Russia and Iceland will consider new areas of cooperation in the Far East and the Arctic

By griffith - July 1, 2021

A working meeting of the Deputy Minister of the Russian Federation for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic Anatoly Bobrakov with the Chairman of the Althing (Parliament) of the Republic of Iceland, a member of the Green Left party Althing Steingrimur Johann Sigfusson took place in Moscow. On the Russian side, the meeting was attended by Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Chairman of the Committee of Senior Officials of the Arctic Council Nikolai Korchunov and acting Director General of the Corporation for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic Igor Nosov. On the Icelandic side were the first vice-chairman of Althing of Iceland, member of the “Alliance – Party of Social Democrats of Iceland” Althing Bryaunsson Gudjon and deputy chairman of the “Party of Independence” faction Althinga Aurnason Vilhyaulmur.

During the meeting, the parties discussed the chairmanship of the Russian Federation in the Arctic Council in 2021-2023, Russian-Icelandic interaction in the Arctic and prospects for bilateral cooperation in the field of geothermal energy.

Deputy Minister Anatoly Bobrakov informed the Icelandic partners about the state policy in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation, as well as about the relevant regulatory legal acts prepared by the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East. It was noted that in 2020, on the eve of the Russian chairmanship in the Arctic Council, a number of strategic documents were adopted: the Fundamentals of Russian State Policy in the Arctic, the Strategy for the Development of the Arctic Zone and Ensuring National Security, as well as a package of federal laws on state support for entrepreneurial activity in the Arctic zone. In March 2021, a new state program for the socio-economic development of the Arctic zone was approved.

The Deputy Minister stressed that it is important for Russia to continue interaction with Iceland along the entire Arctic track. The parties discussed Iceland’s approach to solving pressing regional issues during the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2019-2021. Having assumed the chairmanship of the Council in May 2021, Russia is committed to ensuring the continuity of the main priorities in its work in the spirit of preserving peace, stability and constructive interaction. He expressed his desire for effective cooperation with Icelandic partners. Representatives of Russia and Iceland noted the role of the Arctic Council as a key international platform for making collective decisions on sustainable development of the region.

We noted the productive dialogue on the project of the Snezhinka international Arctic station based on renewable energy sources and hydrogen energy technologies, which is being implemented within the framework of the Arctic Council Working Group on Sustainable Development – SDWG (from the Russian side, the responsible federal executive body – the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East). In addition, Iceland has expressed interest in cooperation with Russia along the Northern Sea Route.

The Russian side proposed to discuss the possibility of organizing an Icelandic business mission to the Far East and the Arctic as the international epidemic situation improves for the presentation of promising projects in the field of “green energy”. We agreed to resume dialogue to discuss joint projects in Kamchatka in the field of geothermal energy. The chairman of Althingi Iceland, Steingrimur Johann Sigfusson, confirmed the interest of Icelandic companies in cooperation with Russia in this area. Iceland has extensive experience in the construction of geothermal energy facilities.

During the meeting, special attention was paid to ensuring the socio-cultural development of the Arctic region and the well-being of indigenous peoples, improving their quality of life. The topic of measures to support young people living in the northern latitudes was touched upon. The parties also discussed the problems of ecology, climate change and environmental pollution.