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Ladies and gentlemen
For Germans, the Northern Areas are
by no means terra incognita. In 1671, the German physician
Friderich Martens travelled to Svalbard and became a pioneer in the
study of Arctic nature, wildlife and climate. His book,
Spitzbergische oder Grönländische Reise Beschreibung,
became a classic in the literature on Svalbard. Carl Koldewey was
the leader of the first German North Pole Expedition, which
explored the waters off Spitzbergen as far back as 1868. Since then
many have followed in their footsteps – or rather: their sailing
routes and ski tracks. Thousands of German tourists have today
experienced the uniqueness of the archipelago.
In August 1991, the Alfred Wegener
Institute opened its new Koldewey research station in Svalbard’s
Ny-Ålesund, at 79 degrees North. It offers research facilities for
scientists in the fields of biology, chemistry, geophysics and
atmospheric physics. Svalbard is very well placed for Arctic
research. It is accessible and the climate is relatively mild.
The Norwegian Government has
therefore committed itself to further developing Svalbard as a
platform for international research co-operation. Currently
scientists from about 20 countries are doing research there.
Svalbard has a unique environment.
Its 61 000 square kilometres – about twice the size of Belgium –
are a considerable part of the last remaining wilderness in
The Norwegian Government’s aim is
to ensure that future generations will have the same opportunities
to enjoy this unspoilt wilderness as we have.
Against this background, ladies and
gentlemen, I would like to share with you some observations on the
challenges we are facing in this part of the world, which we call
‘the northern areas’, that is the Arctic, including the Barents
region and the Barents Sea. I will also discuss with you some views
on security and transatlantic policy issues – although briefly.
The northern areas [ - see map
behind me - ] are now among the most peaceful corners of Europe, as
I mentioned earlier. East-West confrontation has been replaced by
co-operation and a common concern about other serious challenges we
are faced with in the Arctic. One of these is how to utilise the
rich resources and huge human and economic potential without
damaging fragile habitats. Meeting these challenges in the modern
world requires partnership and international co-operation.
The strategic importance of the
area is no longer primarily military. It is instead related to the
vast supply of renewable marine and non-renewable fossil energy
resources. It is estimated to contain a quarter of the world’s
undiscovered petroleum resources, and naturally has the potential
to become an important source of energy, not least for Europe.
Norway’s policy on the northern
areas therefore has a bearing on our policy towards Europe and
European countries. In this regard, we wish to further develop our
bilateral contacts with the major European countries on issues
relating to the northern areas.
An important tool in this respect
is regular bilateral consultations on these issues. Norway and
Germany have already started up such consultations, reflecting
Germany’s response to the issues at hand. I believe that we have
many interests in common, and that we both will benefit from this
dialogue that will broaden our knowledge of each other’s interests
and positions. Later, we hope to establish similar contacts with
the UK and France.
Needless to say, developing our
co-operation with Russia in the north is no less important, and we
are actively pursuing this bilaterally and within the framework of
Norway and Russia share a 196
kilometre-long border, which was closed for many decades. It was
one of the two national borders where NATO and Soviet forces
directly faced each other. Today, on the other hand, there are more
than 100 000 border crossings a year. During the last 10 years we
have witnessed the development of a remarkably dynamic network
across the border, between local authorities, business enterprises,
schools and NGOs. These are grassroots contacts on a
Today’s flourishing contact between
Norway and Russia in the north is remarkable compared with the
Soviet era, although in fact it is similar to the situation before
the Russian revolution in 1917.
Our bilateral relations with the
Russian government have also greatly improved. It is my impression
that it is a genuine wish on the Russian side to develop further
our co-operation. This is illustrated by the fact that, on his
first official bilateral visit in June this year, Foreign Minister
Lavrov chose to come to Norway with a forward-looking agenda.
However, we are also reminded from
time to time of views left over from the old days, and of the fact
that the old Soviet rhetoric is not yet entirely forgotten. Our
relations with Russia today can best be described as “two or three
steps forward – one step back”.
Recent developments in Russia give
cause for concern. Democratic and market reforms are under
considerable pressure. The signs of growing pluralism that were
seen a few years ago, have been replaced by signs of
centralisation. The trend towards growing media diversity has been
reversed and state control has increased. The situation in the
Chechen Republic continues to be very bleak. Human rights are being
violated daily by both federal forces and Chechen rebels. The
humanitarian situation in the republic is appalling, and the
conflict is producing extremism and terrorism.
