HELSINKI – The 11th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting concluding in Rovaniemi, northern Finland, on Tuesday failed to formulate a customary joint declaration due to disparities.
It was the first time the meeting has not issued a declaration which would also act as a guideline for the next chairing country. As the meeting convened on Tuesday morning, the presiding Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini entered a change in the agenda and deleted the item about a would-be joint declaration.
Instead of a joint declaration, the ministers signed on a joint statement, which reaffirmed the commitment to maintaining peace, stability and constructive cooperation in the Arctic, but did not mention the climate change issue.
The joint statement emphasized the role of the Arctic States in providing leadership in addressing new opportunities and challenges in the Arctic, working in close cooperation with the Permanent Participants.
The draft of the joint statement was ready only before the meeting started on Tuesday morning, Soini told reporters. The statement was signed by all the eight foreign ministers during the session.
Timo Koivurova, director of the Arctic Center at the University of Lapland, expressed his disappointment that the meeting concluded without a declaration. He told national broadcaster Yle that the United States remained alone in the meeting in opposing the concept of climate change.
Harri Mikkola, a researcher at the Finnish Institute for International Affairs, told Helsingin Sanomat, a national newspaper, that the non-issuance of a declaration is an embarrassing end to the Finnish tenure as a chairman. “But the forces that lead to this are outside the hands of Finland,” he said.