Mr Hallén’s viewpoint is in keeping with the Norwegian Government’s new report, Norway’s Arctic Policy for 2014 and beyond, which was recently released in Hammerfest, Norway.
In an interview in the report, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende states that the stance taken by Norway together with European and other allies in advocating the rule of international law and the application of international conventions in relation to Russia’s actions in Ukraine is also important in a High North perspective. According to the Minister, respect for international law and international cooperation are crucial to promoting stability and predictability in the Arctic. Norway will continue to seek cooperation with Russia wherever possible.
“Russia is an important partner for Norway,” says Mr Hallén, “particularly given our common strategic interests in the Arctic. Working together to find common solutions when it comes to natural resources and environmental protection requires a productive climate of cooperation. We need to develop a common knowledge base and collaborate on reaching practical solutions. This is why Russia is one of the eight priority partner countries in our new roadmaps for bilateral research cooperation.”
Long history of cooperation
Norway and Russia have longstanding traditions of cooperation on research. Norwegian explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen consulted with Russian researchers when preparing for their expeditions. Russians such as Lomonosov, Rusanov, Sedov, Papanin, Shirshov, Fyodorov and Krenkel all helped to map the Arctic and make the area more accessible for communication and science.
Even the Cold War did not prevent cooperation between Norwegians and Russians, for instance, in exchanging catch count data needed to quantify fish stocks in the Atlantic. But not until the dissolution of the Soviet Union was it possible to establish systematic, long-term research cooperation.
In 2005 the Research Council of Norway’s large-scale programme on Optimal Management of Petroleum Resources (PETROMAKS) held a seminar in Moscow together with the Russian Oil and Gas Research Institute. According to Mr Hallén, that event marked the beginning of cooperation between the Research Council and the Russian Academy of Sciences that has resulted in a number of important agreements.
The seminar “Norway-Russia: Research Cooperation and Development in the High North” is being co-organised by three Research Council programmes: the Large-scale Programme for Petroleum Research (PETROMAKS2), the Programme for Social Science Research related to the Petroleum Sector (PETROSAM2), and the Programme on Russia and International Relations in the High North (NORRUSS), in cooperation with the Russian Foundation for Basic Research. Thus far the Research Council has issued three joint calls for proposals with the Russian foundation, and the two organisations have co-financed 11 projects since the agreement between them was signed in 2011.
Productive cooperation with Russia is also essential for the Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System (SIOS), an international infrastructure project involving 28 European and Asian partners. Coordinated cooperation with Russia on Svalbard provides a unique opportunity for contact and coordination and is necessary for further developing Svalbard as a research platform and expanding Norway’s role as host country for international research activities there.
The SIOS project will establish a complete Earth observing system based on existing research infrastructure as a step in increasing our understanding of ongoing and future climate change. The SIOS system will enable researchers to study not only individual processes but also their interactions at all levels in the biosphere, geosphere, atmosphere, cryosphere/hydrosphere and anthroposphere. Constructive agreements with the Russian research institutions in the SIOS project will help to achieve results in these valuable efforts.
Click here for the Norway-Russia seminar agenda and additional information.