High North Policy Part I

High North Policy Part I

When Jonas Gahr Støre took office as Foreign Minister in the Stoltenberg government in the autumn of 2005, he declared the High North as the first priority in Norwegian foreign policy. Thus, he confirmed a development that had been going on for a couple of years. For the first time since the Cold War, the High North was at the top of the foreign policy agenda. Ice melting, dividing line, nuclear pollution and Barents cooperation – this article will help you keep track.

  • What is meant by the High North and High North policy?
  • What is new, and what is old in Norwegian High North policy?
  • What specific challenges do we face in the High North?
  • Can the challenges be solved through international cooperation?

2: The High North and High North policy

What is the High North policy, and where are the High North actually located? Traditionally, in the Norwegian political debate, we have understood High North policy as our foreign policy in the European High North, ie north of the Arctic Circle. Key keywords are “foreign policy” and “European”. High North policy is

  • not domestic politics in the north, and
  • rather not circumpolar – it does not cover international politics in the Arctic outside the Norwegian vicinity. We like to refer to this as international Arctic policy.

In practice, we are dealing with Norway’s relations with other countries in the Barents Sea and on Svalbard, as well as in the border areas with Russia.

As Foreign Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre has contributed to the term ‘High North’s now being used in more contexts than before. High North policy is linked both to domestic policy efforts in the north and to circumpolar Arctic policy. The Minister of Foreign Affairs is happy to point out that efforts must be made in northern Norway to make the region as capable as possible of safeguarding Norwegian foreign policy interests. This was most recently expressed in March when the government presented the strategy New building blocks in the north. At the same time, he claims that developments in our own northern neighboring areas must be seen in the light of international Arctic policy.

In the Government’s High North Strategy (from 2006), the High North was defined geographically as the land and sea areas from South Helgeland in the south to the Greenland Sea in the west and the Pechora Sea (the southeastern corner of the Barents Sea) in the east – in other words quite similar to the traditional view of what the High North is .

In continuation of this, it is said that the High North in a political sense includes the regional administrative units (counties, counties, etc.) in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia that are part of the Baroque Euro-Arctic region (see below). In addition, High North policy also includes Nordic co-operation, relations with the United States and Canada through the Arctic Council (see below) and with the EU through the Northern Dimension, which is the EU framework for political dialogue and concrete co-operation between East and West in northern Europe.

3: The traditional High North policy

The High North was of course important in Norwegian foreign policy even during the Cold War until the end of the 1980s, especially in security policy. Norway and the neighboring country The Soviet Union stood on opposite sides in the Cold War between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, and the Kola Peninsula was the world’s most militarized area. In addition, according to HOMEAGERLY, the Barents Sea was the scene of both conflicts and cooperation between the two coastal states of Norway and the Soviet Union.

In line with developments in the law of the sea, Norway and the Soviet Union established so-called economic zones in 1977 . The coastal states thus gained sovereign rights over natural resources up to 200 nautical miles (370 km) from land. However, the two countries could not agree on the principles for drawing the boundaries between their respective zones. Somewhat simplified we can say that

  • Norway believes that the border at sea should follow the midline from the land border and out to sea ( “the midline principle” )
  • Russia wants the border line at sea to follow a straight line from the border point on land to the North Pole point ( “sector principle” ).

High North Policy 1