As the Arctic heats up, diplomatic meetings are getting rather frosty. You might have missed this, but Canada got a public rebuke from the U.S. yesterday over Arctic policy. From the Voice of America:
On Monday, Canada hosted a meeting of foreign ministers from five countries with Arctic coastlines for talks on maritime boundaries, disaster response and other issues. The U.S. and Canada were joined by Denmark, Norway and Russia.
But other countries with Arctic interests – Finland, Iceland and Sweden – as well as northern indigenous groups were not invited.
Clinton said in remarks to the meeting that significant international discussions on Arctic issues should include those who have legitimate interests in the region. She said she hopes the Arctic will always showcase the ability to work together, not create new divisions.
Canada, who had invited only those countries with Arctic coastlines, irked Iceland, Sweden and Finland–who think that Arctic decisions need to be made by the 8 state Arctic Council. The Inuit were also upset. So the U.S. issued Canada a public rebuke–the first since the run-up to the Gulf War.
And today, Canada confirmed it was going to leave Afghanistan.
Other arguments aside, the Arctic debate is getting serious, and, given that the five participants have plans to operate 66 ice-ready, combatants, the time to talk is now–even if a few non-territorial claiming stakeholders are left out–after all, Iceland, Sweden and Finland won’t be fighting over places like, oh, Hans Island…
And then, to boot, where does one draw the line? If the Arctic Council participates, why shouldn’t China be allowed to participate? I mean, they might feel they have “legitimate interests”:
Earlier this month, a Chinese rear-admiral asserted that the Arctic belongs to all peoples. He was correct — if only with respect to the central Arctic Ocean where the water and sea-ice form part of the high seas and an area of ocean floor beyond the continental shelves of the five coastal states is part of the “common heritage of mankind.”
I don’t understand the goals here. Why are we making a big stink over this diplomatic meeting? Sometimes it’s OK to have an exclusive club…and with Arctic Claims being seen as a basis for support of China’s claims in the East and South China seas, the five “Arctic-owning” nations need to talk far more than argue. A lot of things ride on getting this right.
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