High North Policy Part II

High North Policy Part II

In order to ensure control of the fisheries in the disputed area , the parties agreed in 1978 to establish a temporary “gray zone” , where each party would control its own fishermen. The gray zone agreement has been renewed every year since 1978, and from a fisheries management point of view it works well. The parties are still negotiating a dividing line.

The disagreement over ownership of the marine resources around Svalbard has been more problematic . In principle, Norway reserves the right to declare an economic zone around Svalbard, as has been done around mainland Norway. In 1977, however, it was clear that the countries that had signed the Svalbard Treaty of 1920, no one would accept such a zone. They believed that it would violate the principle of equal treatment in the Treaty. According to this principle, all states that sign the agreement have an equal right to conduct business activities on Svalbard.

Instead, according to INTERSHIPPINGRATES, Norway declared a so-called fisheries protection zone around Svalbard. None of the other countries fishing in the area have accepted this. Fishermen from other countries have nevertheless been inspected by the Norwegian Coast Guard and to a large extent complied with the Norwegian fisheries regulations there.

The Barents Sea is one of the world’s most important fishing grounds . Blue. it contains the world’s largest cod stock. In 1975, Norway and the Soviet Union agreed to manage several of the populations in the area, e.g. cod, in common. The Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission determines total quotas for the most important stocks and divides them according to established distribution keys, e.g. 50–50 for cod. During the Cold War, this was a rare example of East-West cooperation in the High North.

4: The legacy of the 1990s

In 1987, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev delivered his famous Murmansk speech . In it, he called for a “civilization” of the European High North and international cooperation to solve the problems there. A Norwegian-Russian environmental protection commission was established in 1988, to deal in particular with pollution from the nickel plants on the Kola Peninsula.

In 1991, a major international environmental initiative was taken in the High North, which in 1996 led to the formation of the Arctic Council. The Council is an arena for co-operation between the eight Arctic states (the five Nordic countries, the USA, Canada and Russia) and has especially worked with environmental mapping and indigenous issues.

At the initiative of Norway, the Baroque Euro-Arctic region was established in 1993. The co-operation will counteract military tensions, reduce the threat to the environment and reduce the gap in living standards on the Nordic and Russian sides in the region. Institutionally, Barents co-operation has both a state and a regional
base. At the state level, the Euro – Arctic Barents Council is the supreme body. Here, the five Nordic countries as well as Russia and the EU Commission are members. A number of countries have observer status, among them the United States.

The practical cooperation in the Barents region takes place mainly at the regional level . The northernmost “counties” in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia participate here. Cooperation on environmental protection, business development and development of infrastructure were the most important focus areas in the first years. From the end of the 1990s, health became a priority area. Barents co-operation is associated by many first and foremost with people-to-people projects, such as the exchange of students and co-operation within culture and skills development.

Partly in parallel with the Barents cooperation and partly as part of it, a number of new areas of cooperation emerged between Norway and North-West Russia during the 1990s . Within environmental protection, nuclear safety in particular would dominate the agenda. It became known that the Soviet Union had dumped radioactive material in the Barents and Kara Seas. Warehouses for radioactive waste in northwestern Russia were full, and capacity was limited to recycling the waste or sending it out of the region.

On the Norwegian side, an action plan for nuclear safety was established in 1995 in northwestern Russia. Another threat from the east was identified at this time: infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV / AIDS. Most frightening was the rise of multi-resistant tuberculosis as a result of inadequate treatment of Russian tuberculosis patients. The political response came in the form of the Barents Health Program in 1999 and an action group for infectious diseases in the Baltic Sea region (including North-West Russia) in 2001. Norway took a leading role and was the most important economic contributor to the work.

In the period 1993–2003, the Norwegian authorities allocated around NOK 3 billion to various measures in northwestern Russia. Around one billion went to nuclear safety, just over one and a half billion to project cooperation in the environment, health, education and research, 300 million to the modernization of the nickel plant in Petsjenga and 150 million to an investment fund for North-West Russia.

High North Policy 2