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NEWS: Around the Arctic May 11, 2017 - 4:54 pm

Finland urges focus on cooperation, climate change at Arctic Council

"Now is the time to think what kind of Arctic do we want in the future"

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Chrystia Freeland, Canada's foreign minister (middle), stands May 11 under the emblem of the Arctic Council ministerial meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska, with the Indigenous permanent participant organization leaders from Canada, including Okalik Eegeesiak of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, second from left and Bill Erasmus of the Arctic Athabaskan Council (far right.)
Chrystia Freeland, Canada's foreign minister (middle), stands May 11 under the emblem of the Arctic Council ministerial meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska, with the Indigenous permanent participant organization leaders from Canada, including Okalik Eegeesiak of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, second from left and Bill Erasmus of the Arctic Athabaskan Council (far right.) "Together, the Arctic Council is working to support strong communities, including advancing Indigenous rights and resilience to climate change," Freeland said after the meeting. (PHOTO GOVERNMENT OF CANADA)

(Updated, May 12, 7 a.m.)

The Arctic Council’s member states will work together on Arctic issues—including climate change—delegates insisted at the eight-nation Arctic Council ministerial gathering May 11 in Fairbanks, Alaska.

That’s amidst fears that United States President Donald Trump will soon pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“The United States will continue to be an active member of this council,” said U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the ex-oil magnate appointed by Trump this past fall, who opened the ministerial meeting—and signed the Arctic Council’s Fairbanks Declaration which mentions “the need for global action to reduce both long-lived greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants.”

Timo Soini, the foreign minister of Finland—the country which will chair the Arctic Council for the next two years—urged the eight member nations of the council to ensure it remains a forum for cooperation and that they “all work to keep the Arctic free of tensions.”

“Everyone recognizes global warming is the main engine of change in the Arctic,” said Soini, who called the Paris Agreement the “cornerstone of international efforts to combat climate change.”

On climate change, Tillerson said the Trump administration is not yet ready to reveal its long-term policy, but he said it will put U.S. interests ahead of all others.

“We’re not going to rush to a decision. We are going to work to make a decision that is the right decision for the United States,” Tillerson said.

But Soini proposed that Finland could even hold an Arctic summit during its chairmanship, if participants could agree on an agenda “that is appropriate.”

“Now is the time to think what kind of Arctic do we want in the future,” he said. “We should make sure that all human activity is sustainable. Increasing opportunities should benefit the people who already live in the Arctic region, and certainly also the indigenous communities.”

For Finland, this involves a focus on connectivity or telecommunications—which Soini called “a lifeline for all human activities”—as well as education, and environmental protection.

Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, began her remarks in Russian, transitioned into English and ended her speech in French.

“On certain issues we have different points of view,” Freeland, a fierce critic of Russia’s actions in Ukraine and Crimea, said in Russian, while looking directly at the Russian delegation.

Freeland also said Indigenous peoples will continue to be a priority for Canada, and she praised a fur collar that Okalik Eegeesiak, the international chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, wore with her dress.

The important role that the Indigenous peoples of the Arctic play within the council, through the six permanent participant organizations, was underscored at the ministerial by a performance from a group of Athabascan drummers, led by Trimble Gilbert, an elder from the tiny Yukon River community of Arctic Village.

“We are here to say something about ourselves,” Gilbert said, reminding his audience that his people have lived within the state that is now called Alaska for thousands of years.

The role of Arctic Indigenous peoples was also reaffirmed in the Fairbanks Declaration, signed at the ministerial, which reaffirmed “the rights of Arctic indigenous peoples and the unique role of the Permanent Participants within the Arctic Council, as well as the commitment to consult and cooperate in good faith with Arctic Indigenous peoples and to support their meaningful engagement in Arctic Council activities.”

In her short speech to the council, Eegeesiak said Finland could count on ICC “to support your chairmanship program” with its focus on connectivity and the Paris Agreement.

To the Arctic Council, her message was “let’s have the courage to make it even better.”

On this, Eegeesiak suggested that the Arctic Council’s programs should integrate more traditional knowledge into its science programs from the beginning.

In Fairbanks, the Arctic Council foreign ministers signed a binding agreement on Arctic scientific cooperation, the third legally-binding agreement in the Arctic Council’s 20-year history, joining the 2011 agreement on search and rescue and the 2011 agreement on cooperation on marine oil pollution preparedness and response in the Arctic.

At the end of the ministerial meeting, acting on behalf of the U.S. which has chaired the Arctic Council since 2015 in Iqaluit, Tillerson handed the Council’s symbolic birch wood gavel to Soini.

Finland will hold the organization’s chairmanship until 2017.

with files from Jim Bell and Jane George

  Fairbanks Declaration 2017 by NunatsiaqNews on Scribd

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hands the gavel of the Arctic Council to Finland's foreign minister Timo Soini, marking the transfer of the chairmanship of the Arctic Council to Finland until 2019. (PHOTO/US ARCTIC COUNCIL)
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hands the gavel of the Arctic Council to Finland's foreign minister Timo Soini, marking the transfer of the chairmanship of the Arctic Council to Finland until 2019. (PHOTO/US ARCTIC COUNCIL)
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(2) Comments:

#1. Posted by Psychological repression on May 15, 2017

Why does Canada use Arctic Council as their warmongering propaganda microphone? Isn’t AC about cooperation and peace among our Arctic neighbors? Not setting the stage for regime change and stealing oil/minerals via the war profiting machine.

Russia delegates showed refined class when Canada’s Foreign Minister spoke directly to them in Russia.  Russia could easily spoke back in English. Asking Canada for transparency about the Biological and Chemical Weapons labs, under the cover of medical research facilities in Ukraine. 

Under new leadership will Norway and Finland start asking and demanding answers about bio weapons repositories and biological/chemical labs being put in their own countries close to Russia’s boarder?

It is concerning ICC hasn’t said anything. Though not surprising when ICC goes along with Canada, without questioning their climate warming myth. Man made carbon as the devilish propaganda tool for massive tax grab and psychological repression of arctic people.

#2. Posted by Blanca on May 21, 2017

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