On February 4th 2015, indigenous politicians and parliamentarians from Russia, Norway, Sweden and Finland gathered in Tromsø for the "3rd Barents Indigenous Peoples' Congress 2015" to discuss and share views and experiences regarding the role and influence of indigenous peoples in the Barents Euro-Arctic Council. The conference, titled "Barents Indigenous 2050 - impacts of our footprints" and organized by the Norwegian Barents Secretariat in close cooperation with the Centre for Sámi studies at the Arctic University of Norway, focused on the future for indigenous languages and the co-existence between extractive industries and indigenous peoples in the Barents Region. The meeting was held in coordination with the annual Sámi week.
State Secretary Morten Høglund with the Norwegian Foreign Ministry said in his speech at the congress that "this Third Barents Indigenous Peoples Congress is a tangible manifestation of this successful cooperation, which the Norwegian government wholeheartedly supports. We are therefore very pleased that the four countries of the Barents Region have now agreed to provide regular financing for the Working Group of Indigenous Peoples". The Norwegian State Secretary, however, used the occation also to epressed his concerns about marginalization of human rights activists and indigenous peoples' representatives by Russian authorities. Mr. Høglund in fact recalled the incident occured last year with Valentina Sovkina, when she was harrazed on her way from Kola Peninsula to the UN World Conferance on Indigenous peoples in New York (read the full story at BarentsObserver) by Russian law enforcement officers.
Russia (that will chair the Barents Euro-Arctic Council from next fall (2015) to 2017) represented by Aleksandr Zelenov said in response to the Norwegian State Secretary that they "are interested in dialogue, not confrontation", and indigenous peoples isssue is a natural priority for Russia. In fact, when taking over the chair of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, Russia will organize a regional indigenous peoples summit (but no location was announced during the conference).