Oslo urges Ottawa to settle Arctic dispute with Moscow

Norway has urged Canada to settle a dispute with Russia over sovereignty of territory in the Arctic, in order to lower tensions. This came after a boundary agreement between Russia and Norway, marking the end of a dispute that lasted over forty years. Norway’s dispute with Russia had been over the Barents Sea, an area rich in natural resources. Canada’s current dispute with Russia is similar in nature, and settling it could serve as a way to lower tension between the two countries.

Foreign Ministers Streand Cannon

Jonas Gahr Store, the Foreign Minister for Norway, said that the Barents Sea pact between Norway and Russia serves as an example of how each country with a foothold in the Arctic is scrambling to try an claim a region that could contain as much as one-quarter of the world’s total untapped oil and gas, and which will become more accessible as the polar ice caps melt. Gahr also said

“It is also sending a message to the Arctic states that this is how we solve outstanding issues. It’s done through negotiation; it’s done by using the most modern principles of international law.”

Store added that many governments including Canada’s have approached the government of Norway in the past for advice on negotiating with Russia regarding the Arctic. A joint submission between Canada and Russia has been submitted to the United Nations committee, which will rule on the fact that both countries have laid claim to the sea bed of the Arctic Circle. Both Canada and Russia have claimed the Lomonosov Ridge, which is an underwater mountain range in the Arctic Sea. Both countries have claimed that the Lomonosov Ridge is an extension of their own continental shelves.

Arctic Norway

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon met to discuss measures to resolve the dispute. Cannon added

“I also restated our government’s unwavering commitment to protecting Canada’s sovereignty, and emphasized that our territorial integrity remains non-negotiable,”

in a statement released from his office. He also said that that Canada will not militarize their claim, but will assert sovereignty over the area. However, there was an incident during which Canadian fighter jets chased away Russian bombers that had flown near (though not into) Canadian airspace. Lavrov warned against NATO (North Atlantic Trade Organization) boosting its presence in the Arctic: “I don’t think it would be right for NATO to assume the right to determine … how to make decisions in the Arctic.”

Photos by Ministry of Foreign Affairs