MOSCOW, September 19 /TASS/. The main achievement of the Arctic Council is that the Arctic region has been turned into a zone of peace, stability and cooperation, Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov said in an interview with TASS on occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Arctic Council’s foundation.
"The Arctic Council’s history is without doubt a story of success," the high-ranking diplomat said. "There has never been any bloc division within the Arctic Council in which all the states appear as national states and pass decisions on the basis of consensus," Titov said. According to him, the Arctic Council’s main achievement consists in turning the Arctic region into a zone of peace, stability and cooperation.
"The protection of Arctic’s fragile ecological system is a priority area of the Arctic Council’s activity. Over the past few years the Arctic Council has approved a framework for a pan-Arctic network of marine protected areas; the monitoring of biological diversity, financial instruments of supporting the Arctic Council’s projects; cooperation in preventing the oil pollution of Arctic marine protected areas from the oil and gas activities and navigation; and actions to cut the ejection of black soot and methane into the atmosphere," Titov stressed.
"At present, the preparation of an inter-governmental agreement for strengthening international Arctic cooperation is under way," the first deputy foreign minister said.
Russia believes that it is impossible to resolve full-scale tasks of Arctic’s sustainable development; seek the improvement of the living standards of population in the Far North, including indigenous peoples, without full-scale economic interaction, Vladimir Titov said as he commented on the Arctic Council’s future.
"Despite the current difficult stage in international relations, all the Arctic states are determined to continue regional cooperation. "None of the 80 joint projects, which have been implemented within the Arctic Council’s framework, has been stopped," Titov said.
There are plans to implement over 140 Arctic projects for a sum worth several trillion rubles. "A lion’s share (of that sum) will come from private investments into the exploration of oil, gas, coal and ore fields and the development of transport infrastructure, including the Northern Sea Route. We are inviting our foreign partners to implement projects in the territory of the Russian Arctic zone," Russia’s first deputy foreign minister concluded.
The Arctic Council was officially established in 1996 in accordance with Ottawa Declaration and is a high-level inter-governmental forum, which promotes cooperation in the Arctic region, especially in the sphere of environmental protection. The Arctic Council comprises eight Arctic states, including Russia, Denmark (with Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Iceland, Canada, Norway, the United States, Finland and Sweden.