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Russian minister says no reasons for anticipating conflicts in Arctic

November 29, 2011, 14:47 UTC+3
There are no reasons to anticipate conflicts in the Arctic or to draw NATO into the solution of Arctic problems
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MOSCOW, November 29 (Itar-Tass) — There are no reasons to anticipate conflicts in the Arctic or to draw NATO into the solution of Arctic problems, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday after talks with Icelandic Foreign Minister Ossur Skarpherdinsson.

“Some politicians in other countries touch upon the issue /of possible conflicts in the Arctic area – Itar-Tass/,” Lavrov said. “For the most part they are the ones who have set eyes on the Arctic’s mineral resources and who are seeking to grab the things that don’t belong to them.”

He recalled that decisions on what should be done in the Arctic are taken by member-states of the Arctic Council, including Russia and Iceland.

“A regular session of the Council at the level of ministers, which was held in Nuuk this May, decided on what countries outside the region may join the Council’s activities in the capacity of observers,” Lavrov said. “The document strictly spells out the observers’ rights and duties, which envision the importance of being guided by the decisions of the eight member-states in what concerns the resolution of Arctic problems.”

The eight members of the Arctic Council are Russia, Denmark, Canada, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, and the U.S.

Lavrov called attention to the absence of whatever panicky moods among the eight countries or the ideas about a possible use of military measures in the Arctic.

“There are no reasons for expecting any conflict in that region and to draw NATO into the Arctic affairs – something that a number of people would like to see materialize,” he said.

Any problems emerging in that part of the world should be settled exclusively in the framework of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, Lavrov said.

Ossur Skarpherdinsson said on his part he does not think that the Arctic region will evidence any race for resources in the coming years or decades.

He stressed the existence of an instrument for resolving the conflict issues in the form of the UN Convention on the Law of Sea.

If there is an instrument of this kind, any disputes over resources will scarcely ever spring up and the future utilization of the regions’ mineral wealth will most likely be peaceful, Skarpherdinsson said.

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