The changing Arctic: how
where the experts come to talk

The changing Arctic: how involved should NATO be?

A global challenge requires a global approach. And the melting of the Arctic ice is certainly an issue whose effects will be felt around the world. But how much is this a NATO issue? What role could – or should – the Alliance play? NATO Review interviews the Norwegian Foreign Minister, Espen Barth Eide, to see why he invited NATO to take a closer look at the issue.

The changing Arctic:

How involved should NATO be?

In 2009 NATO Review

visited the High North

to analyse the security implications

of the Arctic ice melting.

One of the key issues that needs

to be determined is the sea.

At present, there’s a huge

mass of ice around the North Pole,

but that's quickly melting.

Once that becomes navigable sea,

the question remains:

Who owns that?

Four years later,

NATO’s North Atlantic Council,

which represents all 28 members,

visited the region,

at the invitation of Norwegian

Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide.

We asked the minister why he felt

the region needed more attention

and how NATO could help.

Minister, you’ve invited

the NAC to visit the High North.

Can you tell me what the motivation

behind that invitation was?

The Arctic is a region that should

be of great interest to the Alliance.

Not because it is

in any type of crisis or drama,

rather the other way around,

this is an area of cooperation,

but it is also an area,

which is opening up to new activities,

which we did not see before,

because of the icecap.

It’s more on the global agenda

and the European agenda,

America’s, Canada’s

and also Russia’s agenda.

And we are also seeing

that a lot of Asian countries,

China and South Korea

and Japan, Singapore, India,

a lot of countries far away

from the Arctic, take an interest.

They see this

as a global development.

In the Arctic

there are different countries

and different national

perspectives and priorities.

Is this is a challenge? It’s a security

area with conflicting interests.

There have been

different views on the degree

to which this is

an issue on NATO’s table.

That’s true, but I hope we will

be able to talk us through that.

So that we understand

that those of us who argue in favour

are not arguing in favour

because we need a military presence

to fence off somebody else,

but simply that the area is important.

It’s our vicinity and an entry point

to both North America

and to Northern-Europe,

and as such it should be

on NATO’s watch list.

Just as we are

interested in the Black Sea,

which is

the neighbourhood of NATO,

or in the Mediterranean

or the Baltic Sea,

we also think the Arctic

should be on NATO’s watch list.

It’s getting more important

and it’s not only important

to those of us who live in the Arctic,

but the new sailing routes,

connections, resource race...

There are enormous

fossil fuel resources for instance.

We always took an interest

in areas with fossil fuel,

like in the Arab world.

There are new opportunities for

minerals, shipping, fishing and so on.

A lot of countries will be interested in

overseeing that this is well managed.

Possibly the biggest

problem is territory.

Which territory belongs to who?

This is ongoing whilst

the other issues are being decided.

Is it possible to move forward

whilst the territory issue

remains an ongoing dispute?

So, yes, there are still some,

relatively few overlapping claims,

but the good news is that everyone

agrees on how they’re to be solved.

By law and by judicial mechanisms

that we all invest in

rather than by conflict or fighting.

That’s really good.

I think that the challenges

we will be seeing in the Arctic

are not so much between countries.

They are more shared challenges

that countries have to solve together.

And I don’t think all these issues

should be solved in NATO.

There are issues

to be solved in the Arctic Council.

There are issues

that will be solved in the IMO,

because they are about quality,

shipping or platforms.

In terms of the challenges that the

area throws up, there are numerous.

The mineral resources,

the trade routes, the transit, etc.

Where do you start?

- We have instruments

that are capable of dealing

with the level of activity of today.

We do not have instruments,

which are ready

to deal with the activities

that we will have in ten years.

So, we have to step up our activities

when it comes

to regulating transport lines,

regulating quality of shipping,

try to solve the intersection

between oil and gas exploitation

and fishing or other marine

resources on the other side.

And we have to keep working to

deconflict the still overlapping claims

that are up in the area. We have

deconflicted ours with the Russians.

