Foreign Ministers representing the eight Arctic states will fly to Nuuk on Greenland on May 12th to form the future of Arctic politics and cooperation. All four Barents Region foreign ministers will be there.
The Arctic is undergoing significant changes. Global warming results in less sea ice; less sea ice results in increase shipping; increases shipping results in increased environmental risks. Increased environmental risks results in need for better search and rescue services; and effective search and rescue services is only possible with increased cooperation between the Arctic nations.
When the Arctic Council was established back in 1996 the member states mainly produced environmental status reports from science cooperation, like the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme. Today’s challenges needs quite another political attention.
Therefore, the foreign ministers will meet well prepared when they are going to form the future of Arctic cooperation in Greenland’s capital Nuuk this spring.
The member states of the Arctic council are Russia, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Canada and USA. One of the issues to be decided is who to invite as observers to the council, as Arctic issues are becoming a “hot-potato” also in global politics. India, South-Korea, China and the EU are all showing great interest in the Arctic and want to have a say in future decisions.
Speaking at a conference in China last year, Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said: “It is Norway’s view that the Arctic Council will benefit from having officially sanctioned observers”… and .. “Norway supports the application from China and hopes that consensus will be reached among the Arctic Council members. We also hope that China will continue to take active part in the work of the Council in its present status as an ad-hoc observer.”
Different countries have conflicts of interests. Not like it was in the Arctic during the Cold War when the flight over the ice-cap was the shortest route for intercontinental missiles and the ice-cap was the best place to play cat-and-mouse for nuclear powered submarines. Today’s conflicts of interests are more on issues like petroleum drilling vs. environmental protection, specified shipping rules vs. freedom of oceans, etc.
Norway and Russia have proved for the other Arctic nations that disputed ocean border areas can be solved in accordance with international laws and practice and in highly friendly manners. Lack of Arctic borders does not lead to Arctic conflicts.
Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Northern Fleet’s “Admiral Kuznetsov”, has finished repairs and is ready to leave the port of Murmansk. According to a Russian news agency, the vessel will sail to Syria.
A century and a half ago, Norway was home to roughly three thousand brown bears, the majority of bears in all of Scandinavia. By 1930, the bears were virtually extinct. Decades of aggressive management tactics and bounties had wiped out one of the area’s most iconic species.
Microplastics, the tiny plastic particles that are accumulating in marine waters and big lakes around the world, are now showing up in the Arctic waters south and southwest of Svalbard, Norway, a new study says.
REYKJAVIK: The climatic changes taking place in the Arctic are a call to action for the world. We must answer with more international cooperation and more research, says Tore Hattrem, State Secretary of Norway’s Foreign Ministry.
“Partnership should and shall shape the development of the Arctic, therefore cooperation is the starting point for our Arctic policy,” Vladimir Barbin, Senior Arctic Official and representative to the Arctic Council, said at the Arctic Circle 2015 assembly.
August 9th, the Barents Region celebrated the UN International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The day was commemorated in several parts of the region, including Karasjok in Northern Norway and Teriberka in Northwestern Russia.
Norway’s Foreign Minister Børge Brende has asked Russia for an explanation to the high number of asylum seekers coming to Norway via Russia. Syrian refugees that have lived in Russia for a long time, will be stopped on the border and sent back.