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Søvndal: An Arctic Council at its best

17.05.2013  15:47

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Villy Søvndal, participated in the Arctic Council’s ministerial meeting in Kiruna along with the Prime Minister for the Government of the Faroe Islands, Kaj Leo Holm Johannesen, 14 – 15 May 2013. The meeting marked the continued development of the Arctic Council as the primary international body for Arctic issues. During the meeting, the Member States signed the Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic - an agreement on enhanced cooperation on the management of oil spills in the Arctic. The Arctic Council also reached agreement to include a number of new countries as permanent observers.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Villy Søvndal signs oil spill agreement in the Arctic Council, 14 – 15 May 2013

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Villy Søvndal said:
“I think, that after this meeting we can proudly state that we have an Arctic Council at its best – an Arctic Council that delivers relevant and specific answers to the challenges that the Arctic region is facing. This applies especially to our decision to enhance our cooperation in order to avoid and reduce the effects of oil spills in the ecologically fragile Arctic waters. The agreement is the second legally binding agreement in two years between the Arctic countries.

Equally important, we also reached agreement on increasing the number of permanent observers. It was a difficult decision, but the right decision. It doesn’t question the Arctic countries specific role in handling the challenges of the region. But it shows that the Arctic Council is open to many countries outside the Arctic who have legitimate interests in the development of the region. We welcome the contribution of these countries which I am sure will strengthen our efforts. With this decision I am also convinced that we maintain the position of the Arctic Council as the most important international focal point regarding Arctic issues.

As is well-known, Greenland decided not to participate in the meeting. For Denmark, it is essential that all three parts of the Kingdom equally have the opportunity to contribute to the work in the Arctic Council. I have made that very clear to my colleagues in the Arctic Council and the incoming Canadian chairmanship and I hope that Greenland will soon again participate fully in the deliberations of the Arctic Council. We will work hard for this to happen."

Moreover, during the meeting the Arctic Council adopted a statement entitled ‘Vision for the Arctic’. In this statement, the objective of a peaceful development in the Arctic is emphasised, where consideration to the indigenous people in the Arctic is of primary importance.

In addition, a review of the work of the Arctic Council’s working groups was made and political recommendations concerning areas/topics such as strengthening the biodiversity, prevention against black carbon, and action against acidification of the oceans north of the Arctic Circle were agreed.
Canada presented the work programme of the Canadian Presidency which similar to the Arctic Strategy of the Kingdom of Denmark sets focus on the people living in the Arctic.

For further information contact:
Jean-Charles Ellermann-Kingombe, tlf.: +45 2526 7606