The Prime Minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin, invited Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, President of Iceland, to a conference on Arctic shipping and other affairs of the high north. The conference started yesterday and is mainly about the new opportunities and responsibilities that will come with melting sea ice.
The conference is in Arkangelsk in Russia and as part of his visit, President Grimsson had a meeting yesterday afternoon with Prime Minister Putin. In the morning both had given speeches to conference delegates.
At the afternoon meeting Putin re-iterated Russia’s interest in increasing co-operation with Iceland in many areas, Visir.is reported. The slow opening of Arctic shipping routes is one area which calls for extensive co-operation and good Russia-Iceland relations will prove important to shippers. Strong international rules on safety and environmental protection will prove important and discussion has already begun about which ports will play important new roles.
In the meeting the two leaders also discussed Russia’s interest in geothermal energy co-operation, as well as the opportunities in the field for both countries elsewhere in the world. Russia’s energy minister, who was also present at the meeting, visited Iceland earlier in the year following another meeting between Grimsson and Putin in September 2010. His meetings at the time with energy companies, ministers and scientists have led to increasing Russian enthusiasm for geothermal energy projects in the Kamchatka region.
Both nations’ stakes in fisheries and sustainable use of ocean resources also came up for discussion — as did cultural matters.
Next year marks the 70th anniversary of formal diplomatic ties between Russia (then the USSR) and Iceland and the two leaders declared their interest in supporting cultural events in celebration. Vladimir Putin is apparently particularly enthusiastic to introduce Russians to the work of Icelandic painter Johannes Kjarval.