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Have risen in a circle

Forum "Arctic Circle 2014" in Reykjavik went without politics, but on the verge of "fine balance" in relation to Russia

Have risen in a circle

At the beginning of the week, over 1400 participants from 40 countries of the world discussed the prospects for the development of the Arctic in Iceland. Russia, as a major player in the region, did not get the floor on the first day of the conference. But at the end of the event, our compatriots not only dotted all the i's, but also openly suggested not to look for artificial obstacles in the international development of the planet's “cap”.

The Arctic Circle conference turned Reykjavik into a few days in the Arctic village. Severe northern weather did not stop the arrival of even such "tropical" participants as Japan, Singapore and Brazil. Although, according to Russian delegates, the weather in Iceland was supercomfortable: these days, for example, in Yakutia frosts already prevailed under 30 degrees, and the island state welcomed the guests with a low "plus".

“We are trying to attract all partners,” said Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson at the opening of the forum. “We unite the efforts of the event participants and focus on specific projects that give an intellectual impetus - ideas, goals, practical solutions, positive cooperation.”

According to Grimsson, "the northern territories, which for centuries were backward, practically unknown to the whole world, become a local theater reflecting the political, environmental, social significance of each Arctic continent and countries in the world."

"A few years ago it was amazing when we started talking about the global Arctic. Now we have transformed into the Arctic village. We are creating a new policy, working together, "he said, stressing that such activities are important both for the Arctic and for the planet.

"Cooperation" and "unification"

The Prime Minister of Iceland Sigmundur Davio Gunnlaugsson noted that the “trend is obvious”: this is the peaceful cooperation of the states parties to the Arctic policy.

"The potential of the Arctic is oil and gas, fish, minerals. In addition, an alternative transport link that will allow Europe, North America, Asia to get closer, "he explained. He expressed the opinion that the key to the policy in the Arctic is cooperation with other regions: only the unification of different interests of different people will become the key to stability in it.

The words “cooperation” and “association” became the leitmotif of the whole event. However, this was its intrigue: in accordance with the program of the forum, on the first day Russian delegates were not included. Constructive promises emanated from representatives of the European Union - but without particular specifics, in broad strokes. So, Finnish President Sauli Niiniste remarked that the Arctic opens up new resources, transport routes for us, but at the same time we face serious risks: this is the environment, and small peoples. "In our hands, create new opportunities in the northern regions to prevent these risks," - said the head of Finland.

“Russia and the Western powers have disagreements over Ukraine,” the President of Finland spoke out on the sore international theme, “but in solving the Arctic problems they should be omitted, as the peoples of the Arctic must work together to cope with the melting of ice affecting the region with the population 4 million people. "

“If this work is paralyzed, then we will lose everything,” S. Niiniste expressed concern.

In Reykjavik, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was also waiting. However, Mrs. Merkel limited herself to a video greeting with a bright ecological message: Germany is ready to come to the aid of the Arctic and apply its entire environmental experience.

The intrigue of the introductory part of the forum remained until the appearance on the scene of a special representative in the Arctic and the former commander of the US Coast Guard Admiral Robert Papp. He repeatedly mentioned in his speech the name of President John F. Kennedy, who believed that the main task of 1960's. should be sending a man to the moon. "In 1962, Kennedy said:" We chose the flight to the moon, not because it is simple, but because it is difficult. " This flight was supposed to serve as an example that big problems can be overcome. If the project of a man’s flight to the Moon is limited only by scientific barriers, then in the case of the Arctic it is necessary to unite in solving political and socio-economic problems, not to mention ecology, ”said R. Papp.

The parallel with John F. Kennedy was not accidental. The next thesis of the admiral concerned the activities of Russia in the region and, in particular, the development of our country's military potential in the Arctic. “We are concerned about some of the activities that Russia is doing in the Arctic,” he said. “Ukraine is not a secret ... however, we are considering the possibility of maintaining business relations.”

On the subsequent question of what role the Arctic plays in the US foreign policy, Papp replied: "This is a delicate balance." The rest of the questions to Mr. Pappa, apparently, to avoid unpleasant situations, they did not give. And the conference continued as part of a peaceful discussion of socio-economic problems. Already without politics.

If at the plenary sessions the industrial development of the Arctic was dominant, then in the working groups the range of issues was much wider - from infrastructure to innovation and tourism components. “The Future of the Arctic”, “Young People in the Arctic: Uniting the Leaders Today and Tomorrow”, “North and East on the Arctic Circle”, “Business in the Arctic”, “Shipping”, “Infrastructure”, “Mineral Extraction”, “Regional Cooperation Regions ”,“ Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic. Regional Dynamics in the Global World ”,“ Energy in the Arctic ”. Separate presentations in the framework of interest to the north were presented by France, Great Britain, China, Japan, Finland, Quebec Province and Russia.

