The Arctic has always been and must remain a territory of dialogue and cooperation. This is the conclusion drawn by the Arctic Borders international conference which has ended in the Norwegian city of Tromso. This scientific and practical forum was held for the fifth time and representatives of almost 20 countries took part in it.
Today the Polar region’s treasures attract everyone. Oil and gas companies hope to gain access to the huge resources of that remote place. A very positive factor is that the Arctic is free from political instability which is characteristic of other parts of the world rich in resources. For this reason not only the northern countries lay their claim on the pie, even China is planning to build ice-breakers, says Yevgeny Nikora, the head of the Murmansk regional parliament and a participant in the conference.
“More and more countries are trying to raise their flags in the Arctic region. Nevertheless, their number can be restricted. Only five countries border on the Arctic, after all. But these Arctic countries, the Arctic five, are open for cooperation”.
Evidently, the Arctic is destined to play a special role in world politics. In spite of the strategies worked out by the Arctic-bordering countries, the Arctic is already becoming a region of the world oceans where mankind is learning the art of international compromise. “Crucial moments in the Arctic” is the leading idea of the Arctic Borders forum emphasized by its organizers.
Until now, there have been far from enough crucial moments in relations between states. On the other hand, ideas of creating a mini-NATO of the Scandinavian countries or building up the North European countries’ military presence in the Arctic spring up on a regular basis. Anyway, this region cannot survive without good-neighbourly relations. There is no alternative. It is to everyone’s benefit to develop scientific research so as to find out more about the Arctic. The whole world is affected by climatic change processes.
Another uniting factor is the struggle against environmental pollution. Russian and foreign companies, the British oil giant BP included, are planning to prospect for oil there together. The enormous cost of the work might urge companies to save on environmental protection.
Environmentalists are against any prospecting in the Arctic. They believe that the region has neither technology nor means to react to damage. Norwegian scientists fear environmental catastrophes similar to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The European Parliament recently adopted a resolution calling on the Arctic countries to keep close track of the activities of oil companies in the region.
Meanwhile, the ice has started to break in the Arctic, not only literally but also figuratively. We do not mean the global warming but only political good will. This good will is proved by the agreement on the delimitation of borders, achieved through much suffering, and other documents officially confirming good-neighbourly intentions of countries concerning the Arctic.