Cross Border Cooperation must continue

Cross Border Cooperation must continue

The decision of the European Council on the 16th of July not to include cross border co-operation on the list of further sanctions against the Russian Federation was correct and a relief to all the regions of South-East Finland. I guess our partners in St. Petersburg and in the Leningrad Oblast share the same opinion.

It would be a mistake to break the co-operation which is mutually beneficial for the people and enterprises of the both countries. To resume this partnership after such a failure would take time and may even be impossible. As well as the ongoing projects and the ones in future pipeline for the programming period of 2014-2020, are not only important but also essential to facilitate business and people to people contacts of the border region. For example there is still lot work to be done to improve the infrastructure in and around the several border crossing points.

Our public authorities, universities, NGOs and private companies are satisfied with the possibilities the ENPI Programme 2007-2013 has provided for them to look after projects of common interest with their Russian counterparts. These relations, experience and knowhow shall be put into use when planning the new CBC period. According to preliminary information the financial frame could even be slightly higher for the coming seven years. That is good news.

Let us hope that a peaceful settlement is found in Ukraine and preferably sooner than later. The conflict can be settled only by peaceful means. That is why the diplomatic efforts should be intensified instead of further sanctions which would harm only those who have not caused the conflict. It is our common responsibility now to complete the ongoing projects well and in time and prepare the new programming document so that we can make the new South-East Finland – Russia CBC Programme 2014-2020 even more successful as the current one.

Matti Viialainen
Regional Mayor, South Karelia

Editorial article from the Programme’s 8th Newsletter issued in July 2014