23 September 2011, 19:36

Archangelsk hosts 2nd International Arctic Forum

Archangelsk hosts 2nd International Arctic Forum

Russia sees the Arctic region as a venue for international cooperation. The issues of the region’s development should be discussed on the highest international level.

Russia sees the Arctic region as a venue for international cooperation. The issues of the region’s development should be discussed on the highest international level. With this purpose on September 21-24, the city of Arkhangelsk in Russia’s north hosts the Second International Arctic Forum “The Arctic – Territory of Dialogue” sponsored by the Russian Geographical Society (RGS). Among the participants are scientists, experts, prominent public and political figures, and representatives of Arctic Council member and observer countries.

The Arctic region’s development will be advantageous for everyone – for businesses and governments. Its main treasure – huge oil and gas reserves – is hidden under the ice of the Arctic Ocean. Oil and gas production in severe climate conditions of the North is impossible without proper transportation infrastructure.  That is why this year the forum focuses on creating Arctic transportation infrastructure as a foundation for the development of the Arctic. This primarily involves the development of commercial and research navigation, transportation terminals (sea ports and airports) and corridors (the Northern Sea Route), polar aviation, cargo and passenger trans-polar and cross-polar transportation.

It is clear that the main Arctic nations – Russia, the US and Canada - should cooperate to carry out such challenging tasks. The Arctic forum contributes to the progress in discussion of political and scientific aspects of such cooperation, the president of the Russian Geographical Society Vladimir Kotlyakov says.  

"After the break-up of the Soviet Union led to stagnation in the Arctic region’s development.  Now the time has come when it is necessary to revive it and the forum facilitates cooperation in this field. Cooperation is a must in the Arctic region. It has large reserves which should be used but it is impossible to explore and develop them independently. On the other hand there are political territorial disputes around the Arctic region, which can be resolves only through negotiations. If they are resolved unilaterally new conflicts will emerge."

The participants of the dialogue find that it is necessary to hold the conference of regular basis. Last year the first Arctic forum focused on the issue of environmental clean-up of the region. Since then Russia has got down to business. In particular the barrels with oil wastes are being transported from Franz Jozef Land in the Barents Sea.

The first Arctic conference also triggered the definition of external borders of the Russian continental shelf. Russia submitted its request to the UN for the recognition of Lomonosov and Mendeleev Ridges as part of the Russian territory of the Continental shelf. The request was grounded by the data Russian scientists had obtained during a special expedition. However, the UN’s commission asked Russia to provide more accurate data. Russia plans to submit a new request in 2013. 

In May the first pan-Arctic agreement on cooperation in aviation and naval search and rescue operations was signed. The head of International relations department of the Finnish Interior Ministry Timo Viitanen told our radio station more about this document.

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The forum’s participants also spoke about the need to adopt legal framework for the Arctic cooperation. Protection of the unique eco-system of the region should become the key principle of this legislation.

At present, a new document is being prepared on interaction of the Arctic nations in fighting environmental disasters, in particular with oil spills. The talks on this agreement should start in October. It is likely that by the next forum the law on the regulation of navigation along Northern Sea Route will come into force. Speaking at the forum, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that the law will be adopted by the end of the year.

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