Arctic not zone of interstate conflicts - Russian diplomat

RIA Novosti / Sergey Pyatakov
The territories of the Arctic zone are already divided and should not be a subject of dispute, Russia's special envoy and representative in the Arctic Council, Anton Vasilyev, said in an interview with Interfax.

­The Russian diplomat said there have been no conflicts involving territorial boundaries in the Arctic.

"Concerning the continental shelf, no overlapping bids have been involved thus far,” Vasilyev said.  “Russia filed its bid in 2001 and is gathering additional scientific proof to support it. We have done enormous work in this connection.”

In May 2007, Russian explorers traveled to the floor of the Arctic and planted a Russian flag on the seabed 4,200m (14,000ft) below the North Pole in an effort to prove that an underwater area, known as the Lomonosov Ridge, was an extension of its continental territory.

Russia’s successful mission sparked something of a gold rush in the region, which is thought to contain oil, gas and mineral reserves.

“We are playing by the rules and we are working in the institutions, specially set up for this purpose,” Vasilyev, who spoke at the Arctic Future Symposium, organized by the International Polar Foundation jointly with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, told Interfax. “We can see that our partners are doing the same."

The Arctic resources already prospected lie 95-97 percent within the zone of the Arctic states' sovereign rights, he added.

Norway's additional bid got the backing from the UN Continental Shelf Commission in 2009, while Canada and Denmark could file their additional bids, too, he said.

"It is a normal process and these countries are working to provide substantiation for their bids," Vasilyev said.

The Russian special envoy then spoke about the difficulties of proving claims so far below one of the coldest places on Earth.

"Contrary to some media reports and unconscientiously written commentaries, there is no conflict between the countries that have filed their bids for the continental shelf already, or will probably do so, because according to the rules all of us abide by, we are to prove the same thing,” he said. “Our proof and the proof to be provided by our partners, involves an enormous amount of work, including the gathering of scientific evidence which lies in the realm of logic and natural sciences – physics, geology, etc."

"But most important, the members of the Arctic Five – Denmark, Canada, Norway, Russia and the United States – have established a dialogue and we exchange data and inform each other of the progress made in gathering additional proof to back our bids or in preparing new ones,” he said.

“We are like-minded nations," Vasilyev concluded.

Robert Bridge, RT