Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honoured to speak here today.
A warm thank you to Greenland and to the EU for organizing this conference. It is the perfect occasion to bring the EU and the Arctic even closer together.
I am a European at heart.
We Europeans share a lot of history – good and bad.
The positive outcome, the EU, is a project of peace and of leadership – not by power but by example.
I believe in that project. And I believe that the EU is the best partner that we in the Arctic could have.
The Arctic is a unique region with unique challenges and opportunities.
Here, climate changes are very visible. Temperatures are rising three to four times the global average. Permafrost is melting – releasing carbon. Arctic wildfires are on the rise – releasing even more carbon.
This has global consequences, but for the people living in the Arctic this is already a reality.
We need to meet those challenges and we need to do it now. Will it be costly? Yes, it will. But delaying will only make it more costly. For all of us.
We also need to promote inclusive and sustainable economic development to the benefit of all those living in the Arctic.
How to diversify the economies? How to develop sustainable green growth? How to attract the young that have left to pursue an education? How to ensure good health services in remote, sparsely populated areas?
We need good answers to these questions.
It is clear to me, that international cooperation is necessary if we are to meet these challenges.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has made this difficult. It has made a strong impact also on Arctic cooperation, including in the Arctic Council.
We cannot have business-as-usual with Russia in the Arctic when they blatantly violate all principles of international cooperation in Ukraine.
At the same time, we do not have the luxury of choice. We must continue to develop long-term visions for the Arctic as a whole.
I see three specific things we need to act on:
First - we have to bolster our resilience. We cannot allow ourselves to be overly dependent on a few countries. Especially within critical sectors and technologies.
At the same time, we must remain committed to an open world – an open trading system with rules we all agree on and play by.
Second – we must safeguard the Arctic Council as the primary forum for Arctic cooperation. Also in the long term. It plays an important role not least in improving living conditions for the peoples of the Arctic.
By its very nature the Arctic Council contributes to maintaining low tension in the region”[sic]
It is in the interest of no one, if competing organizations are established, giving non-Arctic states a more prominent role in the Arctic.
Third – we must invest in the Arctic. To the benefit of its inhabitants and to the benefit of the planet as a whole.
The Arctic holds both answers to many of our questions and the resources to help tackle challenges.
In the Greenland ice core lies information on the climate change and its consequences. In Arctic Sweden, a recent find of rare earth metals offers part of the solution to our challenges.
In short: We must strengthen the regions resilience.
We must address the impacts of climate change. We must foster inclusive and sustainable economic development.
And wee [sic] must invest in research and in education and in managing the consequences of climate change.
In conclusion, let me repeat that I see no better partner for the Arctic than the EU. I welcome the decision to open an EU Commission Office here in Nuuk.
And if you ask me, what the EU should do, my answer is: even more of what the EU has been doing for years – promote our joint interests and values through close cooperation with likeminded Arctic partners.
Thank you for your attention.