In practice, the ministers’ decision means that the administration of a number of projects already in progress are being moved from the Nordic Council of Ministers’ offices in St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad to new administrative bodies, and that there will be more Nordic projects focusing on Russia and the Baltic countries.
The ministers for Nordic co-operation also seek to continue funding co-operation programmes for higher education and research, which were already run independently of the offices in Russia.
The ministers’ prioritisation of co-operation with Russia is fully in line with previous policies.
“It’s important for the Nordic governments that our co-operation with Russia continues in some form, and the Nordic Council of Ministers’ co-operation projects are a key part of this effort,” explains Secretary General Dagfinn Høybråten.
Operations at the Nordic Council of Ministers’ offices in St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad were disbanded in early 2015 after the Russian Ministry of Justice announced that the Nordic Council of Ministers was to be considered as a foreign agent in Russia. The Nordic governments agreed that this status was unacceptable and consequently decided to suspend operations at its offices indefinitely.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the ministers for Nordic co-operation also decided to maintain contact with the Russian authorities at a high political level to clarify whether there have been any changes in the Russian perception of the status of the Nordic Council of Ministers.
The Nordic Council of Ministers’ office in Kaliningrad has been adjudged a fine for not having voluntarily registered as a foreign agent. The Nordic governments have not accepted the foreign agent status, and consequently the ministers for Nordic co-operation decided that the fine should not be accepted either.