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Russia: Arctic dimension of the world
Material posted: Publication date: 02-02-2013

The development of the Russian Arctic until recently virtually remained outside the framework of European cooperation. Only in recent years finally comes to an understanding that the huge economic potential of this unique region can be used effectively only when its inclusion in international integration. Without attracting foreign expertise and promoting other countries cannot effectively address both economic and environmental, social, humanitarian and other problems of domestic North.

In Soviet times, the Arctic regions of the Russian Federation were completely closed to the outside world. Radical changes in Russia, changes that have occurred over the last decade in the relations between East and West, has created a favourable environment for dissemination and international cooperation on the Arctic, and its role in European and global scale, it is difficult to overestimate.

We must pay tribute to the efforts of Finland, thanks to which in many respects became possible this turn. On the initiative of its leadership ten years ago has developed a "strategy for the protection of the Arctic environment" (AEPS) and started the famous "Rovaniemi process", which was signed and our country, and then becoming a member of the Arctic Council. By the way, when in the last years of the USSR discussed the possibility of participation in this project, in Moscow there was a lot of doubters, and direct opponents, who cited the danger of "internationalization" of the important military-strategic point of view in the Arctic. By the way, this syndrome has not completely disappeared today.

 

SEVMORPUT – THE LEGEND OF THE ARCTIC IS THE PRIDE OF THE FATHERLAND!

Anyway, the first step was taken. However, despite this, Arctic issues for a long time kept himself on the periphery of European cooperation. The turn of the European Union to the North is happening slowly so far. This clearly confirmed the development and further development of the concept "Northern dimension". Prime Minister of Finland Paavo Lipponen in February 1999, was rightly criticized by his colleagues for the important issue of the development of a common EU policy towards the Arctic region still remains open, and prepared by the European Commission a report on Northern dimension does not give an answer. Approved in the same year at the EU summit in Cologne document, the Arctic Council only mentioned in the number of tools that could facilitate the implementation of this concept. However, some positive development has been somewhat later, at the meeting of foreign Ministers of EU countries and partner States, held in Helsinki. It was then that the Arctic theme is sounded more distinctly and clearly. The Prime Minister of Greenland Jonathan, Motzfeldt then put forward the initiative of establishing the "Arctic window" in the Northern dimension policy of the EU, which met a generally positive response. In the statement of the President of the conference identified three important areas of cooperation in the region: environmental protection, sustainable development and Arctic research. But any concretization of these proposals have not received neither in the plan of action for the years 2000-2003 approved at the EU summit in Feira (Portugal), or in subsequent documents of the European Union. Issues of the Arctic cooperation, not to mention any specific projects, were ignored and the second conference on Northern dimension in Luxembourg in April of this year, and at the summit in Gothenburg. The European Union still shows no particular desire to extend its activities in the field of environmental protection, investment and other components of the Northern dimension in Eastern Arctic regions of Russia. The Prime Minister of Sweden göran Persson, who in the first half of this year was chaired by the EU, in fact, confirmed this, saying: "Russia is so big country that we should focus our resources and opportunities in those areas of Russia which is geographically closer to us and with whom we are more familiar".

This approach seems short-sighted and unpromising. Russian Arctic – it takes two-thirds of the Arctic region is a broad and complex concept. Its capabilities, potential, problems cannot be broken into separate parts. About the global significance of the resources of the Russian North speak, for example, the following figures: here are concentrated 42% of total reserves natural gas (for example, every third cubic meter of gas produced in the world comes from the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous district), 13% oil, 40-50% of Nickel, platinum metals, palladium. About half of the Northern forests of the planet falls on these areas. Of particular importance, the Arctic is for Russia. From the prudent and skillful use of its resources will largely depend on the rise and further strengthening of our economy, and hence improving the life of Russians. After all, in the North of Russia harvested 90% gas and 60% oil that covers 70 to 90% of the country's needs. Here is produced one out of every five kilowatt-hour of electricity. Two-thirds of foreign exchange revenues of the Russian Federation and about a fifth of the national income is provided by its Northern territories. Unique opportunities lie in the international commercial use of Northern sea way. Now he again began to pay serious attention. Plans for the construction of icebreakers, including nuclear, specialised cargo ships, modernization of existing and creation of new ports, terminals, development of support systems for navigation. According to preliminary estimates, transportation through the Northern sea route could be by 2005 4 million tons by 2010 and 12 million tons, and by 2020 – 50 million tons, including exports to Europe of oil and gas of Timano-Pechersky region, basins of the Ob and Yenisei rivers, from the Yamal Peninsula. Of course, this will require active participation and Federal authorities, and regions. And, of course, of major companies, including foreign – of course, if this Northern route will be used, while maintaining full jurisdiction of the Russian Federation.