Recently, Canada and Denmark

agreed on the division line

between their economic

claims in the Lincoln Sea.

There are less disputes,

but we have to keep working.

The changing Arctic:

How involved should NATO be?

In 2009 NATO Review

visited the High North

to analyse the security implications

of the Arctic ice melting.

One of the key issues that needs

to be determined is the sea.

At present, there’s a huge

mass of ice around the North Pole,

but that's quickly melting.

Once that becomes navigable sea,

the question remains:

Who owns that?

Four years later,

NATO’s North Atlantic Council,

which represents all 28 members,

visited the region,

at the invitation of Norwegian

Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide.

We asked the minister why he felt

the region needed more attention

and how NATO could help.

Minister, you’ve invited

the NAC to visit the High North.

Can you tell me what the motivation

behind that invitation was?

The Arctic is a region that should

be of great interest to the Alliance.

Not because it is

in any type of crisis or drama,

rather the other way around,

this is an area of cooperation,

but it is also an area,

which is opening up to new activities,

which we did not see before,

because of the icecap.

It’s more on the global agenda

and the European agenda,

America’s, Canada’s

and also Russia’s agenda.

And we are also seeing

that a lot of Asian countries,

China and South Korea

and Japan, Singapore, India,

a lot of countries far away

from the Arctic, take an interest.

They see this

as a global development.

In the Arctic

there are different countries

and different national

perspectives and priorities.

Is this is a challenge? It’s a security

area with conflicting interests.

There have been

different views on the degree

to which this is

an issue on NATO’s table.

That’s true, but I hope we will

be able to talk us through that.

So that we understand

that those of us who argue in favour

are not arguing in favour

because we need a military presence

to fence off somebody else,

but simply that the area is important.

It’s our vicinity and an entry point

to both North America

and to Northern-Europe,

and as such it should be

on NATO’s watch list.

Just as we are

interested in the Black Sea,

which is

the neighbourhood of NATO,

or in the Mediterranean

or the Baltic Sea,

we also think the Arctic

should be on NATO’s watch list.

It’s getting more important

and it’s not only important

to those of us who live in the Arctic,

but the new sailing routes,

connections, resource race...

There are enormous

fossil fuel resources for instance.

We always took an interest

in areas with fossil fuel,

like in the Arab world.

There are new opportunities for

minerals, shipping, fishing and so on.

A lot of countries will be interested in

overseeing that this is well managed.

Possibly the biggest

problem is territory.

Which territory belongs to who?

This is ongoing whilst

the other issues are being decided.

Is it possible to move forward

whilst the territory issue

remains an ongoing dispute?

So, yes, there are still some,

relatively few overlapping claims,

but the good news is that everyone

agrees on how they’re to be solved.

By law and by judicial mechanisms

that we all invest in

rather than by conflict or fighting.

That’s really good.

I think that the challenges

we will be seeing in the Arctic

are not so much between countries.

They are more shared challenges

that countries have to solve together.

And I don’t think all these issues

should be solved in NATO.

There are issues

to be solved in the Arctic Council.

There are issues

that will be solved in the IMO,

because they are about quality,

shipping or platforms.

In terms of the challenges that the

area throws up, there are numerous.

The mineral resources,

the trade routes, the transit, etc.

Where do you start?

- We have instruments

that are capable of dealing

with the level of activity of today.

We do not have instruments,

which are ready

to deal with the activities

that we will have in ten years.

So, we have to step up our activities

when it comes

to regulating transport lines,

regulating quality of shipping,

try to solve the intersection

between oil and gas exploitation

and fishing or other marine

resources on the other side.

And we have to keep working to

deconflict the still overlapping claims

that are up in the area. We have

deconflicted ours with the Russians.

Recently, Canada and Denmark

agreed on the division line

between their economic

claims in the Lincoln Sea.

There are less disputes,

but we have to keep working.

quotes
Queen Elizabeth II
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