MOSCOW, February 2. /TASS/. Any attempts to modify the Antarctic Treaty must be approached carefully, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview for the documentary "Antarctica: 200 years of peace," published on the ministry’s website.
"We do not need visas to fly to Antarctica. This is a unique region of our planet," Lavrov said. "I think we need to approach any attempts to modify the regime established by the [Antarctic] Treaty very carefully."
The minister stressed that Antarctica does not belong to any state. He reminded that last century, a number of countries attempted to claim parts of the continent and its surrounding waters, including the UK, Norway, Chile, Australia and New Zealand.
The Russian top diplomat informed that the 43rd session of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting is set to take place in May-June of this year timed to the 200th anniversary of the First Russian Antarctic Expedition (1819-1821) led by Fabian Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev.
"In my opinion, our joint work on the South Pole is an example of cooperation between states that leave all ideological differences behind and focus on research and peaceful development of this heritage that truly belongs to all of mankind," Lavrov concluded.
In the first half of the 20th century, various countries claimed their right to parts of the Antarctic, including the UK, Germany, France, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile and Japan. The Antarctic Treaty, which was signed in 1951 and entered into force in 1961, ended all disputes regarding the continent, setting Antarctica aside as a scientific preserve and banning all military activity on the continent. According to the treaty, Antarctica does not belong to any state.