On March 29-30, Arctic countries will gather in Arkhangelsk, Russia to discuss current issues relating to the socioeconomic development of Arctic regions and for developing mechanisms for joint discovery and exploitation of the Arctic’s rich natural resource potential.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will take part in the forum, said in a statement posted on the International Arctic Forum website that “the Arctic must become a space for open and equitable dialogue based on the principles of universal and indivisible security. Russia will remain committed to the peaceful development of the region with full consideration for its own national interests and unconditional respect for the interests of other countries”.
The central theme of the upcoming Forum is “People and the Arctic”, focusing on ways to improve the quality of life for the local population and how to develop the region in a progressive and sustainable way.
Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who will also take part in the forum, stressed that the highest priority must be given to safeguarding the life and health of people in the Arctic. A skillfully organised and properly functioning security system for the Arctic zone is an important factor in enhancing investment appeal”.
Retired US General Charles F. Wald, a senior advisor to Deloitte Services, told New Europe earlier in March that the Arctic has a growing strategic importance.
“Of course, the Arctic hasn’t be explored yet from energy development. The Russian put their titanium on the seabed. But it has got different countries that have interests there. It’s going to open up to shipping. So now there is a strategic imperative to have security there. You need to keep the sea-lanes open. In the early stages it will freeze over a little so you need icebreakers to operate,” he added.
European Committee of Regions President Markku Markkula from Finland told New Europe in February that the European Union needs to play an active role in the Arctic instead of simply observing the developments in the region. EU-member Finland will assume the two-year rotating chairmanship position of the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum addressing sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic, in May 2017. “We want to see that from the EU prospective; how to convince the EU officials to take that much, much more seriously,” Markkula said.
The eight-country Arctic Council comprises of the United States, Canada, Russia, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, along with 12 additional observer countries that include China and India. In addition, six organisations representing Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants are permanent participants.