Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide shifted his attention from the aftermath of a hostage crisis in Afghanistan to the future of the Arctic this week, when he joined leaders of other Arctic nations at a major conference in Tromsø on Monday.
Eide, who’d been working day and night on the hostage crisis, addressed the group with big plans for the years ahead. He said that with a framework for cooperation among Arctic nations now in place, it was time to turn to the “next phase,” in which Norway and other countries with Arctic territory can start exploiting natural resources.
“Now we can start to take advantage all the opportunities that lie in the Arctic,” Eide said. “We can extract oil and gas, take mineral resources in use and develop knowledge, competence, innovation and technology to take care of the great opportunities.”
News bureau NTB reported that both Eide and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt used the podium at the large Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsø to sum up what’s known in Norway at Arktisk Råd, the 16-year-old council cooperation among eight countries ringing the Arctic Ocean. Both Eide and Bildt branded it as a success.