AEBR deepens cooperation with the Russian Federation:All-Russia Forum, meeting of the Regional Studies Association and meeting of the AEBR Task Force External Borders in St. Petersburg/Russia, 24-25 October 2016
AEBR was well presented in the All-Russian Forum which took place in St. Petersburg, Russia, on 24 and 25 October 2016. The forum was organised by Russian Ministry of Economic Development, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and "Leontief Center".
The international round table debate in this forum tackled development of cross-border cooperation with European countries. Experts discussed issues of business cooperation, promoting cross-border economy and the labour market, as well as promotion of border crossing tourism in the areas of culture, sports and healthy lifestyle.
The event was moderated by Ms. Karelina, Director General of "Leontief Centre", and Ms. Sadovnikova, expert on international aspects on regional development. It brought together experts from Europe, including Martín Guillermo Ramírez, Secretary General of the Association of European Border Regions, Johannes Moisio, Chairman of the AEBR Task Force External Borders, as well as representatives of Italy, Greece and the UK.
The AEBR Task Force External Borders (TFEB), chaired by Johannes Moisio, also held its meeting during the forum. Thematic presentations were given by Florian SCHMID, President of GFGZ (Switzerland), Mátyás JASCHITZ, Central European Service for Cross-Border Initiatives - CESCI (Hungary), Eva LUNDIN, EU expert in Hedmark County Council (Norway); Alexei KIRYUKHIN, Director of University Karazin center of francophonia and Mikhail Pogodaev, Executive Director of Northern Forum. The meeting of the TFEB was concluded by a dialogue with Mr. Rafael Abramyan, Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, and Mr. Igor Kapyrin, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The agreed common aims are to continue joined meetings between the Russian Federation and the AEBR, to hold together events such as the CBC Forum in Pskov in May 2016, and to explore funding possibilities in order to work on best practices and information exchange in the field of cross-border cooperation.
The AEBR was also invited to make a presentation on "CBC to Boost Strategic Development Approaches in Border Regions" during the Conference of the Regional Studies Association, run in parallel to the All Russian Forum.
The AEBR Secretary General explained that cooperation across national boundaries is a matter of international relations, trade, etc., for nation states. However, for public authorities below the national level in border regions, it can be their natural behaviour, the easiest way to unite synergies in similar territories with common aims. Decentralized cross-border cooperation generates trust among neighbouring regions, while increases common knowledge and promotes joint action in fields like spatial planning, management of natural resources, waste management, emergency prevention, cross-border healthcare, labour market, business, etc.
There is an evident added-value of CBC regarding European integration, but there is also a political, an institutional, an economic and a socio-cultural added-value. These can be realized if cross-border cooperation exploits its full potential. To this end, the right framework conditions have to be present:
- peaceful living together at borders
- borders as meeting points and not as areas of separation
- a socio-cultural environment, which creates trust (comprehension and understanding of the neighbour, its language, culture and traditions).
The full added value of cross-border cooperation in Europe has only become visible in an environment created during more than half a century of peace, European integration and open borders, after centuries of conflicts.
A strong partnership and further networking of border regions at various levels is crucial. And then, a strategic approach is vital. In the last decades, cross border development strategies have become increasingly popular mechanisms driving the economic and social development of many European cross border regions. Such a strategic framework provides a more integrated “vision”, with prospects for the future, and defines the objectives and development priorities for the whole region. This type of framework allows for planned and integrated action, instead of ad-hoc and uncoordinated intervention. In general, cross-border strategies constitute a natural development beyond dealing with day-to-day problems and provide a very useful framework to develop cross-border policies and joint funding programmes, multi-annual and with several financial sources.