Interreg Baltic Sea Region’s seminar on cooperating with North-West Russian regions very much fitted into the concept of inviting neighbours to work together at a local and regional level. “We want to show that cooperation works if all partners involved are aware of the benefit,” said Susanne Scherrer, Director of Interreg Baltic Sea Region Managing Authority/Secretariat, who run the seminar. “Russian participation can add value to project cooperation,” encouraged Yulia Savkina from the Russian Federal Ministry of Economic Development. She underlined that the EUSBSR and the Russian Strategy for the North-Western Federal District have in fact common development priorities, including environmental protection, transport and logistics, and economic development of the regions.
Cooperation in practice
At the seminar, three Interreg Baltic Sea Region's projects from the first call: DAIMON, Green Cruise Port and IWAMA, presented what the cooperation with the Russian partners looks like in practice, and more importantly, what the advantages are. “The main benefit for us is the possibility to extend scientific knowledge regarding threats on the recovery activities of dumped munitions,” said Valeriy Nabatov, Shirshov Insitute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Kaliningrad, partner in the DAIMON project. DAIMON, a EUSBSR flagship project, supports maritime, defence and environmental administrations in managing dumped chemical and conventional warfare in the Baltic Sea.
Bringing sustainable and eco-friendly cruise ship tourism to Kaliningrad has been driving the economic development of Kaliningrad. Andrey Moshkov, representing the Kaliningrad Authority of the North-West Basin Branch of ROSMORPORT involved in the Green Cruise Port project, admitted that transnational cooperation was one of the elements speeding up the development: “We were interested in new solutions on energy efficient smart technologies to avoid mistakes in the construction of a cruise terminal,” he explained. He also added that one of the secrets of a successful project is to understand the problems of local people.
IWAMA (Interactive Water Management), another EUSBSR flagship project, is about reducing nutrient inflows to the Baltic Sea. Boris Komovnikov and Ekaterina Latysheva, representing the Environmental Centre for Administration and Technology of Kaliningrad participating in the project, admitted the importance of capacity building in the waste water treatment. Only a couple of days ago, on 7 June, a new Kaliningrad wastewater treatment plant was opened. Alla Ivanova, Acting Minister and head of the Agency for International Affairs and Regional Cooperation of the Kaliningrad region, stated that the inauguration is another step to significantly reduce the eutrophication of the Baltic Sea: “We can achieve our regional goals only if we cooperate,” she stressed, adding that she would encourage more municipalities, universities, environmental NGOs to become potential partners in the future.
“We are ready to cooperate,” highlighted Natalia Goleva from the Pskov region, recalling good experiences from the cross border cooperation. Concerning participation in Interreg Baltic Sea Region, she wishes to increase cooperation with some of the western states at the Baltic Sea region as there were already well established links to the Baltic States. Irina Karelina, Leontief Centre, outlined information and support measures to potential Russian organisations interested to become Interreg Baltic Sea Region’s partners.
“We are bridge builders,” summarised Mikko Lohikoski, Horizontal Action Coordinator Neighbours: “we help Russia and EU countries matchmake and find partners. He also underlined that many issues could only be addressed in a constructive dialogue with neighbours, especially with Russia.