Knock, knock, knockin’ on Arctic’s door
EU foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton travels the Barents Region this week to discuss EU’s application for permanent observer status in the Arctic Council.
Catherine Ashton first travels to Rovaniemi, then Kiruna and finally Svalbard.
Catherine Ashton's visit and high level talks in the Barents Region will feed in to preparation of an Arctic follow-up document to be adopted this spring, reads a press-release from the European Commission. EU’s first Arctic Policy strategy was issued in 2008.
She will meet with the three Foreign Ministers; Finland’s Erkki Tuomioja, Sweden’s Carl Bildt and Norway’s Jonas Gahr Støre.
“The EU already makes a valuable financial and political contribution to Arctic cooperation through research and working with our neighbours on transport, energy, maritime safety and environmental issues. In developing our EU policy towards the Arctic, we want to listen to and learn from those who know the region best. I am convinced the EU can play an even more positive role in the future. We want to do all we can to contribute to productive cooperation in the region," says Catherine Ashton before departing to the Barents Region.
Ashton will address a seminar at the Arctic Centre in Rovaniemi on Tuesday and meet with representatives of the Sami Parliaments from Finland, Sweden and Norway, reads a press-release from the Finnish Foreign Ministry. A decision to open an EU Arctic information centre at the Arctic Centre in Rovaniemi is believed to be announced soon.
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From Rovaniemi, she travels with Carl Bildt to northern Sweden for an overnight stay at the ice hotel in Jukkasjärvi, a press-release from the Swedish Foreign Ministry says. Sweden is currently the chair of the Arctic Council.
The statement from the European Commission released on Monday says developments in the Arctic are of even more strategic, economic and environmental interest for the European Union now than when the first Communication on the region was issued in 2008.
In Kiruna, Carl Bildt will discuss the development of natural resources in the region with the European Union’s Foreign Policy Chief. Bildt and Ashton will drive deep down in to in the largest iron-ore mine in Europe, LKAB.
“This is a great opportunity to show Catherine Ashton the dynamic north and discuss the challenges facing the Arctic,” says Carl Bildt. Last October, the Swedish Foreign Minister invited his Barents colleagues from Russia, Norway and Finland to the same 500 metre deep mine for the Barents Council meeting.
After Kiruna, Ashton flies to Svalbard where she on Thursday will visit the world’s northernmost University Centre together with Norway’s Jonas Gahr Støre. This winter, climate changes have been most visible on Svalbard with weeks of rain and warm weather in what normally use to be no an ice-cold February.