Barents Euro-Arctic Region (BEAR)
Secretariat: Kirkenes, Norway

Contact: Alf Nystad <>
Date: October 1998

The Euro-Arctic Barents Region comprises the Northern parts of Norway, Sweden and Finland, as well as the Karelian Republic and the Murmansk and Arkhangelsk Oblasts including the Nenets Autonomous Okrug and Novaya Zemlya. The Kirkenes Declaration of 1993, establishing the "Euro-Arctic Barents Co-operation" signed by Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Iceland, Denmark, the European Commission and the Saami Council, endorses amongst others the issue of taking measures to improve the situation of the indigenous population of the Barents Region. Indigenous interests are to be taken into account in all matters of co-operation.

Both the Saami and the Nenets have their representatives at the Regional Council. The Regional Committee for the Indigenous Peoples consists of 8 representatives, while indigenous representatives join 10 of the remaining 12 committees of the Regional Council.

Norway, having the Chair at the Council in 1998, is strengthening the issues of health and environment. A preparatory analysis of needs for health service for indigenous peoples of North-western Russia has already been done. Subsequent co-operation will be canalised through the twin-town relationship of the Saami settlements Karasjok and Lujavrri (Lovozero; Murmansk Oblast, Russia). Objectives include health care at schools, organisation and multidisciplinary co-operation, drug abuse prevention, development of information material, hospital equipment, improvement of drinking water, etc. Other projects comprise exchange visits of young artists, and the traditional National Saami Games. If this co-operation will be successful, similar projects may be carried out by other twin towns like Guovdageaidnu - Naryan Mar, or Tana - Terskiy.

In addition, there is a variety of other ongoing projects, mainly in the sectors of arts and crafts, education, language and women's issues. A project on establishment of cultural centres in Lujavrri (Saami) and Naryan Mar (Nenets) has been running for several years.

The Committee is investigating possibilities of co-operation in reindeer husbandry, both on meat production, processing and sale. There is a severe lack of recognising reindeer meat as a valuable food resource on the Russian market. An improved subsistence-based economy is considered to be a requirement to enable indigenous peoples to carry on their own development.

Besides activities directly aimed at indigenous people, the Environmental Management Programme (EMP) for the Murmansk Region has important implications for the indigenous population of the region. The programme issues a bulletin (EMP Bulletin) which can be ordered from the Svanhovd Environmental Centre.

Medical equipment for Lujávvri (Lovozero)
February 1999

Source: Ságát (Áviisa Sámiide; Saami Newspaper), No. 18, 13 February 1999

As part of the Barents Euro-Arctic Region cooperation, a twin town partnership project between the Saami communities of Kárášjohka (Karasjok; Finnmark, Norway) and Lujávvri (Lovozero; Murmanskaya Oblast, Russia) has now achieved results. Medical supplies purchased with funds from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have now been received at the hospital in Lujávvri. The equipment consists of three fully equipped ambulance vehicles with spare parts, ultrasonic equipment and other diagnostic aids, medicines, and computers. Except for the ultrasonic diagnosis gear, all equipment was purchased in Russia. The specialists involved said experiences gained from buying equipment in Russia were good, problems with customs authorities were avoided, and only a small portion of the project's funds was used for administration and travel.

Another project aimed at improving the quality of the drinking water of the Lujávvri community, for which 3.2 million Norw. kroner (c. US$ 420 000) have been granted by the Norwegian and Finnish governments, is still in preparation and will, it is hoped, be carried out within the next six months.


Update 29-11-2001