Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) and member of the Estonian delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) Hannes Hanso attends the meeting of the NATO PA Science and Technology Committee in Canada, where the discussion focuses on the geopolitical developments in the Arctic and the Arctic Ocean region.
“The Arctic is becoming a new region of escalating geopolitical tensions, where the interests of great powers may clash,” Hanso said. In his opinion, the region has huge economic and transit potential and global environmental impact. “As most of the countries of the region are NATO countries, like Norway, Denmark, Canada, the USA, and there is also Russia, who is busily militarising the Arctic, it is natural that NATO has to consider this region in its planning process.”
“The Arctic is the most rapidly warming region in the world, this is the new reality. Climate change has brought along the melting of sea ice, which enables to develop economy in the Arctic region. This will be accompanied by a significant change of the logic of the global ship traffic, taking into use of additional mineral resources and oil fields, but also legal issues relating to all that,” Hanso said, emphasising the importance of the region.
He said it was also necessary to think of the security issues, safe marine navigation and prevention of marine pollution. Besides that, it is also necessary to take into account that the Arctic is becoming a centre of strategic interests also for China and several other large economies of Asia.
During five days, the discussions of the Committee will focus on developing sustainable economy in the Arctic, supporting of the Arctic communities, climate change, and protecting the environment of the Arctic. The geostrategic significance of the Canadian Arctic and the obligations in the Arctic which Canada has assumed in the framework of its new defence policy, and which among other things also involve NATO, will be spoken about as well. Besides that, international cooperation in the Arctic will be discussed. The capabilities of the Canadian defence industry to participate in NATO projects will be introduced.
The members of the Committee will get an overview of the cooperation between Canada and the USA in the defence and security sector, where cyber security will also be discussed. Trade relations between Canada and the US and energy issues will be dealt with, too. The discussions will try to find an answer to the questions of how to promote transatlantic defence, technological and industrial cooperation, and the role of private sector in it.
At the meetings held in the Canadian parliament on Monday, the members of the Committee learned about the unique geography, climate, environment, natural resources, history, demography and economy of the Arctic. The scientific and academic contribution of the Canadian government to the Arctic, and the strong aspects of the Government’s current Arctic policy and the sectors that need to be improved were also spoken of. The round table talks focused on the defence and security of the Arctic.
The countries of the Arctic region include Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark (Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States of America.
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