Matthaios Melas

If there is a place of common ground between the European Union and Russia, it is on the fields of energy, environment and migration. The Arctic binds together the EU with its two major energy suppliers, Norway and Russia. In 2014 the EU imported almost 70% of its total natural gas from Norway and Russia and 44% of its crude oil. The EU, Norway and Russia are also bound together by common efforts to protect the Arctic environment. Moreover, the recent migration crisis in Europe not only rattled the foundations of the Schengen treaty but also raised tensions between Norway and Russia especially at their borders. After two world wars, Europe has sought for stability. Moving forward from the difficult past, geopolitical issues were put to the side, but it was Ukraine that violently reintroduced geopolitics in European international relations. This paper seeks to analyse the common – and not so common – ground of these three major actors on contemporary Arctic issues. Energy exploitation and distribution, environmental protection and migration flows are the new geopolitical elements of the “European” Arctic. With my research, I want to present the Arctic as an example of cooperation and mutual understanding rather than a boiling pot. I am going to argue that violence is not inherent to geopolitics but, as the name itself implies, geopolitics explain how politics and international relations are affected by both human and physical geographical factors. The last point that I will make is that geopolitical analysis is crucial for identifying important underlying issues that could lead to political, military or economic destabilisation if disregarded.

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