Image via WikipediaCanada and Russia can cooperate in the Arctic on a wide range of issues, Anton Vasilyev, RF Foreign Ministry’ s Ambassador at Large, in charge of issues of international cooperation in the Arctic, said in an interview with Itar-Tass. He took part in a working meeting of members of the Committee of Senior Officials of the Arctic Council that ended in the Canadian capital on Thursday.
“We have very good cooperation at the international level,” he stressed. “The Arctic is changing, new opportunities and new challenges emerge, and they are the factors that move the relationship in one direction - rapprochement and cooperation.”
As an example of Russian-Canadian cooperation he cited the project of the Krasnoyarsk-Winnipeg air bridge. “Much work is ahead, we are to settle a number of technical issues, approve the project at the session of the Russia-Canada intergovernmental economic commission,” he noted. “But already now there is a reason to believe that the prospects of an air bridge between Winnipeg and Krasnoyarsk are quite real. This project meets the interests of all, there is infrastructure for its implementation, so it should go ahead.”
Another promising project - the creation of the “Arctic bridge” between the ports of Murmansk and Churchill (Manitoba). “The Canadian now is considering the possibility of expanding the use of this port,” Vasilyev said. “Up to date, three ships have called from Murmansk to Churchill, the latest call was about a month ago. But despite the fact that the number of voyages is small, they nevertheless are deeply symbolic. The idea of establishing ties between Murmansk and Churchill could become a symbol of our cooperation and concrete example of how we can interact,” the RF official noted.
The Arctic is an enormous area, sprawling over one sixth of the earths’ landmass; more than 30 million km2 and twenty-four time zones. It has a population of about four million, including over thirty different indigenous peoples and dozens of languages. The Arctic is a region of vast natural resources and a very clean environment compared with most areas of the world.
The Ottawa Declaration of 1996 formally established the Arctic Council as a high level intergovernmental forum to provide a means for promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, with the involvement of the Arctic Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.
Member States of the Arctic Council are Canada, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States of America. In addition to the Member States, the Arctic Council has the category of Permanent Participants. This category is open equally to Arctic organizations of Indigenous peoples with a majority of Arctic Indigenous constituency representing: a single Indigenous people resident in more than one Arctic State; or more than one Arctic Indigenous people resident in a single Arctic State.
The category of Permanent Participation is created to provide for active participation of, and full consultation with, the Arctic Indigenous representatives within the Arctic Council. This principle applies to all meetings and activities of the Arctic Council. The following organisations are Permanent Participants of the Arctic Council: Aleut International Association (AIA), Arctic Athabaskan Council (AAC), Gwich'in Council International (GCI), Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), Saami Council, Russian Arctic Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON).
The Arctic Council Ministerial Meetings are held biannually in the country holding the chairmanship. The host country serves as chair of the Arctic Council from the conclusion of a biennial Ministerial Meeting to the conclusion of the next biennial Ministerial Meeting, and thus coordinates arrangements for the Ministerial Meeting and meetings of the Senior Arctic Officials. Since the Norwegian Chairmanship 2006-2009, Ministerial Meetings will be held in the spring rather than the late autumn. This change extended the Norwegian Chairmanship slightly to two years and 5 months. Meetings of Senior Arctic Officials are held every six months in the host country.