As friends of Russia, we must speak
our mind on Chechnya. We must speak our mind on the situation of
the media in Russia, on repression and on infringements of civil
liberties. Norway is speaking its mind. Our friendly relations with
Russia allow constructive criticism to be made. We do not turn our
back on Russia even when developments take a wrong turn.
Notwithstanding these disturbing
trends, let us not forget the remarkable results of the reform
process in the Russian Federation. Today, Russia is the fastest
growing economy in the world, the Russian people enjoy freedom to
an extent unprecedented in their history, foreigners can travel and
trade in Russia, and the country is our partner in several
international and regional fora.
- So the picture is not only black
and white. There are opposing trends in Russian society; on the one
hand democratisation and pluralism, on the other centralisation of
power and control. The Russian leadership is caught between these
trends. Our role is to support the developments that we believe to
Ladies and gentlemen,
Developing co-operation and
contacts across the borders in the north has been greatly helped by
the regional co-operation structures in northern Europe, primarily
the Barents Euro-Arctic Council. The Council consists of Russia,
the five Nordic countries and the European Commission, and Germany
is one of nine observer countries.
The Barents co-operation has now
entered its second decade and is agreed to be a success. I believe
there are two reasons for this. First, history has shown that close
co-operation between the peoples of the North is natural – and
necessary. Life would be poorer - and the economy weaker without
The second reason is that the
regional level of co-operation has been given a distinct role. The
local authorities of 13 counties in Norway, Sweden, Finland and
Russia are represented in the Barents Regional Council, and have
launched and implemented a large number of projects and initiatives
over the years. Representatives of the indigenous peoples in the
region also play an active role in the Council’s work.
Norway currently holds the
chairmanship of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council. We are focusing on
economic co-operation issues, education, justice and home affairs,
search and rescue co-operation, and health. These are the areas
with the most pressing problems – and the most promising
Norway is also a committed partner
in the Arctic Council. The Council brings together all the Arctic
nations – the Nordic countries, Russia, Canada and the United
States. This has made it an efficient tool for placing circumpolar
issues high on the political agenda, both in our countries and in
international fora. The Council also plays an important role in
bringing climate change to the attention of governments.
One of the Arctic Council’s
strengths is that it has fully integrated the indigenous peoples of
the region. This is of great benefit to the participating
governments and, I believe, also to the indigenous peoples
The European Union plays an
important role in Arctic affairs, both as an active participant in
the councils in the region and through the Northern Dimension.
Norway has taken an active part in the development of the Northern
Dimension Action Plans. Although it has been claimed that the
Northern Dimension should provide more resources to projects and
initiatives, I view it as an important instrument in our efforts to
further develop co-operation in these regions.
We have actively advocated further
development of NATO’s relations with Russia. Strengthened
co-operation in the northern areas between Russia and its Western
partners, and between Russia and NATO, is crucial.
Only through trust and close
co-operation with Russia can we get to grips with the challenges.
As one of Russia’s neighbours, Norway considers the NATO-Russia
Council to be of fundamental importance in this connection.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today’s security policy reality is
many-faceted. It is complex and changes rapidly. The threats we are
facing are manifold. The challenges are new. Indeed, the security
concept itself contains new dimensions – and it contains tragic
dimensions. Today, threats against people – and indeed against
states – take the shape of commuter trains carrying people to their
death in Madrid, of children and teachers being killed on the first
day of school in Beslan, of businessmen and women plummeting to
their death in New York.
No democratic nation can evade its
responsibility to help combat terror. And our message must be
crystal clear: No goal can justify the use of terror. No cause can
justify the loss of innocent lives. Terror must never prevail.
There is, however, no single recipe
for combating terror. Terrorism is a global threat. Thus, only
through resolute, concerted, co-ordinated international efforts can
the fight against these very serious security challenges succeed.
And we must employ a broad range of means. Humanitarian,
diplomatic, political and military measures are all necessary.
Terrorism must be combated within
the boundaries of international law. The fight against
international terrorism must have the highest priority in the UN,
in NATO, and in the European security policy co-operation. We must
be fully aware of the challenges we are facing.
I have been of the opinion, and I
still am, that Europe’s security is best safeguarded by close
co-operation with the US. Less than two weeks now remain until the
US presidential elections. The fundamental shared values and the
broad co-operation we have enjoyed with the US through the entire
post-war period are the basis of our close transatlantic ties. This
is something we will continue to build on, no matter which
administration is elected.
In Europe, a common foreign and
security policy is taking shape. The new EU Constitutional Treaty
is an indicator of the EU’s growing ambitions for close
co-operation in this field. In my view, it is positive that the EU
wishes to take greater responsibility for Europe’s security. We
must not pit the EU against NATO unnecessarily. I believe there is
scope both for a strong NATO and for more active European
co-operation on foreign and security policy.
