During our childhood Arctic cooperation was just starting, and since then it has gradually and successfully been developing. Unlike our parents we didn’t experience closed borders; quite many of us who live in the Northwest Russia studied in Norwegian, Finnish and Swedish universities in the Barents region and have good friends there.
Twenty years of international cooperation in the Arctic has ensured not only good people-to-people contacts but also effective intergovernmental interaction. Joint efforts of the Arctic states contribute to advanced research and practical solutions in the fields of environmental protection, search and rescue, infrastructure development and maintaining cultural diversity.
Two or three years ago it was hardly possible to imagine that the current state of international relations would be characterized by such serious conflicts, tensions and disturbances on global level. Nowadays it is a reality in world politics. Fortunately the Arctic is still one of the cooperation arenas between Russia, European countries, the US and Canada. I believe it is a mission of great significance, not only for politics but also for northerners in general, to sustain peaceful relations between countries, regions and people. In my view it is important that existing collaboration within the Arctic Council, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, the University of the Arctic, the Northern Forum, the Northern Dimension, the International Arctic Science Committee and other forms of cooperation will be supported and developed. It is also important to make sure that these organizations are represented by all the countries and stakeholders in order to be able to listen and understand each other.
As an inhabitant of the North I see that the Arctic continues to be model region of international cooperation in the future. Time has shown that prohibitions and sanctions from both sides is totally unproductive and inefficient. Our countries have more common interests than conflicts of interests. Arctic cooperation has been proving this for twenty years, and hopefully the next generations of northerners will also live in a peaceful and developing region.
Originally published in UArctic Shared Voices Magazine 2016 Special Issue: Arctic Council at 20