Thursday March 30, 2017

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REGIONAL JOURNALISM, GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE.

Politics
Week Ahead

Barents Euro-Arctic Council meets

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Other topics for the week of March 13-19 include
- European Parliament votes on an Arctic policy
- Northern Sparsely Populated Areas
- Greenland constitutional commission
Sea ice annual maximum

In these times of strained relations between the West and Russia, Kremlinology has had something of a renaissance. If practitioners of the discipline are looking for a case study, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, an inter-governmental forum, might prove an interesting subject.

Similar in structure and format to the Arctic Council, the organisation has been insulated from upheavals in political relations resulting from the Russian annexation of Crimea and conflict in eastern Ukraine. As is also the case with the Arctic Council, it is suggested that the BEAC’s attention to economic, environmental and other practical matters, and the mutual benefits this sort of collaboration brings, has been the secret to its continued success.

In the coming week, the Committee of Senior Officials, representatives from each of the member countries (similar in function to the Arctic Council’s senior Arctic officials), will gather in Murmansk, where they will attend to housekeeping issues, and to prepare for the next biennial meeting this autumn.

Though small in scope, such meetings are not insignificant. Foreign ministers from all member states attended the 2015 meeting, in Oulu, Finland, including Sergei Lavrov (pictured above), the Russian foreign minister, who was there to assume chairmanship duties on behalf of his country.

“The Council,” Mr Lavrov said at the time, “has become an effective and relevant regional co-operation mechanism. We have managed to create a zone of confidence and stability in northern Europe.”

If anything can be read into the tweet sent out this week by military leaders from the region (see below), two years on, relations remain comfortably at-ease.

Photo: Russian MFA