From Norway’s point of view the
enlargements of both NATO and the EU are very welcome. But for
Norway as a non-EU-member, it is vital to establish the following:
NATO must remain the principal organisation for security
co-operation between the USA and Europe.
Building up parallel structures and
military capacities must be avoided as far as possible. There must
also be complete openness and dialogue about the processes that are
under way in the EU. The EU and NATO must never start competing
with each other. Across the Atlantic there has been broad
understanding of the need for, and significance of, close
co-operation between NATO and the EU.
Close transatlantic ties are
crucial if we are to be able to effectively address the security
policy challenges we are facing. This applies not least to the
threats of international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons
of mass destruction. [During the question time after my speech I
may come back to these security policy issues, since I now will
revert to the specific northern areas themes].
In the north, an immediate
challenge pertaining both to non-proliferation and environmental
concerns is the management of the large amounts of nuclear material
in the Russian part of the Barents Region. The Kola Peninsula has
the world’s largest concentration of nuclear installations. Not
only do these represent a threat to the vulnerable environment of
the High North, but there is also a real danger that nuclear
material from these installations could fall into the hands of
11 September made us realise that
terrorists would not hesitate to use weapons and materials of mass
destruction. Nuclear safety and security must therefore be an
integral part of our common efforts to counter the new security
There are good reasons why nuclear
safety has been at the centre of Norwegian-Russian co-operation for
the last 10 years.
In the Kola Peninsula there is an
old nuclear power station; more than 50 nuclear submarines waiting
to be dismantled; service ships with large quantities of spent
nuclear fuel on board - some of it damaged and therefore difficult
to handle; a run-down storage site with fuel from 100 reactors; and
tons of solid and liquid nuclear waste.
In addition to all this, there are
numerous lighthouses scattered along the northwestern Russian coast
and powered by highly radioactive strontium batteries. Experts have
pointed out that these batteries are suitable for making “dirty
bombs”. During the past few years there have been thefts from such
installations, although fortunately the thieves were not after the
batteries but the precious metals protecting them.
The nuclear task facing us is
therefore enormous – and it is urgent. Small countries can offer
important contributions. Norway has taken a lead in assisting
Russia with the safe removal of these radioactive batteries.
Several countries – European as well as North American – have
expressed a strong interest in this project. To promote
co-operation and co-ordination Norway will host an expert seminar
on this topic under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy
Agency early next year.
Last year Norway signed contracts
on the dismantlement of two non-strategic nuclear submarines from
Russia’s Northern Fleet, the first country to engage in the
dismantlement of this type of submarine. In June this year we
informed the Russians that - since our experience of this submarine
project was so favourable - we were ready to undertake more of the
The Russians should also be
commended on the job they are doing themselves. They understand
very well that the ultimate responsibility for the situation – and
for the cleanup – is theirs. And they are allocating huge resources
to this task from their own budgets. But they still need our
assistance. Thus, solving the problem requires broad and concerted
international action. Action we are now about to take.
The lesson of September 11 has
prompted the G8 countries to launch their Global Partnership
against weapons and materials of mass destruction. Huge resources –
20 billion US dollars – will be made available for projects in the
former Soviet Union.
The EU Northern Dimension
Environmental Partnership has also mobilised substantial economic
resources, and a number of countries are now actively involved in
nuclear safety and security efforts in Russia on a bilateral basis.
Germany is very active in this field.
This is a new and promising
situation. But with more countries engaged and substantial
resources being made available for concrete action, we need to be
well co-ordinated. We must avoid bottlenecks and duplication of
effort. Our contributions must be channelled to those projects that
give the best value for money, and thorough environmental and risk
assessments must be made for all projects.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Science has documented that the
signs of climate change are more pronounced in the Arctic than in
other regions of the world. Hence, global warming and climate
change is now the most pressing item on the Arctic environmental
The ice of the Arctic is melting.
Open sea has already been observed around the North Pole in the
summer. The melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet broke all records in
2002. Current estimates indicate that the ice sheet will have
disappeared by the end of this millennium.
The speed and consequences of this
climate change are not yet fully clear. But we must be prepared for
the fact that climate change and natural resource management in the
Arctic will have an increasing impact on the entire planet. It may
also have enormous economic consequences. Since Arctic pollution
originates to a large extent in areas south of the Arctic, measures
to protect its environment cannot be limited to the region. Hence,
we must study the problems and work out the solutions together.
