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Academia Europea’s Annual Conference

Northern Seas – the European Dimension. Managing the High North

 

Mr Støre used these talking points for his address:

 

 

 

  • It is an honour for me to address this distinguished audience, which includes some of Europe’s most accomplished scholars.
  • In 2005, when my Government defined the High North – the Arctic – as its most strategic foreign policy objective, we also defined knowledge as being at its very core.
  • Norway – today a hub of knowledge on High North issues. Climate change, the ocean, resources, fisheries, minerals, geopolitics, international relations, etc. Geography matters.
  • Responsible political management – fact-based. It is about bringing together various stakeholders – national and regional authorities, businesses and knowledge institutions, partnerships, international cooperation. Continue investments in research and science.
  • Norway – Europe. Resources. History. Traditions. The old Hanseatic city of Bergen, where trade with
    other European city states were established as early as the 12th century. The main export product, which was exchanged for corn, spices and other luxury products, was fish. Salted, dried cod from the Barents Sea – in fact the same product that accounts for much of our current exports of seafood to Europe.
  • Today, another important resource links the northern maritime areas to the rest of Europe, namely petroleum. In fact, Norway supplies 35 % of EU imports of natural gas and 20 % of EU consumption, contributing to improved energy security in Europe. Illustration: Map of pipelines Norway-Europe. Shows the links to Europe. One third of the meals in French kitchens are cooked by Norwegian gas.
  • These northern seas: a European dimension today – as it was in the past. Interdependency. Mutual.
  • However, the most important resource of the High North is not petroleum. It is not fish, and it is not minerals. It is the knowledge of the people living there and the knowledge of all who are working on High North related issues, wherever they are located.
  • The three key drivers behind Norway’s High North policy, since 2005:
  • First: the climate change. The most obvious signs: the melting glaciers on Greenland and the shrinking Arctic ice cap.
  • Second: in the North, East meets West, our close relations to Russia (at all levels) and the developments in Russia, as well as the focus on international cooperation in the High North in general. In the early 1990s – only a few thousand people passed the border Norway-Russia, today: more than 200.000. Normalisation.
  • Third: the rich natural resources in the region. Access to new resources and economic activity – petroleum, minerals, fish, renewables and new transport routes, the North East Sea Route, new sailing route (may save 40 % time/costs).
  • What are the further characteristics of the Arctic today? Among other things:
  • Legal framework: There is no race to the Pole. (There is excitement, attention, focus and increased interest – yes, but no “race”). There is no “legal vacuum”. The Law of the Sea provides the precise legal framework for all activities in the Arctic Ocean, an ocean surrounded by land, in contrast to Antarctica, land surrounded by ocean. In the so-called Ilulissat Declaration (28 May 2008, Greenland) the five coastal states bordering the Arctic Ocean – the US, Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark/Greenland – affirmed their continued commitment to the legal framework in the Arctic Ocean.
  • Political and institutional cooperation established. The Arctic Council. The Barents Cooperation. The Northern Dimension. The Nordic cooperation. And close bilateral contacts.
  • The management of Norway’s High North regions, how do we define our priorities? Which development trends will shape the initiatives and priorities of Norwegian High North policy in the years to come? The Government’s strategies, the visions we see:
    • A new global energy region is developing.
    • We are moving towards a new industrial age in the north.
    • The growing interest in the Arctic Ocean. (Re: The official visit from Korea to Norway this week. Seeks observer status of the Arctic Council).
    • Need to develop integrated marine management.
    • Global source of knowledge about the environment and climate change. Tromsø – Arctic capital.
    • Close and innovative cooperation in the High North.
    • New geopolitical centre of gravity in the High North. Aim: High North – low tension. Today’s global trends (power, influence): Looking/moving East and South, but one should also be looking North.

 

***

More information: http://www.acadeuro.org/

 

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