18 May 2011, 16:12

Denmark wants to claim North Pole

Denmark wants to claim North Pole

Denmark plans to lay claims to the North Pole. According to Danish media, Copenhagen plans to make public its Northern Strategy next month. This document contains the demands for the continental shelf in 5 zones around the Faroe Islands and Greenland, including the North Pole.

Denmark plans to lay claims to the North Pole. According to Danish media, Copenhagen plans to make public its Northern Strategy next month. This document contains the demands for the continental shelf in 5 zones around the Faroe Islands and Greenland, including the North Pole. The Arctic countries’ applications to shelf sections will be considered by the United Nations, and they must be submitted to the organization before 2014. 

The fight for the Arctic Region has become more intensified in the past decade. And the reason is clear: according to experts, confirmed deposits of hydrocarbons will last mankind another 40 years at the maximum, and there’s up to one-fourth of the world’s reserves of oil and gas in the Arctic. The Arctic shelf is also rich in coal, gold, copper, nickel, tin, and platinum. The situation with the North Sea Route adds more intrigue to the situation because thanks to global warming and ice thaw, the Europe- Far East route may become shorter by 6,000 kilometres. Naturally, not only the northerners but also countries situated farther south, including China, South Korea and Japan, show a heightened interest in the Arctic.

And still, Russia, the USA, Canada, Norway, and Denmark are the key players on the Arctic field. Russia, the USA, Norway, and Canada have adopted the Arctic strategy documents 2 or 3 years ago. As regards Russia, these are the Fundamentals of State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Arctic For the Period till 2020 and For a Further Perspective, and as regards the USA, Norway, and Canada, these are the Northern Strategies. And as regards Denmark, judging by the latest reports, it will work out its own strategy within the coming month.   

Analysts say that despite its membership in the European Union and NATO, Denmark has always tried to keep its relations with the other countries which have claims to the North Pole balanced. As they say, the main reason is this: in case of a spontaneous or a forceful division of the Arctic territories, Copenhagen will lose more than all the other participants in a re-division. That is why it is absolutely logical that Denmark’s leadership proposes Russia, Canada, the USA and Norway to work out general principles for delimitating the Arctic borders at an international conference.    

And as regards Copenhagen’s claims to the North Pole, Denmark has certain grounds for this, as well as all the other game participants though, an expert with the Institute of State and Law of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vassily Gutsulyak, said in an interview with the Voice of Russia:

"Denmark is one of the Arctic countries. In this sector each one of them has a right to the continental shelf within the limits of 200 nautical miles. However, Denmark believes that it can have a greater portion. That is why it is working out the documents to be submitted to the commission on the borders of the continental shelf. This fits in well into the contemporary international law regime of the Arctic."

As you might remember, the main disputes concern the ownership of the Lomonosov underwater mountain chain in the Arctic, which runs across the Arctic Ocean bed, not far from the North Pole. And the country which will be able to prove that the Lomonosov Ridge is the continuation of its continental shelf will have legal grounds to regard not only the North Pole but also the adjoining territories as its ownership. Russia’s application is with the United Nations for several years now. And still Moscow continues sending scientific expeditions to examine the Arctic Ocean bed, which bring it more data in support of the fact that the Lomonosov Ridge starts on the Russian shelf. However, the commission, as it appears, is giving time to the other participants in the “Arctic process” as well, so that they will be able to prepare more carefully for possible developments. Let’s wait for the year 2014. For the time being, Canada is sending its cruisers into the Arctic waters, and the North European countries are working to reach an agreement on the establishment of a “mini-NATO” for protecting the Arctic from Russia. This is quite understandable because the price of the issue is very high. Let’s be hopeful that the well-known self-control will be helpful in reining in the emotions.

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