Arctic Yearbook 2012
All in all, the High North Strategy is primarily, on one hand, an advanced continuation to
long-term Norwegian policy in the High North, meaning the Barents Sea region. The most
strategic element is Norway’s focus on Russia and an active engagement of Russia’s
participation in bilateral cooperation. On the other hand, it seeks the strengthening of
Norwegian state sovereignty in the High North, as is evident from statements, such as “large
parts of the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea are under Norwegian fisheries jurisdiction”,
or that Norway will maintain its “presence on the islands of Jan Mayen, Björnöya and
Hopen” as well as its influence in Svalbard (ibid, 31, 32).
Finally, by focusing on (North-West) Russia, Norway is clearly defining the importance of
regional cooperation and region-building as well as business development in foreign and
security policy in terms of comprehensive security. Here the Strategy can be seen as an
important means to achieving such a goal.
The Russian Federation’s State Policy in the Arctic
The Arctic policy of the Russian Federation “Fundamentals of State Policy of the Russian
Federation in the Arctic in the Period up to 2020 and Beyond” was adopted by President D.
Medvedev in September 2008, and made public in 2009 (Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 2009).
In October 1987, a speech by the then-Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev (1987) in
Murmansk gave the initial impetus for the current intergovernmental cooperation in the
Arctic and led to a significant geopolitical change and the start of broad international
northern cooperation, such as the AEPS and the AC (Heininen, 2004). The speech, with its
numerous initiatives, was a surprise for the West, but behind it was the fact that the Arctic
and the entire North has been, and still is, of particular importance for Russia. For example,
most of the federal districts and subjects of the Russian Federation deal with Arctic and
Northern regions. From the industrial as well as military points of view the North is an
important and strategic area for Russia. Finally, the discourse is increasingly academic with
an aim to redefine the role of the Russian North as more than a geo-strategically important
resource reserve (Alekseyev, 2001).
At the turn of the 21
century, Russian political discussions centered on
Western/EU-Russian relations, and in terms of the EU's Northern Dimension, a focus was
given to the role Russia might play in Northern (geo)politics (Sutyrin, 2000). There was also