13 May 201111:28

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s Attendance at the Arctic Council Meeting Held in Nuuk, Greenland on May 12, 2011


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Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, participated in the 7th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting on May 12.

The results of the meeting, held in a constructive, intense and lively manner, generally reflected the new level reached in regional cooperation that matches the enhanced role of the Arctic both for the Arctic states themselves and in world politics as a whole.

The Arctic Council ministers signed the first-ever pan-Arctic legally binding document, the Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic, worked out under the co-chairmanship of Russia and the United States and aimed at helping people in distress in the Arctic more promptly and effectively. The agreement creates additional prerequisites for Arctic development and reflects the high responsibility of the Arctic states for the state of affairs in the region.

The ministers took decision to strengthen the Arctic Council. Its permanent secretariat with its own budget will be established, and recommendations by the Council will gradually be given a more binding character. Russia announced that it had taken decision to make the first contribution to the Project Support Instrument, the Council's first collective fund that aims to focus on actions for eliminating the ecological flashpoints preeminently in Russia, which will help launch the work of the Instrument. Recommendations on the informational work of the Council were endorsed.

New provisions for the role and criteria of observers in the Arctic Council were approved. This will help regularize the process of granting observer status to non-Arctic states and organizations and will clearly define the rights and duties of observers.

The Arctic Council ministers considered and endorsed a number of major scientific-practical reports devoted to the issues of climate change and the melting of sea ice, the factors of climate change, sources of pollution in the Arctic environment (mercury in particular), the behavioral peculiarities of dangerous substances in Arctic conditions, the Arctic biodiversity trends and a number of others.

They took decision to draw up a new pan-Arctic document on cooperation in the area of preparedness and response to marine oil spills under the co-chairmanship of Russia.

Among the new major projects of the Council for the next period: the elaboration of the questions of the governance of Arctic marine ecosystems, an integrated assessment of the many-sided factors of Arctic changes and human development trends in the changing conditions of the Arctic.

There was noted the successful realization of the initiatives put forward by Russia in the Arctic Council, such as the idea of a gradual creation of a regional system to prevent and combat man-made disasters, and Electronic Memory of the Arctic (establishing a generally accessible Internet archive of data on Arctic development and culture). Russia's new projects include providing support to the young reindeer breeders of the Arctic, working together with organizations of the indigenous peoples in cleaning up the pollution in territories, and others.

Sergey Lavrov pointed out the importance of the two Arctic-related events being held in 2011 by Russia – an international conference involving high representatives of the Arctic states during the Northern Sea Route voyage on the nuclear-powered icebreaker Yamal, to be organized under Russian Security Council auspices, and the Second International Arctic Forum ‘The Arctic: Territory of Dialogue' to be organized by the Russian Geographical Society. Both events will be dedicated to the prospects of further increasing international cooperation in the Arctic, primarily in the field of transport.

The meeting ended with the signing of a political declaration recording the key aspects of the work of the Arctic Council and plans for the future.

Sweden took over the two-year chairmanship from Denmark at the meeting.

Russia is satisfied with the results of the meeting, which has confirmed the central role of the Arctic Council in the organization and promotion of regional cooperation.

May 13, 2011

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