US Takes Responsibility for Being an Arctic Country

Day two's headline act was Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski, who discussed US priorities in the Arctic and the two elephants in the room.

By Elías Thorsson - October 20, 2023
US Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska used her keynote speech to proclaim that America was an Arctic state. (Arctic Circle)

Day two of the Arctic Circle conference was another day packed full of everything under the Arctic sun. 

Arguably, the ‘star’ of the day was US Senator from Alaska Lisa Murkowski, who was greeted like a lifelong friend by Arctic Circle chairman Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. Speaking at length in front of a packed auditorium that usually houses the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra and various other musical acts, she sang a tune that received a notable ovation from the audience. “America is finally appreciating that we are an Arctic nation.”. It seems reasonable to assume that the leaders of all Arctic governments, bar one, are elated that the US wants to step up to the plate. 

The importance of the US to Arctic issues was made evident by the size of the audience that came to listen to Murkowski speak. (Arctic Circle)

Earlier in the year, a joint Chinese and Russian naval exercise off the coast of Alaska prompted Murkowski and her fellow Republican Senator Dan Sullivan to release a statement claiming this was “yet another reminder that we have entered a new era of authoritarian aggression led by the dictators in Beijing and Moscow.” 

Here she also used the opportunity to call out the two countries, which she called “the elephants in the room.” She wasn’t shy about mentioning one of the more complex dilemmas of this year’s Arctic Circle conference; of these two supposedly adversarial nations the Arctic one is absent, while the non-Arctic one is present. 

Tomorrow is the final day of the three day conference and another day to participate in a vast dialog that that encompasses far more than just the glass walls of the trendy Harpa conference center.