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GREENLAND: Arctic Powers Duel for Energy Wealth
ILULISSAT -- The five nations that ring the Arctic Ocean affirmed their willingness to cooperate to protect its environment, at the end of a day-long ministerial summit in Greenland.

An Arctic Ocean summit aimed at easing territorial tensions among Canada and the four other nations bordering the northern sea appeared to evolve Wednesday into something more substantial: an Arctic Group of Five, with ambitious plans to oversee polar oil and mineral exploration, maritime security, transportation and environmental regulation.

"The Arctic Ocean stands at the threshold of significant changes," the countries, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States. said in the Ilulissat Declaration.

"Climate change and the melting of ice have a potential impact on vulnerable ecosystems, the livelihoods of local inhabitants and indigenous communities, and the potential exploitation of natural resources.

Indigenous Peoples have their own definition

But concern was expressed by a prominant Inuit spokesman, who said the indigenous peoples of the Arctic were being "marginalised".

"Inuit have their own definition of sovereignty," said Aqqaluk Lynge, the Greenlandic politician who is president of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, which speaks for 150,000 Inuit.

Mary Simon and Aqqaluk Lynge

Lynge said Inuit leaders would gather in the northern Canadian town of Kuujjuaq in November for their own summit on how to "collectively respond to the main forces -- state, industry and others -- that are debating questions of ownership of our lands and seas without us having a meaningful voice".

"By virtue of their sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction in large areas of the Arctic Ocean, the five coastal states are in a unique position to address these possibilities and challenges."

The conference, which was organized by Per Stig Moeller, Denmark´s Foreign Minister, could mark the beginning of an international power struggle over the future governance of the rapidly warming and increasingly accessible polar region.

The European Parliament is considering adopting an Arctic policy to assert greater influence over environmental protection and other spheres of activity in the polar region.

The Arctic Council, an eight-country coalition of northern nations that includes the Arctic G-5, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and indigenous peoples, is also developing rules for managing Arctic resources and environmental threats.

Arctic powers meet in Greenland to decide the division of vast oil reserves - serious conflict possible. Professor Marianne Stenbaek of McGill University states says that the issue of arctic sovereignty has military, socio-cultural, and environmental implications, and that "we could see real conflict  in the years to come."

Look at this video about Arctic Powers in Greenland

Updated 29.05.2008
Published by: Liv Inger Somby