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Arctic Yearbook 2012
development and environmental protection; fourth, transportation; fifth, people and
cultures; and sixth, international cooperation on research and monitoring.
The clear emphasis of the Report is on international, multilateral Arctic and northern
cooperation, mostly referring to neighboring countries, particularly Greenland and the Faroe
Islands, but also including the Barents Euro-Arctic Region (BEAR) and the AC. The Report
clearly indicates that there is a strong focus on the Arctic, or the High North, in Iceland’s
foreign policy and that it has become one of its key priority areas. Consequently, it is
emphasized that Iceland is strongly involved in international, Northern cooperation, and is
an active member of international and intergovernmental organizations. Here Iceland’s
possible EU membership (it is not mentioned) would most probably be viewed as a positive
development within the Nordic Region, though Iceland is already entirely integrated into
Nordic/Northern cooperation. But in terms of Arctic cooperation it would not be such a
significant development except if it causes a sort of ‘domino effect’ in the near future, which
would strengthen Iceland’s position in the North Atlantic, particularly in the West-Norden
and cooperation with Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Norway – all of which stand outside
the EU.
Indeed, stability and security through international and scientific cooperation, even in terms
of the safety of cruise ships, is greatly emphasized both in the Report and the Parliamentary
Resolution. It is also said that one of the objectives of Iceland is to work against the
militarization of the High North, and despite the US troops having only recently left Iceland,
the importance of state sovereignty is not emphasized in the Report. Nor is there mention of
the race for natural resources or emerging conflicts in the Report.
Resource development, including renewable energy and the fishing industry, is of high
importance in the protection of Iceland’s interests, higher even than environmental
protection. Further evidence of economic interests is the strong vision of a new and global
trans-arctic shipping route and the use of such a route for trade and cargo in the near future.
Furthermore, the vision of Iceland playing an important role in these developments and in
becoming a trans-shipment hub for container traffic is evident and seen as logical in light of
its central location in the North Atlantic. What is also interesting is that Iceland envisions a
role in a new aviation network. Here Europe and Asia are coming together, as they have
many common interests.