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Udenrigsministerens tale ved konferencen
The Arctic — Territory of Dialogue Forum i Arkhangelsk 29. marts 2017

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Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Here in Arkhangelsk we really see the new realities and potentials in the Arctic: the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route are opening up as prospective alternative transport corridors, considerably reducing the shipping distance from Northeast Asia to Europe. In this bustling port city you get a feel for the future perspectives with increased maritime traffic as the Northern Sea Routes are opening up. Thank you to our Russian hosts.

The Arctic region holds great potential. But also great challenges and risks.

Therefore our position remains that we must ensure economic development to benefit the Arctic people. But at the same time we must protect the fragile ecosystem in the Arctic. And do so in close cooperation with each other.

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Developing the Arctic is not a task limited to the Arctic States. The world – both in terms of states, companies and organisations - is invited to join in on opportunities and partnerships. And thereby contribute to sustainable and eco-friendly development, in full consultation with the local communities – and in a way that benefits the peoples of the Arctic. The Kingdom of Denmark supports efforts to promote investments and private business participation in the development of the region.

Infrastructure investments are crucial for a successful and sustainable economic development. Connectivity remains a key priority for us in our efforts to realise the region’s potential. And defeating distance digitally is the most promising, cost efficient and environmentally friendly way of doing so. The Kingdom of Denmark therefore greatly appreciates the continued focus by the Arctic states on digitalisation and connectivity.

For investments to succeed we need another framework condition: A region with low tension and a workable governance structure. The collaborative, peaceful and safe development of the Arctic is only possible if the region continues to be managed on the basis of international principles of law. And this we have achieved despite our differences elsewhere.

The Ilulissat Declaration is a landmark in this regard. Next year will mark the tenth anniversary of the declaration by which the five Arctic coastal states committed themselves to manage the Arctic responsibly and to solve possible disagreements through international law and by peaceful means.

Equally important is the Arctic Council, which throughout its more than 20 years of existence has manifested itself as the principal forum for cooperation in the Arctic. The legally binding Search and Rescue and the Oil Spill agreements are prominent examples of the Council’s importance and relevance as also a decision making forum.

Let me mention two more examples: the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Continental Shelf. Here there is a constructive bilateral dialogue between Kingdom of Denmark and Russia as well as other Arctic states. Because of the increased activity in the Arctic, all Arctic states are looking at the need to increase their capabilities. And yes, there are increases in military presence in the Arctic. The Kingdom of Denmark has also increased its presence, not least to assist in the wide array of civilian tasks in the region in terms of search and rescue and environmental surveillance. It is crucial that any build-up of military capabilities takes place in accordance with the broader agreement among the Arctic states. In other words: that issues are dealt with in a peaceful manner and within the framework of international law. All States should strive to avoid any action which can be seen as one of conflict and confrontation.

I think we have achieved this and we should continue to safeguard it. This important conference contributes to that – and the Kingdom of Denmark will continue to contribute to that. Much is at stake – security, economic development for the Arctic people, private sector participation and the delicate climate.

Thank you.