.
On results of the Congress there have been adopted recommendations which upon completion and coordination in organizations representing indigenous people of the region will be sent to the government of Sweden as the country presiding this year in the Barents Council. Congresses of indigenous people of the Barents Region will be held biennially.
For the second day after the forum there has been held the international conference Coexistence in the Arctic Regions on the subject causing the greatest concern of indigenous people, which is mutual relations between indigenous people and industrial companies operating in territories of their primordial residing, including extracting various natural resources.
Carrying out of the the Ist Congress of Indigenous Peoples of the Barents Region and the Coexistence in the Arctic Regions conference has allowed to set new tasks to the indigenous peoples of of the region in expansion of their participation and role in the Euro-Arctic cooperation.
Chairlady of the Board of the The Veppsian Culture Society Karelian Regional Public Organization