The Ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council will be held in Reykjavik later this week. The Foreign Ministers of all the Member States will be coming to Iceland to attend the meeting which marks the end of Iceland’s two-year Chairmanship of the Arctic Council.
The Council’s Ministerial meeting is held every two years, at the end of each Chairmanship period. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the format of the meeting will be different and smaller in scale than is usual, in order to make disease prevention easier. Participation in the meeting is limited to the Foreign Ministers of the eight Arctic States, as well as the Foreign Ministers of the Faeroe Islands and Greenland and representatives of the Indigenous Permanent Participants. Other participants will join the meeting through an online platform.
The meeting will begin with the eight Ministers attending a working dinner on Wednesday night. The actual meeting will take place the next day. The Council’s Ministerial Declaration, the Reykjavik Declaration, is expected to be adopted, as well as the Council’s policy direction for the next 10 years. During the meeting, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development Cooperation, Mr. Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson will hand over the Chairmanship to the Russian Federation’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Sergei Lavrov, as it is now Russia’s turn to chair the Council.
“The Reykjavik meeting will be the end point of Iceland’s successful Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. We have reached all the goals we set ourselves when we took over the Chairmanship, despite the extensive challenges posed by the pandemic. The fact that the Foreign Ministers of all the Member States will attend the meeting under these circumstances shows that the Council is standing strong on its 25th anniversary,” said Foreign Minister Thórdarson.
A number of bilateral meetings are planned alongside the Ministerial meeting. Today Minister Thórdarson met with United States Secretary of State, Mr. Antony Blinken, who arrived last night along with his entourage. Mr. Blinken will also meet with the Prime Minister and the President of Iceland today, and in the afternoon he and Foreign Minister Thórdarson will visit the Hellisheiði geothermal power plant and the Carbfix Project. Minister Thórdarson will also attend bilateral meetings with the Foreign Ministers of Canada, Finland, Sweden, Greenland and Russia in the following days.
The Arctic Council is composed of the Foreign Ministers of the eight Arctic States, the leaders of six associations of indigenous peoples in the Arctic region, representatives of the Council’s six working groups and its other functional units, as well as representatives of about 40 observers which are fairly evenly composed of States, international organisations and civil society organisations.
The heading of Iceland’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2019–2021, “Together Towards a Sustainable Arctic”, refers to the fact that the Council’s main tasks require cross-border cooperation. Four priority areas were highlighted during the Chairmanship: the marine environment, climate and green energy solutions, people and communities of the Arctic, and a stronger Arctic Council.
Photographs relating to the Ministerial meeting will be published on the Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ Flickr page.