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Karelia's experience of cross-border cooperation is important for Russia

A.Perepleslnin, A.Molchanov and A.Nelidov

A.Perepleslnin, A.Molchanov and A.Nelidov

The tide of life should not abolish, but, on the contrary, strengthen neighbourliness and mutually advantageous partnership between the border territories this is the opinion of all participants of the exit session of the Federation Council Committee for the Commonwealth of Independent States held on June, 3 in Petrozavodsk.

The subject to discuss at the exit session was experience of cross-border cooperation within the framework of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) and prospects of its distribution to the CIS.

Members of the Federation Council in Petrozavodsk

Members of the Federation Council in Petrozavodsk

Andrei Molchanov, Chairman of the Federation Council Committee for the CIS, Andrei Nelidov, Head of the Republic of Karelia, Alexander Pereplesnin, Chairman of the Legislative Assembly of Karelia, members of the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, the Federation Council and the State Duma, including Valentina Pivnenko, Karelia's deputy to the State Duma, officers of the national Ministry for Foreign Affairs and other federal ministries and departments, experts from the border regions of Russia have taken part in the session.

Welcoming the session participants Andrei Nelidov has pointed out the importance of cross-border cooperation for Karelia which has about thousand kilometers of the border common with Finland. The republic has gained considerable experience of close cooperation and partnership with the neighbouring country. Head of Karelia has emphasized, that recently Karelia received Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland Mr.Stubb, and it indicates that Finland also considers Karelia a territory very important to support cross-border cooperation with.

It is no coincidence, that we have this exit session in Karelia, Andrei Molchanov, Chairman of the Federation Council Committee for the CIS, says. Karelia is the recognized advanced post of cross-border cooperation in the Northwest. For many years it has been developing the innovative model of cooperation based on norms and rules tested through European practice. Your experience is of great interest for us.

Dmitri Kislov presents Karelia's experience in cross-border cooperation

Dmitri Kislov presents Karelia's experience in cross-border cooperation

Various spheres of Karelian-Finnish cooperation were presented by Dmitry Kislov, Deputy Minister of Economic Development of the republic. He has mentioned that partnership between Karelia and Finland was established many years ago. This cooperation has made and keeps making it possible to solve common environmental problems, to develop transport infrastructure and mutually advantageous economic relations.

Deputy Minister of Economic Development of the republic has also told about Karelia program of cross-border cooperation not so long ago ratified by the President of Russia and already begun. The main purpose of the program is raising the well-being of the people in territory of the region through cross-border cooperation. The program assumes implementation of projects interesting both for Russian border territories, and for our neighbours on the other side of the border.

Exit session of the Federation Council Committee for the CIS

Exit session of the Federation Council Committee for the CIS

Financial investments of Russia in Karelia program make €11,6 million. The Finnish party allocates the same amount of money, and the European Union's share makes €23,2 million.

As Dmitry Kislov has explained, the program's innovation is its so-called issue-related character.

Thus, we have decided that it makes no sence to spread thin over all possible priorities, the Deputy Minister said, but it is necessary to define in common one or another vital issue and to concentrate on its solution.

Having pointed out Karelia's positive experience in cross-border cooperation, participants of the exit session have discussed the opportunity of using it in the regions of Russia sharing borders with the CIS countries, and over the space of the Commonwealth as a whole.

One of the most actual issues in the discussion that followed was the necessity of as prompt as possible adoption of the Federal law concerning cross-border cooperation. This law should help in solution of many matters of cross-border activities of regions and, what is of no least importance, to make it easier for ordinary citizens of Russia to travel to the CIS.

In Europe there is neither such common history, nor strong ties of relationship as Russia's citizens have with citizens of the CIS. However, people in the European Union do not have to receive any documents to visit their relatives in another country. This situation has to be improved.

Senators Vadim Gustov, Oleg Panteleyev, Vadim Moshkovich mentioned it in their speeches.

As Andrei Molchanov has explained, the Federal law on cross-border cooperation should be adopted in the final reading by the end of the year.

Participants of the exit session have also touched upon popularization of studying Russian language in the countries of the former Soviet Union. It is very important, indeed, as language is the major tool of approximation of people, and in many respects it promotes development of integration processes.

Head of Karelia Andrei Nelidov also spoke of importance of studying languages of the neighbouring regions. For the citizens of Finland, especially those who live in the north of the country, it is important to know Russian because there are always points of contact with Russia. For the citizens of Karelia it is also important to speak Finnish.

However, Finnish language is not entered into the register of foreign languages of the Russian Federation, Andrey Nelidov said. It is clear, that Finnish language is not actual for the whole Russia, but Karelia has its own features. We have sent a letter, and we also count on support of the Federation Council Committee for the Commonwealth of Independent States concerning including Finnish language in the general education program as a foreign language in Karelia, then children will choose to learn it at school.

Exit session of the Federation Council Committee for the CIS

Exit session of the Federation Council Committee for the CIS

Besides discussing cooperation between the regions and the countries of Europe, participants of the exit session have pointed out that it is necessary to make constant efforts to bring the living standards of Russians closer to the living standards of Europeans.

We all wish to live at the level of Europe. And, first of all, we should develop the regional standard of living to make our reality at least not so strikingly different from European, senator Ralif Safin has emphasized.

Karelia which, as a matter of fact, is a gate from Russia to Europe, in this sense can set an example to other regions.

It is important, that the exit session of the Federation Council Committee for the CIS took place in Karelia. Gradually Karelia becomes a venue for all important events in the sphere of cross-border cooperation. We want to make Karelia a pearl of the Northwest to attract more people here tourists, and businessmen who implement their projects here, and public figures. However, the main thing is to make sure that citizens of Karelia feel comfortable where they live, Head of Karelia Andrei Nelidov has told concluding the session.

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Created: June 3, 2011. Last updated: June 6, 2011.
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