Discussed Arctic cooperation without mentioning Russia

Erna Solberg Alexander stubb and Kristian Persson
First outside the conferance room, the ministers answered questions about the relations to Russia. From left Kristina Persson, Alexander Stubb and Erna Solberg.

TROMSØ: Erna Solberg, Alexander Stubb and Kristina Persson outlined strategies for growth and cooperation in the north. No attention was given to the man sitting directly in front of the on the first row; Putin’s former special envoy for the Arctic Artur Chilingarov.


The armchair discussion with the two Prime Ministers of Norway and Finland, together with Sweden’s Minister for Strategic Development, followed the presentation of the report from a joint Scandinavian expert group on how to remove obstacles in cross-border cooperation in the north.

Artur Chilingarov talking with Moscow’s Ambassador to Norway Vyacheslav Pavlovskiy.

Artur Chilingarov was paying special attention to when the three ministers mentioned cross-border infrastructure and shipping in the north and continued with exchanging views on how the three countries could benefit from talking with one voice in different international forums.

Chilingarov is best known for planting the Russian flag on the seabed under the North Pole from a mini-submarine in 2007. Until late last autumn, he was a member of the Federation Council and served as President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for international cooperation on Arctic issues.

Today, Artur Chilingarov is a board member of Rosneft, a company EU and the U.S. have placed on the sanction list.

The sanctions stop, among other things, Norway’s Statoil from continuing on joint drilling plans with Rosneft in the far north of the Barents Sea.

“Even cooler than you think”
“It is very easy to hang out with Norwegians and Swedes,” the Finnish Prime Minister said and suggested to give a new brand to the high north: “The Arctic - even cooler than you think.” 

Alexander Stubb is known for his funny quotes. 

Stubb, Persson and Solberg discussed cross-border cooperation at Arctic Frontiers.

The word “Russia” was not mentioned one single time during the nearly 45 minutes long armchair discussion taking place at Arctic Frontiers. The conference takes place in Tromsø, northern Norway, and gathers 1400 participants from the circumpolar north. This year, a record low number of Russians participate.

Artur Chilingarov himself did not seem too disappointed for Russia not being mentioned during the discussion. “Listening to the recommendations the ministers received, I had the impression they were collected from the Russian Arctic doctrine. Russia supports practically all that was said,” he said when entering the stage for his speech right after the ministers. “I hope that when the time comes for making decisions, you will consider Russia’s opinion and possibilities.”

In the corridor after the discussion, Erna Solberg told reporters that Norway has a good cooperation with Russia on some bilateral agreements, like fisheries.

“I think it is important to say that we are neighbors, we need to live together, we have a lot of resources we are harvesting trough common ways of dealing with it and it is important not to take that away,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said.

The Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb followed up by pointing to the Arctic Council.

“I think the Arctic cooperation is a quite a good example of the pragmatic and practical cooperation with Russia now despite the tension taking place in Ukraine right now. Having said that, Norway and the European Union counties have a set of sanctions that still prevail, but that is on the EU track, not on the Arctic,” Stubb said.