At the ministerial meeting of the
Arctic Council in Alaska in 2000, the ministers commissioned a
four-year scientific assessment of climate change in the Arctic –
the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. A broad network of eminent
scientists has been working on this study, and the report will be
discussed at the Arctic Council ministerial meeting in Reykjavik in
November. This will provide us – the governments – with the
information we need to decide what concrete action to take.
At this point in time, 10 years
after the entry into force of the Climate Change Convention, there
has been some progress in international co-operation. In this
respect Norway welcomes the latest developments in Russia. These
are indeed positive. Yesterday, we all read the headlines in German
and international press on the vote in the Russian Duma on the
Kyoto Protocol. Russian ratification will cause the entry into
force of the Kyoto Protocol possibly some time in early 2005.
The Russian response to the
Protocol has taken a long time to be finalised, and their internal
process has not always been easy to understand from the outside. It
is clear, however, that economic arguments have played a central
part. As we all know, Russia’s commitment under the Protocol is so
modest that the country will have a significant amount of emission
reductions to put on the market. The major uncertainty will be the
price level such emission permits.
The world’s largest emitter of
greenhouse gases, the United States, is still outside the Protocol.
There is little prospect of the country changing its mind on Kyoto
in the near future, whatever the outcome of the presidential
election. The Senate has so far taken a negative view of the
Protocol. However, even in the US, climate change is slowly making
its way up the political agenda.
Some weeks ago, I had the pleasure
of hosting a visit by a delegation of US senators to Spitzbergen,
including John McCain and Hillary Clinton. They both stand for a
more progressive climate change policy. Along with his Democratic
colleague, Senator Lieberman, Senator McCain is the author of an
interesting proposal for legislation on climate change action.
Although it was rejected last year, it is still alive, and would -
if passed - entail a significant change in US climate policy. This
could be a significant step towards bringing the United States back
to a more globally oriented climate policy. There are also positive
developments at the state level and in parts of the private sector
in the United States. What we are seeing here is, in fact, a kind
of bottom-up push on climate change.
As I mentioned earlier, experts
estimate that about a quarter of the world’s undiscovered petroleum
resources are located in the Arctic. Large deposits have already
been discovered, especially in the Russian Arctic. Norway’s
petroleum activities are also moving north.
In our efforts to exploit petroleum
resources in the region, we must take care to safeguard the rich
and unpolluted nature of the Barents Sea. Our goal is to establish
a framework that makes it possible to balance the need to protect
the environment against commercial interests – fisheries,
aquaculture, shipping and the petroleum industry.
The growing demand for imported
energy from both the US and the EU will inevitably increase the
level of oil and gas exploration and production in the north.
Hence, more tankers will be sailing along the Norwegian coast on
their way to Europe and North America. Protecting the highly
vulnerable environment along the coast of northern Norway and in
the Barents Sea from oil tanker accidents will be an enormous
challenge in the coming years.
The first field in Norway’s part of
the Barents Sea is now being developed – the liquid natural gas
project called “Snøhvit”. This is the largest industrial project
that has ever been undertaken in our northernmost county of
Finmark. It will provide a major boost to employment and the
economy of the region. For Germany, as
the important buyer of Norwegian natural gas – as well as
other resources from Norway’s marine environment, this development
in the north is, of course, of great interest.
However, this positive development
is hampered by the fact that the delimitation line between Norway
and Russia in the Barents Sea is yet to be determined – after more
than 30 years of negotiations. As Norway and other North Sea states
have experienced, the clarity and predictability provided by
maritime boundaries is a precondition for investment and high-cost
exploration and exploitation. Banks, companies, governments and
others need to know which rules apply in matters such as licences,
workers’ safety, taxation and the environment.
Maritime boundaries are also an
essential basis for agreeing on how to divide fields, how to
co-operate on exploiting fields, and – no less importantly – how to
establish practical and efficient transport systems for oil and
The Arctic contains rich and
valuable natural resources. At the same time, it has one of the
most vulnerable environments in the world. Governance of the Arctic
has an impact on global environmental challenges, global resource
management and worldwide security, an impact that will only
increase with time.
What we do today in these
territories will affect them for years and years to come. The tasks
we face are immense, and so are the consequences if we fail to
carry them out. We all have an obligation to work together in order
to manage Arctic resources in a sustainable way that will benefit
present and future generations.
Arctic exploration in earlier times
was perhaps more competitive than co-operative. Today, co-operation
is the only answer to the challenges of the region. And it is also
the most fruitful means of taking advantage of its
Thank you for your