Leading the way for Arctic cooperation
MOSCOW: “Norway and Russia are leading the way for the other Arctic nations on cooperation in the far north”, says Anton Vasiliev who is the Russian Ambassador to the Arctic.
Arctic issues has for several years been high on the agenda both for Norway and Russia. As the international interest for the Arctic is growing, Norway’s and Russia’s Arctic strategy is well funded in the two countries High North policies.
This was emphasized when Russia’s Ambassador at Large for Arctic Cooperation; Anton Vasiliev, met with County Governor of Finnmark, Runar Sjåstad in Moscow recently. Vasiliev highlighted in his meeting with the county delegation, the importance of establishing a well functioning management of the region.
The Norwegian county of Finnmark has only 75 000 inhabitants. However, with is central location in the north bordering to Russia, it will be an important area for Norwegian business development in the years to come. Therefore it was important for the county delegation from Finnmark to learn about how Russia is planning for the future in this region.
"The Arctic is a region which cannot not be managed by market demands. All development of the Arctic must happen through cooperation between the Arctic nations," says Vasiliev.
He is therefore very pleased that there has been established an Arctic Council Secretariat in Tromsø to make sure that that the development is managed well.
Vasiliev used the meeting with the County Govorner of Finnmark to highlight the importance of the delimitation line agreement in the Barents Sea. The agreement signed in 2010, ended a 40 year long dispute between Norway and Russia on where to draw the borderline.
"The agreement is of course important for Norway and Russia, but at the same time it shows other Arctic nations how to solve border issues in the Arctic. Just look at how Norway has solved all their continental shelf claims through good dialogue with your neighbours. No hostility and no conflict."
Solving border issues through bilaterally discussions in a peaceful manner like Norway did, is the best solution in Vasiliev’s opinion.
Areas of focus
For Russia there are four key areas of focus for their Arctic strategy. It is the use of Arctic resources, it is to maintain political stability, it is to maintain a sustainable development and it is to make better use of the Northern Sea Route for commercial ship traffic.
Vasilliev see that things are changing very fast now in the Arctic. Not many did foresee the rapid growth in traffic through the Northern Sea Route. As the number of commercial ship transits is closing 100 each season, the need for better security measures has become more and more urgent.
“Russia has invested a lot in strengthening the infrastructure along the NSR, with more ice breakers, better port infrastructure and more satellites to monitor the area. This will make the travel far safer for search and rescue operations” says Vasiliev.
He also emphasizes the importance of securing that the rates of Atomflot’s ice breaker support of each voyage will maintain at a predictable level.
Share same view
County Governor Runar Sjåstad said to Vasiliev that it was reassuring to hear that Russia has a joint understanding on how to develop the High North.
“It is good to hear that we share the same view that development should be managed by politicians and the people living here and not by the market interests for the resources”, said Sjåstad.
He believe that both Finnmark and Russia will gain a lot from the increased interest of the north, but this development must not be rushed.
Sjåstad was in Moscow during the Neftegaz oil and gas conference, where Finnmark County wanted to show the region’s advantageous location for all activities in the High North and the Arctic.