Arctic discussion in the European Parliament

At a seminar in the European Parliament, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre stressed the need to focus on implementation of existing legal framework for the Arctic, rather than calling for a new legal regime.

13/05/2008 :: Diana Wallis MEP, Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and Bilyana Ilieva Raeva MEP at the seminar in the European Parliament. Photo: Rune Bjåstad.

The Norwegian Government maintains that we need an Arctic legal order and Arctic policies, because we will not be able to address future challenges without a rule-based response and without concerted, effective action that builds on the best available scientific data and a responsible and precautionary approach.

At a seminar organised by the ALDE-group in the European Parliament 7 May Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre stressed that there is no lack of an adequate legal order for the Arctic Ocean.

– We have the overall framework – what I would call the rules of the game. In short: we are talking about the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This is the comprehensive multilateral regime that applies in the Arctic.

We must remember that the Arctic is not the Antarctic. The Arctic is an ocean covered with ice. In the 1890s the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen attempted to reach the North Pole by letting his ship Fram freeze into the drifting Arctic ice cover. Now this ice is rapidly melting, opening new potential sea routes, Mr Støre said. 

The Foreign Minister’s speech was based on the following speaking points.

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Mr Støre handed over a symbolic gift to the organisers – a glass polar bear.Photo: Rune Bjåstad