The 11th Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council (AC) took place held in Rovaniemi (Finland) on 6–7 May. The Russian delegation was headed by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov. Foreign ministers from all eight member countries attended the AC meeting for only the second time in this international organization’s history. On the final day of the ministerial meeting, Finland officially handed over the chairmanship of the AC to Iceland for the next two-year period at a special ministerial session.
The meeting participants emphasized that they highly appreciated Finland’s activities as chairman of the Arctic Council. Some of the most important achievements of Finland’s chairmanship include strengthening and developing synergies using the Arctic Council platform to enhance the region’s resistance to global climate change, minimizing the human impact on the environment, preserving biodiversity, and developing telecommunications infrastructure. Russia was actively involved in the council’s work to establish close interaction between the working bodies of the Arctic Council, work in joint formats, and prepare joint expert materials and recommendations.
The Russian Federation will take over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021. “The consolidation of the international community’s efforts to develop the Far North is the key to the success of the Arctic’s sustainable development. Russia thanks Finland for its work and welcomes Iceland’s strategic plans as chairman of the Arctic Council”, Lavrov said. “In summing up the results of the ‘Arctic: Territory of Dialogue’ 5th International Arctic Forum, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia is building a platform of actions based on eco-friendly technologies. We will ensure this policy continues during Russia’s chairmanship in the AC in 2021–2023”.
During this period, Russia will focus on practical areas of work to improve the environment such as transitioning to the use of liquefied natural gas as a fuel in the transport and energy sectors, developing a circular economy, and renewable energy. Another important issue will be the problem of efficient and sustainable energy supply to Arctic villages. Special attention will be devoted to improving the prosperity and lives of people living in the Arctic and the indigenous peoples of the Far North as well as creating conditions for the development and preservation of their languages, culture, and traditions.
Lavrov held individual bilateral talks with the foreign affairs ministers of the U.S., Iceland, and Sweden on the sidelines of the ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi.
The Arctic Council, a high-level intergovernmental forum, was established on 19 September 1996 in Ottawa (Canada) by eight Arctic states: Russia, Denmark, Iceland, Canada, Norway, the United
States, Finland, and Sweden. Six organizations of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic have the status of a permanent participant in the AC: the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON), the Arctic Athabaskan Council (AAC), the Aleut International Association (AIA), Gwich’in Council International (GCI), the Saami Council (SC), and the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC).
Official website of the Arctic Council: https://arctic-council.org/index.php/en/about-us
Official website of the International Arctic Forum: forumarctica.ru