Norway urges Canada and Russia to forge Arctic agreement

Norway has called on Canada to settle its disputes with Russia in an attempt to decrease tensions over sovereignty in the Far North. The recommendation has come after a maritime delimitation was signed by Russia and Norway this week, ending a 40-year disagreement between the two nations and allowing for new trade routes and the exploration of natural resources.

According to Jonas Gahr Store, Norway’s Foreign Minister, several countries with Arctic interests, including Canada, have approached Norway for advice on how to negotiate with Russia. Lawrence Cannon, the Canadian Foreign Minister, also held talks with Russian officials in Moscow earlier this week.

“Minister Cannon has shown a keen interest in this process since before we concluded this agreement,” Store said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

The once-impenetrable Arctic Ocean has become of great interest to surrounding nations since significant ice melting opened up the prospect of tapping into the vast oil and natural gas deposits in the region. Both Norway and Russia have been proactive in pursuing an agreement, while Canada is widely perceived to be dragging its feet on the issue.

“Everyone else is sorting out their differences, we really are the laggards,” Professor Michael Byers, global politics and international law chair at the University of British Columbia, told Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail. He added that Canada could come to an arrangement over their territorial claims if they approach the matter seriously over the next two years.

“This will be decided purely on the basis of the geology and international law,” Byers told Canada’s online news site The Star. “The Law of the Sea Convention has incredibly detailed provisions that are entirely science-based.”

Minister Store has suggested that Russia and Canada should try to negotiate for themselves after both nations sought the help of the UN to settle their territory dispute. “This is the way to go. I’m certain that Canada and Russia, being Arctic coastal states, have real steps to explore on a number of areas,” he said.

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