Russia has dotted the "i"

The platform for Russia's performance was presented only on the second day of the event. The position of the country in the Arctic was designated by the Hero of the USSR and Hero of Russia, a member of the Federation Council, a well-known polar explorer, and special ambassador of the Russian President in the Arctic Arthur Chilingarov.

“Russia as the largest Arctic power, much of which is located in the far north, has been and remains a supporter of a constructive dialogue on all issues on the Arctic agenda. We firmly believe that in the Arctic there are no problems that could not be solved on the basis of good-neighborliness and constructive dialogue. There are no problems in the Arctic requiring military solutions, ”he said.

A.Cilingarov listed the main areas of work in the Arctic zone - defending national sovereignty in the Arctic, economic development of the north, combined with a careful attitude to the environment and the interests of indigenous peoples, state support of the northern regions, wide-ranging cooperation with other Arctic states. "This position of the powers is a solid foundation for the peaceful and neighborly development of the Arctic region," he said.

A well-known polar explorer gave several examples of scientific and industrial development of the Arctic. In particular, Rosneft drilled the northernmost well of the Russian Federation, "Universitetskaya -1", as a result of which the Pobeda oil field was discovered. The project involved 8 foreign companies, including such giants as ExxonMobil. A.Cilingarov placed all the points above the "i" about the Russian position in this matter (because of sanctions, ExxonMobile refused to cooperate with Rosneft - Ed.), which I wanted to hear all the participants of the event.

“Unfortunately, this cooperation is now interrupted. And I do not want to go into the reasons. But in my deep conviction, because of the suspension of such a strategically important long-term project, all parties were affected. We strive to maintain relations with our foreign partners so that they have the opportunity to return to the project after political relations are normalized, ”he said.

Yakutia stressed the value of interregional cooperation

Of the Arctic regions of Russia, the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) has become the main actor of the forum, which today heads one of the institutions of international Arctic cooperation - the organization of the Northern Forum. Head of the Republic Yegor Borisov said that a huge part of Yakutia is located above the Arctic Circle, which complicates the development of its enormous natural wealth (primarily diamond mining, oil and gas). Difficult transport accessibility, climatic conditions, low population density also impede the development of the region (for more information on the Arctic, in an interview with Borisov for -

Speaking about the northern territories later, at the plenary session “Cooperation of the Northern Regions”, organized by the Northern Forum and the Arctic Portal, E. Borisov continued the topic, stressing that we should not forget about supporting and preserving the culture of the indigenous minorities of the north.

"In order to make optimal decisions on the development of the Arctic zone, the interaction between Alaska, China, South Korea, Lapland, the subjects of Canada and the Russian Federation is important," Borisov emphasized.

The head of Yakutia gave an example that in the Republic of Yakutia the Arctic Institute of Culture and Arts was created, in which the peculiarities of indigenous small peoples are studied. "This experience through the Northern Forum can be extended to other regions," he suggested.

In the matter of developing the competencies of the Northern Forum, the head of Yakutia was supported by the mayor of the Icelandic city of Akureyri Erikur Björn Bjorgvinsson. He explained that his city with a population of 18 thousand people is one of the active participants of the Northern Forum.

“It is not enough that discussions take place only at the level of local business and government. It is very important for the regions and municipalities to represent the interests of the people who live there at the international level. And membership in the Northern Forum provides the opportunity to defend their rights in the Arctic Council, ”he explained.

Director of the Arctic Portal ( Halldor Johanson explained that at the moment it is difficult to determine what is falling under the notion of the Arctic. Therefore, the portal, created with the participation of Yakutia, pays attention to different areas that are interrelated.

"We are engaged in the melting of ice that will lead to climate change, which in turn can cause collapse of the houses on the piles in Yakutia, but, on the other hand, will lead to an increase in fish in the reservoirs," he said. "We have a section on shipping, where we are trying to analyze how to minimize the risks associated with this activity." The portal has pages on the activities of the European Union in the Arctic, tourism and culture.

Although the forum mostly sounded recommendations of a recommendatory nature, I want to believe that some proposals - for example, the introduction of medical devices by the French company Parsys for remote transmission of information about pressure or the work of the heart - will soon become a reality in the northern regions of the Arctic. At least, we will find out about this in a year at a new meeting "Arctic Circle" in Reykjavik.

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