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August 13, 2012 / landscapeiskingston

Cross-Border Good Practice: Saimaa Canal, Savon­linna Region, Finland – Russia

The lease of canal area and joint man­agement has enabled the smooth operation of the only inland water­way between EU and Russia. This waterway is the Saimaa Canal that has been leased for water traffic from Russia by the state of Finland since 1963.

“The Saimaa region in Finland does not have any other access to the sea. Without any contract we have no route to the sea and for the forestry and mining indus­try they would have to transport goods by lorries or railways to the coast which is lengthy due to the vast distances.”

The Saimaa Canal and surround­ing land was rented from the Soviet Union for 50 years in 1963. The rental agreement included the obligation for Finland to build up the canal and its locks, as well as maintaining operations and the upkeep of the entire structure. The governance of the rental area and the control of the traffic and mainte­nance was organised by joint reg­ular meetings of the administrative committee involving high-level civil servants from both countries.  The rental agreement was ex­tended for a new 50-year period in 2010. The rent paid to the Rus­sian government is dependent on traffic volume. In 2011, it was esti­mated at 1.4 million euros (based on a traffic volume of 1.5 million tons).

“Only three other examples of land leas­ing from another coun­try exist worldwide: Guantanamo, the Panama Canal and Macau…. But the key to this proj­ect’s good practice lies with its strategic location. This stretch of water is effectively the only inland water route from the EU to Rus­sia and during the Waterways Forward project transfer visits interesting discussions were developed regarding possible third-party in­land navigation routes with Rus­sia.”     Source: Harri Lallukka, Senior Expert Savon­linna Region Federation of Municipalities

The Waterways Forward project organised a series of knowledge transfer visits to reveal local expertise.  The following images were taken during the final  Transfer Visit which took place in Lappeenranta-Vyborg, July 2011 arranged by the WF Finish partners – Savonlinna Region Federation of Municipalities.   Partners looked at Finnish – Russian cross border governance and other matters relating to management of the Saimaa Canal.

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