Useful experience is gradually accumulated. For example, in the late 90-ies as a result of cooperation between Finnish shipbuilders and the Murmansk shipping company was an experimental vessel for operations in the far North – tanker with ice-breaking equipment, which has passed successful tests in the upper reaches of our Northern rivers. And together you can build atomic icebreakers (as in Finnish shipyards was built icebreaker, which established a Soviet nuclear reactor), although we are able to do them, and yourself at the shipbuilding plants "defense" in Severodvinsk. International experts estimate that the potential annual volume of transit traffic through the Northern sea route between the ports of Europe and the Asia-Pacific region could reach by 2020 to 5 million tons in the Eastern direction and up to 3 million tons – in the West. No accident great interest in the Russian Arctic show countries such as the United States. Canada, Japan. The development of the riches of the Russian North is not possible without further expansion of rail transport network. And something in this area already being done. Today, for example, built the 500-mile sub-Arctic railroad from Obskaya station (Komi Republic) on the Yamal Peninsula. Of particular importance – as the Nordic, the continental, is laying railway Arkhangelsk – Syktyvkar – Perm. This project will provide a substantial reduction paths from the Urals and Siberia to Arkhangelsk and Murmansk, and with the end of the road Ledmozero-Kochkoma (Republic of Karelia) – Finland and through its ports on the Baltic, and then – to Europe. Moreover, via the TRANS-Siberian railway and Baikal-Amur in the Russian North will be associated with countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

In General, the "Arctic dimension" has become one of the priority components of domestic and foreign policy of Russia. And our Northern regions, and Federal authorities for that. But we need coordination between the centre and the CE-loyal subjects of the Russian Federation, understanding of the needs and problems of the North. But this is just not. Still not developed a Federal targeted programme development of the Russian North, and Goskomsever in General there was no place in the structure of the current government. One of the main problems of international cooperation in the Arctic – financing. Putting forward the idea of the Northern dimension, the European Union has from the outset expressly to any additional funds from its budget to allocate anything. Speech can go only about redistribution and more effective use of resources. Pay for various programs and projects of private investors and international financial institutions. And the States parties must create favourable and preferential conditions for investors.

 

ONLY LOVERS IN THE NORTH SUBMITS TO THE ARCTIC!

It seems appropriate to think about geographical expansion of existing financial institutions of the European Union. To develop such an integrated project for the North, including the Northern multi-purpose transportation corridor, oil and gas pipelines, the construction of ports for the exploitation of the deposits in the Timan-Pechora oil and gas province and other natural resources, the use of the Northern sea route.

It is also important to enhance the role of such a body as the Arctic Council, to interact more with European Union and other organizations involved in the implementation of the concept "Northern dimension". Until recently, this organization was established in 1996 as a regional intergovernmental "high-level forum" with the participation of Denmark, Iceland, Canada, Norway, Russia, USA, Finland and Sweden, is practically involved in the strategic development of the European North, focusing on the issues of environmental protection. The challenge now is to attract international attention to Arctic Affairs, to broaden the scope of its activities. Our country must become an equal partner of the EU in matters of "Northern dimension" and find its "niche". So far, the contribution of the Russian side was carried out, so to speak, "in kind contribution", research materials, research materials, organizational assistance. The main burden of financing the various programmes are the Nordic countries, USA and Canada. Given the particular importance of the Arctic, now it is time to think about how to invest their own money in the projects of the Arctic Council. They could be found in Federal and regional budgets, attract Russian companies interested in the Arctic development.

In any case, the participation of Russia in international cooperation in the development of the Arctic should be more active and effective. We are not interested in lesser, but to an even greater extent than other countries of the European North.

 

Yuri ANDREEV

Source: http://senat.org/Finland/NovaFIN-3.html


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