Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson worries that Russia’s actions in the Ukraine could cause issues for international cooperation on the Arctic Council, reports The Star.
Sigmundur who has been on a trade mission to Edmonton, Canada, expressed concern over Russia’s strong-arm tactics and wondered if this might make it harder for the eight countries on the Arctic Council – which Canada currently chairs- to reach agreements on critical issues.
“This has a ripple effect, even though the actual events [in Crimea] are far from the Arctic,” Sigmundur said. “Clearly, it has made many players in the Arctic quite worried about developments and whether they might be a sign of what is to come.”
Former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton expressed similar concerns last week.
As Iceland places
more emphasis on Arctic development by way of Arctic sea lanes and possible offshore oil exploration, the Arctic Council will become more
and more integral as a means of brokering and negotiating agreements
with other Arctic states.
“It makes other governments more worried about what might happen in the future, so it creates a sense of insecurity and maybe lack of trust. If what we see in Ukraine turns out to be an exception, and Russia goes back to friendly relations with its neighbours, then it shouldn’t have an effect. But if it is a sign of what is to come, it is quite worrying,” said Sigmundur.
The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum for
cooperation and coordination between Arctic States. Members include Canada, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States of America.