The Arctic countries have pledged to fight global warming, which is taking place three times faster than the rest of the world and to maintain peace in the region as national demand increases.
Extreme heat, unused equipment, new water channels have been opened and the sea ice reclaimed, and the future of the locals all culminated in their talks when foreign ministers of Arctic Frontier State met in Reykjavik in Iceland on Thursday.
“We are committed to promoting a peaceful Arctic environment in which climate, environmental, scientific and security co-operation exists,” United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken told colleagues at the Arctic Council from Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden.
“The Arctic as a region of intense competition has attracted the attention of people all over the world” but the ‘rule of law’ should be shown to be a non-conflict zone where countries act responsibly, “he added.
Operating the system
Summer has opened the Arctic for shipping, fishing, drilling and mining, and China, a Council observer, has not hidden its interest in the vast ecosystem and where the sea ice has opened up new sea routes.
In the meantime, Russia has re-established its military force in the Arctic – reopening and rehabilitating the governments that have been abandoned since the fall of the Soviet Union – and the United States has reaffirmed military action.
“It is important to develop the good relations we have with the Arctic Council so that they can also join forces with the military,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told attendees.
“We have shown at the conference that we do not see any reasons for the controversy here. In addition to making other military programs here,” Lavrov told reporters.
The Russian ambassador also said that his country was in agreement with the idea of holding an Arctic summit during his two years in office.
Lavrov also called for a resumption of meetings between the leaders of the countries that are members of the Council.
Annual meetings between military leaders from Arctic countries were suspended in 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Russia has not participated in the Arctic Security Forces Roundtable since 2014.
The Arctic Council was established 25 years ago to address issues such as the environment and working areas around the world, and its mission is not to inform security forces.
The discussion focused on the impact of global warming on the fifth-largest region.
“Climate change is a long-term threat due to Arctic warming three times more than anywhere else in the world,” Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau told the Council.
Most of the dangers were part of a report released Thursday by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), which also warns of an increased risk that the region’s glaciers will dry up completely before summer, before winter.
“We have a responsibility to strengthen our partnership to help the people of the Arctic,” said Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod.
At a previous meeting of the 2019 Council of Ministers in Finland, Trump’s administration barred the signing of the first communications agreement since its inception in 1996, when it refused to include climate change in the final terms.
The adoption of a joint statement on Thursday did not go unnoticed, as did the 10-year academic agreement for the first time in Council history.
In addition to the countries bordering the Arctic, the Council also includes six organizations representing indigenous peoples and 13 observer countries.
Blinken ended his four-day trip, which began in Denmark, with a direct visit to Greenland, where he told reporters that the US wanted to make an agreement with Greenland – the Danish segment – “very strong” and that he could “prove” that the US had not tried to buy.