Welcome to Fairbanks: cooperation in the Arctic in deed and not in words


© Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

Fairbanks, founded by gold miners a small town in Alaska these days has become one of the centers of world politics, uniting on its platform representatives of States, often occupying opposite positions when communicating in other formats and organizations.

The Ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council has demonstrated that with all the contradictions on various international issues of the state are willing and able to show a real will to cooperate in strategic areas, including the Arctic occupies one of the first places.

Symbolic place

As told to Deborah Hickok, President of the Organization for the development of tourism in Fairbanks, the original place of meeting of the foreign Ministers of the Arctic Council was chosen as the larger city of anchorage. However, the public of Fairbanks has offered to hold a forum in this city, as it is the northernmost settlement of the United States with aircraft and railway communications. “We call our city the “gateway to the Arctic”, – said the Agency interlocutor.

The event of such a high level in Fairbanks organized for the first time, a Ministerial meeting was held in the local leisure centre, there are hockey games and music concerts. Speaking in detail about the preparations for the Ministerial meeting itself Hickok asked the TASS correspondent, whether all arranges journalists in organizing the event, explaining that it is important for citizens, who for the first time attended such a major international forum in the city.

And organized everything really was top notch. It was felt that the host tried very hard to please the guests. “Welcome,” greeted one of the organizers pool the Russian Minister in the Russian language.

Members of the delegation and the media was placed not in the center of the city, and the hotel is decorated in the style of a hunting Lodge on the banks of the river with a huge inscription: “Love Alaska”.

It is noteworthy that Fairbanks, where on Thursday sounded such a chorus of calls for international cooperation, is one of the symbols of his concrete manifestations in the past – in the face of the terrible enemy. It is through this city took the route of delivery of the aircraft from the US to the USSR under lend-lease.

Only from 1942 to 1945, Soviet and American pilots ferried from this city about 8 thousand combat aircraft, which had a marked influence on the course of the fighting on the Soviet-German front. In August 2006 in Fairbanks was inaugurated a monument in memory of the program of lend-lease and Soviet-American brotherhood in arms during the Second world war.

The Minister of foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, of course, could not take the opportunity to visit the monument to the heroes of the Alsib.

“It would be a shame to come here and not visit this memorial,” – said the Russian foreign Minister and laid flowers to the memorial. “We appreciate the fact that as Alaskans to honor the memory of our common struggle against fascism during the Second world war,” he added.

There is no potential for conflict

The thesis of the inevitability of close international interaction in the polar region became the leitmotif of the speeches of the foreign Ministers participating in the meeting. “Russia has done much and will do to the Arctic has developed as an area of peace, stability and cooperation. There is no potential for any conflict”, – said the Minister of foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov.

“International law can reliably ensure that in our region the national interests of the Arctic States, which have a special responsibility for long-term development of the far North”, he added. “The Arctic Council has become a forum where we can develop cooperation,” said U.S. Secretary of state Rex Tillerson, pointing out that in each of the countries – members of the Council “there is interest in the development strategy of the Arctic”.

The head of the Swedish diplomacy Margot Wallström in her speech recalled that until now the Arctic was “a zone of peace, observance of laws and cooperation”. “Should continue to maintain this state of Affairs,” she called.

And the canadian Minister Chrystia Freeland welcomed the Russian delegation in Russian. “Although it is not a secret that between the two countries in some issues there is disagreement in the Arctic Council, we always could, can and will talk and solve our common issues. I’m very glad you’re here,” said Freeland, who has Ukrainian roots.

The position data of the participants was reflected in the “Declaration of Fairbanks”, adopted at the conclusion of the forum. The document stresses the desire “to maintain peace, stability and constructive cooperation in the Arctic”, as well as to contribute to the economic development of indigenous peoples of the North and to take measures to protect the environment.

The Ministers also signed in Fairbanks binding “Agreement to improve international scientific cooperation in the Arctic”, which will regulate the issues of ease of access of scientists to research centres in the Arctic, delivery of scientific equipment and materials, training of young researchers and scientific exchanges.

Working groups

The Arctic Council has six working groups: Arctic monitoring and assessment, conservation of Arctic flora and fauna, on the prevention, preparedness and response to emergencies, preservation of the Arctic marine environment, sustainable development, and a group to combat pollution of the Arctic. Each of them had a serious preparation for the Ministerial meeting.

As told TASS Executive Secretary conservation of Arctic flora and fauna Tom Barry, in groups in shifts is chaired by the participating countries of the organization. “Our group works in Iceland, presidency of Norway, and before that Russia”, – he said. “With the Russian scientists, we are in constant interaction, we conduct workshops in various cities, including in Russia,” said the expert.

Barie reported that he had attended one of these events on Chukotka. “Of course, there are incredibly beautiful, organized event too, it was great,” he said. According to the Executive Secretary of the group, its members “are actively working with the Russian Ministry of natural resources, (approx. TASS) signed a cooperation agreement”.