Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store opened last week’s international conference on managing the Arctic with a plea to co-operate peacefully as the five nations that border the Arctic begin to vie for the lucrative resources that lie under the seabed. Using the catchphrase “High North, low tension”, Store was optimistic at the summit in the northern Norwegian town of Tromso.
The main focus of this year’s Arctic summit was the rapid melting of the Arctic’s ice. The AFP reports that the Arctic region holds up to 30 percent of the planet’s undiscovered natural gas reserves and perhaps 13 percent of undiscovered oil reserves. These resources will finally become accessible as the Arctic ice cap melts away.
The race to claim these potential riches has been accompanied by a similar increase in military activity in the region. NATO plans to play a bigger role in the region, and Russia has been increasingly vocal about its rights to deploy military units in the Arctic.
Store told reporters: “We will as responsible governments and coastal states be able to manage the challenges and opportunities of this region without gliding into conflict and negative competition. We have every opportunity to prove wrong those who say that this is bound to be a regional conflict of competing interests. It need not be that way; we can do that very differently.”