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NATO summit welcomes Iceland's initiative on the High North

6.4.2009

In his address to the 60th anniversary NATO Summit in Strasbourg – Kehl, Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ossur Skarphedinsson, urged the Alliance to focus on the High North in its future strategic developments. Due to global climate change and ice melting, new trans-arctic shipping routes would soon open up, increasing the transport of goods through the Arctic. The melting of the icecap would also open up significant energy and marine resources such as oil and gas in the future.

The Foreign Minister cautioned against increased military presence in the High North but stressed the need for the Allicance to prepare for an increasing role in the area due to increased shipping and processing of natural resources. The final declaration of the Summit welcomes the initiative of Iceland in raising the interest of Allies in safety- and security-related developments in the High North.

During the discussion on Afghanistan the Foreign Minister emphasized that the Alliance must focus on human rights in Afghanisitan. He critizised a planned legislation which would be detrimental to the rights of women and childen, including on education. Minister Skarphedinsson urged Allies to take measures to prevent the law from taking effect. Despite Iceland’s difficult economic situation, the Minister said that Iceland would continue to participate in development and humanitatian work in Afghanistan.

The Allies agreed on a new Secretary General for NATO, Denmark’s Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. During a closed discussion on this, Minister Skarphedinsson expressed full support to Fogh Rasmussen’s canditature.



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