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What To Expect From Arctic Council Meeting in Iceland?

  • Ice melting in the Artic zone.

    Ice melting in the Artic zone. | Photo: Twitter/ @Pushkarajgosavi

Published 19 May 2021

This Ministerial Conference is considered to be the most important regional institutional arrangement in Arctic governance. It is held every two years.

The 12th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting is to be held Thursday in Reykjavik, Iceland. As the United States and Russia will use this multilateral stage to have bilateral talks, this year's meeting has attracted more attention.


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The eight-member Arctic Council is considered to be the most important regional institutional arrangement in Arctic governance. The Ministerial Conference, the decision-making body of the Council, is held every two years.

U.S.-Russia Talks

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet during the meeting to discuss hot issues in bilateral and international relations.

Analysts pointed out that U.S.-Russian relations have continued to be intensified in recent months, and that the two sides have obvious differences on issues such as Ukraine, cybersecurity, human rights, and election interference.

In such a context, the meeting, the first face-to-face between Blinken and Lavrov, is much more highly expected. Furthermore, paving the way for the U.S.-Russian leaders' summit is expected to be one of the tasks of the meeting.

In April U.S. President Joe Biden proposed holding a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Europe this summer, and in early May expressed hope that he will meet Putin during his visit to Europe in June.

It is expected that Blinken and Lavrov will prepare for the summit and may further compare notes on some specific issues.

Joint Declaration

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Arctic Council. As the Biden administration has shown a different climate foreign policy preference from the Donald Trump administration, analysts believed that this year's meeting is expected to be more fruitful than the previous one.

At the 11th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting held in Finland in 2019, due to the disagreement between the United States and other member states on the issue of climate change, the meeting failed to issue a joint declaration for the first time in the history of the Arctic Council.

Analysts observed that the Arctic is more vulnerable to climate change and global warming due to its unique geographical location and fragile natural ecological environment.

They called on all parties to arrive at a political consensus, strengthen cooperation and effectively deal with the challenges that climate change brings to the Arctic.

The meeting will see the end of the two-year Icelandic chairmanship and the beginning of Russia's chairmanship for the year 2021-2023. The meeting will also review around 80 deliverables compiled by the Council's Working Groups during the Icelandic chairmanship.

Arctic ministers plan to sign the first-ever strategic plan of the Arctic Council -- Reykjavik Declaration to mark the Council's 25th anniversary.

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