The Barents Cooperation: Region-Building and New Security Challenges

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  • July 2013
    Arctic: The New Front

    The Barents Euro–Arctic Region (BEAR), which in terms of land territory is one of the biggest international region-building projects in Europe, was established in 1993 to meet the new security challenges following the breakup of the Soviet Union and the opening up of the borders between East and West. Stretching over major parts of Northwest Russia and three Nordic countries, the region bridges areas, which for decades were heavily influenced by high Cold War tensions and deep social, economic and political cleavages. With the formal establishment of the Barents Cooperation, the involved countries signaled an important shift from hard security priorities to an alternative and diversified security approach, which included emphasis on regional political cooperation, cross-border human contacts and the formation of common regional identities.