The Foreign Ministers of Iceland and Norway, Össur Skarphéðinsson and Jonas Gahr Støre, announced yesterday the establishment of a new professorship in the field of Arctic studies at the University of Akureyri. This is a part of a memorandum of understanding between the two countries on co-operation on Arctic scientific research, which was signed in Akureyri. The professorship will be named after the Norwegian Polar Explorer, Fridtjof Nansen, and is aimed at enhancing bilateral co-operation in Arctic Science. The MOU furthermore includes setting up funds for student exchange and workshops for Icelandic and Norwegian experts.
In a meeting prior to the signing, the ministers discussed Arctic and European issues, as the countries have numerous common interests. They discussed the realization of a recent Arctic Council agreement on Search and Rescue and the forthcoming agreement on marine oil spill prevention and reaction. The ministers agreed on the importance of as wide participation of stakeholders as possible, as it was in everyone‘s interests to ensure safe passage in the area and protection of the environment. Co-operation within the Arctic Council is of central importance, as it is a forum for governments and other stakeholders, and has been strengthened with increased co-operation and interest in the Arctic. The ministers agreed that co-operation between the states on arctic issues would undoubtedly increase significantly in the coming years.
Minister Støre and Skarphéðinsson discussed the co-operation within the European Economic Area and its importance for both states. The Icelandic foreign minister informed his Norwegian counterpart on the status of Iceland‘s accession negotiations with the European Union.