When it comes to our common areas in the Arctic, we must have a strategic partnership with the Russians, not just necessary cooperation.
This is why Nord University and Skolkovo, Moscow School of Management last month organized the conference “Mapping the future of the Arctic” They invited Norwegian, Russian, and international experts. Skolkovo is a school with great expertise in ecology, the Arctic, and sustainable development.
Skolkovo wants to be a bridge-builder for Norwegian researchers, politicians, and businesses. In these corona times, the meeting place was Zoom, and we had an hour and a half to hear very interesting perspectives. See the conference below, and more pictures are available here:
At the conference, the sustainability director of the Rosatom group, Polina Lion, spoke about how we can open new trade routes in the north, using Russian icebreakers, the world’s strongest, powered by nuclear power. Nuclear-powered icebreakers are the only icebreakers that can operate efficiently north of Russia, and therefore Lion also emphasized that Rosatom and Russia can operate in the Arctic without damaging our fragile ecosystem.
Jan Dusik from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) was also a guest. Dusik leads WWF’s work on sustainable development in the Arctic. He warned that environmental protection would be a parenthesis. This is a timely warning. Preserving the ecosystem for the next generations is absolutely fundamental for both Norway and Russia.
But despite the fact that protecting the environment is fundamental, it is also important to be technology optimists. With the changes in the climate, enormous opportunities will open up for business and shipping in the High North. Therefore, it was useful to hear the perspectives of shipowner Felix H. Tschudi at the conference.
Tschudi is a man who has great weight in the international shipping industry, and he comes from a shipowner family that has operated all over the world from Norway since 1883. Norwegian and Russian businesses must return to the good cooperation they had previously on how we can utilize the marine resources.
Together with the Russians, it is also very important to find good solutions for fishing and other life in the sea.
When it comes to petroleum, there are also enormous opportunities. Fifteen years ago, we talked a lot about how we could cooperate, for example, on the Shtokman field, and now the Russians invite us again into closer cooperation than before with the Norwegian authorities, Norwegian universities, the environmental movement, and the Norwegian petroleum industry.
For me personally, this is also extremely exciting. In 2007, I was editor-in-chief of the magazine Norway Exports, supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2007, I secured a foreword from Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, today’s general secretary of NATO, and I myself wrote many of the articles in the magazine. Here we presented many Norwegian companies to Russian partners. Read more in the magazine Russian Partnerships in the High North.
For those of you who read Russian, we also published a Russian language edition of this magazine, with Norwegian company profiles in Russian.
The fragile and rich nature of the Arctic is far too important to leave this to changing political currents. We need the expertise of Russia’s best scientists.
In Skolkovo, they also work closely with the Russian authorities. Feel free to read the press release published by the Russian government and the website arctic2050.info. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was also represented at the conference by the Russian Ambassador to the Arctic, Nikolay Korchunov, the Ambassador-at-Large.
I had the opportunity to ask the ambassador a question about our strategic partnership. Korchunov is positive about the economic development of the Arctic, with the increasing urbanization of cities in northern Russia. He is also an optimist when it comes to increased economic cooperation in the Barents region, as the engine of Arctic cooperation. The Russian government envisages a new strategic partnership with Norway where the goal is to make the Barents region more competitive.
We have common national security interests in managing the Arctic together in the best possible way, and the Arctic is our common treasury.
Is the Norwegian government ready to put daily policy aside to focus on a necessary strategic partnership with the Russians in the Artic? If the answer from Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg is positive, the continuation will be extremely exciting.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.