An agreement to open a new Nordic Council of Ministers' Office in Kaliningrad was signed in Moscow on 22 December by the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Russian Federation. The Nordic Council of Ministers has had offices in the Baltic capitals since 1991 and in St. Petersburg since 1995. Co-operation with North-West Russia will now be taken a step further by greater involvement in Kaliningrad.
In collaboration with local bodies, the office will coordinate and implement the Council of Ministers' Russia Programme in Kaliningrad - in particular in relation to the Nordic Council of Ministers' new guidelines and programme for co-operation with North-West Russia. The Nordic Council of Ministers' exchange and networking programme for civil servants, researchers, artists, politicians and business will be open to citizens of Kaliningrad.
Co-operation projects will be launched involving local parties in Kaliningrad and partners in the Nordic Region. The Council of Ministers also envisages closer political co-operation with the local administration in Kaliningrad. The Nordic Council of Ministers has made co-operation with North-West Russia and the Baltic countries one of its top priorities, a move reflected in the fact that it earmarks approximately 20% of the total annual budget for work in the area.
The latest initiatives involve co-operation with Belarus as well, e.g. the cross-border regional project Baltic Euro-Regional Network, which also includes border areas in Belarus, and a new project to fund the Belarusian University, European Humanities University (EHU), which was closed by the authorities in Minsk in July 2004 and has now moved to Vilnius in Lithuania.