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Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting Reaffirms Cooperative Approach

May 11, 2017 (EIRNS)—Media projections of geopolitical tensions at today’s Ministerial Meeting of the eight member states of the Arctic Council in Fairbanks, Alaska were once again proven wrong. The rug was pulled out of that lie, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s stop in the Washington on his way to the meeting.

Chairmanship of the Council rotates between the member states Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States every two years, and the Foreign Ministers of the twenty-year-old Council meet at the conclusion of each term or rotation to review where policies stand, and lay out prospects for the next two years. With military matters explicitly excluded from its agenda, the Council has served to foster cooperation between nations on developing this remaining frontier on Earth.

Among the outcomes of this meeting, chaired by the U.S., was the signing of a binding agreement to facilitate cooperation on scientific research in the region, which ensures that scientists, their equipment and data can flow more freely across international boundaries within the Arctic. An Arctic Shipping Traffic Database has been set up over the last two years; an assessment of telecommunications in the region led to the decision to establish a Task Force on Improved Connectivity in the Arctic; and a new Arctic Economic Council is now moving into the operational stage.

Both the Russian Foreign Ministry and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Balton (Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental Affairs) emphasized in statements prior to the meeting, that unlike other regions in the world, "the Arctic remains stable and peaceful," as Balton stated in his May 8 background briefing on the Council meeting.

As Balton elaborated:

"Through the Arctic Council, we have a venue that has been doing very well in promoting international cooperation among all the eight nations, including Russia. Whatever other differences may exist between the United States, Russia, and other members of the Arctic Council and Russia relating to other parts of the world, don’t manifest themselves in the work of the Arctic Council. That has remained a very cooperative body."

The May 10 Russian Foreign Ministry statement pointed out that Arctic Council

"members are not divided into blocs, and all decisions are adopted by consensus. This makes it possible to maintain sustained Arctic cooperation."

Largely because of the Council’s efforts, the policy of cooperation continued, "despite aggravated international relations. Not a single Arctic Council project has been terminated."

This policy must continue, even as

"major international players are now focusing on the Arctic more actively. This leads to rivalry and clashes of interests and ambitions of various countries, including those from beyond the Arctic region,"

it added.

"Russia views the Arctic as a territory of dialogue and cooperation and is determined to resolutely counter any attempts to bring tensions and a policy of confrontation to the region."

The policy of cooperation is expected to continue under the new chairmanship of Finland. It was reported when President Xi Jinping visited Finland on April 5, Finland agreed to bring China’s voice into Council deliberations on how to improve Arctic affairs. A speaker at an event at the Finnish Ambassador to London’s residence today declared that "there will be no Cold War in the Arctic," Sputnik reported today.

The other hot issue projected for the Council’s meeting, was the British Monarchy’s genocidal Paris climate change agreement. The problem of climate change in the Arctic is all over the final declaration adopted by all member states, but what is meant by "climate change" remains to be fought out.

President Putin’s dismissal of the man-made climate danger is well-known. Now Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the Council in his opening remarks that

"in the United States, we are currently reviewing several important policies, including how the Trump administration will approach the issue of climate change. We are appreciative that each of you has an important point of view, and you should know that we are taking the time to understand your concerns. We’re not going to rush to make a decision. We’re going to work to make the right decision for the United States. The Arctic Council will continue to be an important platform as we deliberate on these issues."