The Icelandic government has formally protested a meeting of five member states of the Arctic Council, which is scheduled to take place in Canada this March, whithout the participation of Iceland, Sweden and Finland, who also sit in the Council. Iceland believes that no difference should be made between the memer states of the Arctic Council and that the exclusion of some undermines the importance of the Council. A protest has been lodged with all five governments participating in the meeting.
The Government of Canada will host a meeting of Foreign Ministers of the five Arctic Coastal States (Russia, Denmark (Greenland), Norway and the United States) prior to the G8 meeting in Gatineau, Quebec on 29-30 March. This is the second time these five nations meet outside the Arctic Council fora, the first meeting took place in Greenland in summer 2008, under protest from Iceland, Sweden and Finland, as they were not invited.
The Arctic Council has a strong global position as a forum for an active and open dialogue between different Arctic stakeholders, including among others representatives of indigenous peoples. Iceland has vested interests in the Arctic Ocean as a coastal state whose livelihood is based on the sustainable exploitation of marine resources. The waters surrounding Iceland are interlinked with the Arctic Ocean via currents and migrating fish stocks. All decisions on issues concerning the Arctic Ocean can therefore directly influence the livelihood and security of Icelanders.