Vladimir Putin’s speech at the ‘Arctic: Territory of Dialogue’ International Arctic Forum
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen!
Dear Mr. Niinisto and Mr. Johannesson!
Allow me to cordially welcome all of you to Russia, to Arkhangelsk.
This marks the second time that the capital of the Russian North has hosted the ‘Arctic: Territory of Dialogue’ Forum. And this is symbolic. Arkhangelsk is historically connected with landmark events and names that have revealed the roads of icy latitudes to the world.
One of the ‘polar’ anniversaries is being celebrated this year too. I am referring to the 85th anniversary of Otto Schmidt’s famous expedition, which was the first to travel from the port of Arkhangelsk to the Pacific Ocean in one trip and marked the start of regular navigation along the shores of Siberia – the legendary Northern Sea Route.
Nowadays, the importance of the Arctic has increased many times over. It is becoming a place of focused attention from countries and peoples as a region on whose climate the well-being of the planet largely depends, as a treasure trove of a unique nature, and, of course, as a territory with enormous economic opportunities and huge economic potential.
It is essential for the Artic to remain a space of constructive dialogue, creation, and equal interaction. Our forum, which this year is devoted to such a significant theme as ‘People and the Arctic’, is also destined to play a significant role in meeting this objective.
By bringing together respected scientists, businessmen, and politicians, this Forum has become a platform for a serious professional conversation about the present and the future of the Arctic. This is precisely what we are counting on. It’s a forum to search for an Arctic partnership and its forms. Your expert assessments and initiatives are important for the Arctic Council, which for 20 years now has served as an example of effective international cooperation that is not subject to external conjuncture.
Russia, which makes up almost a third of the Arctic zone, is aware of its special responsibility for this territory. Our goal is to ensure the sustainable development of the Arctic, and this involves creating modern infrastructure, exploring for resources, developing an industrial base, improving the quality of life of the indigenous peoples of the North, and preserving their distinctive culture and traditions with a caring attitude from the government.
However, these goals cannot be considered in isolation from issues related to the conservation of biodiversity and fragile Arctic ecosystems. It is comforting that the protection of the natural polar environment is one of the key priorities of international cooperation in this region as well as scientific cooperation. Here we need to remember another important date in the Arctic’s history – the 80th anniversary of the Soviet drifting station ‘North Pole’. Continuing its tradition, the Russian ice base ‘Barneo’ has become a common home for researchers from around the world.
Cooperation among scientists and the broad exchange of experience and programmes are particularly important given the scale of the development plans for this territory, including within the framework of large international projects. Of course, one of the recent positive examples is the Yamal LNG project in which seven countries are involved in one way or another.
Russia proceeds from the premise that there is no potential for conflicts in the Arctic region. International norms clearly define the rights of both coastal and other states and serve as a solid basis for joint work in solving any problems, including such sensitive ones as the delineation of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean and preventing unregulated fishing in the central part of the sea, which is closed off from the exclusive economic zones of the United States, Canada, Denmark, Norway, and Russia.
I stress that Russia is open to constructive cooperation and is creating all the conditions for its effective development. We have a very extensive economic programme for the Arctic that is calculated for many, many years to come. It already includes over 150 projects with estimated investment of trillions of roubles. Above all else, we will support initiatives that have a multiplier effect for the Arctic regions and for our country as a whole, including through public private partnership mechanisms and the creation of so-called development support zones, which we regard not only as territories but primarily as a list of coordinated, mutually complementary projects, as well as instruments of state support. These and many other measures will be included in the new version of the state programme for the development of Russia’s Arctic zone. In particular, we are talking about the formation of a block of modern scientific and technological solutions that are needed in the difficult conditions of this region, improvements in the environmental monitoring system, and the development of offshore deposits. We devote special attention to the Northern Sea Route, which I just spoke about at the start of my address.
Changes in the ice conditions and the emergence of new, modern ships make the Northern Sea Route almost a year-round artery. At least I am certain this will happen in the near future in an effective and reliable manner that has great potential for the Russian and global economy. I have already instructed the Government to work on issues related to the establishment of a separate structure responsible for the integrated development of the Northern Sea Route and adjacent supporting areas, including infrastructure, hydrography, security, management, and all the necessary services.
We invite our foreign colleagues to make active use of the opportunities presented by the Northern Sea Route, which will reduce the cost and time of delivering goods between Europe and Asia. We also understand that in order to ensure that this corridor is competitive, universal, and desired for the transportation of all types of goods – from raw materials to containers – we must create the most favourable conditions for transport companies that meet the most modern international standards in this area.
In conclusion, I would like to thank all the forum participants for their constructive discussion of the issues facing the Arctic and for their passionate attitude to its future.
Special thanks to my colleagues, the President of Finland and the President of Iceland, who found the time in their schedule to personally attend today’s events. Such broad and respected international representation is a good sign of the political will of Arctic and other states to preserve the Arctic as a territory of peace, stability, and mutually beneficial cooperation.
Thank you for your attention!