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Merkel promises to upgrade Arctic policy for closer ties

Merkel promises to upgrade Arctic policy for closer ties

Reykjavik, Aug 21: Widening cooperation between the five Nordic countries and Germany was highlighted in Reykjavik, Iceland, on Tuesday. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was invited to join a regular meeting of the five Nordic prime ministers, reports Xinhua. Merkel attended a press conference televised on Icelandic public broadcaster RUV. She said the German government will formulate a new Arctic policy within the next few weeks. Merkel said she had to admit Germany has not paid in recent years enough attention to the strategic development of the Arctic area. She noted that Germany is an observer in the Arctic Council while the five Nordics are actual members. "Germany has so far been involved mainly in research projects, but will in the future observe the strategic importance of the area." She said it should be developed in the spirit of multilateralism. The vista of Nordic-Germany cooperation was praised in high key wordings by all the five Nordic prime ministers. Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said the "Nordic family" had now been enlarged. Solberg said she was sure that good platforms will be found for this cooperation. Solberg mentioned as a key challenge in the future to ensure the the Nordic welfare societies are capable of dealing with the climate change and sustainability. Danish Prime Minister Mette Fredriksen said the Nordic countries and Germany share the same values. She said all the five Nordics want to increase cooperation with Germany. Icelandic Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir underlined the importance of the shared values such as social justice, human rights and gender equality. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said it is essential that the Nordic countries widen their cooperation with Germany. "We are closely linked; we have to cooperate on the political level and with our businesses." Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne said he had got support from the other three EU member countries present at the meeting for the use of the multi-annual financial framework of the EU "for making the union better". He mentioned the rule of law, climate issues and immigration policy. The meeting mainly focused on climate issues, but Merkel mentioned also stronger innovation and fight for democracy and multilateralism. Merkel added that the cooperation is not directed against anyone. For the Nordics-Germany cooperation, a non-specified platform will be created. Exchanges will cover mainly climate issues, but also political and economic matters. The Nordic governments and parliaments maintain a large secretariat in Copenhagen for implementation of various joint projects and matching legislation. It was not immediately clear in Reykjavik whether Germany would work through the secretariat as well. The Nordic prime ministers meet several times per year. The cooperation dates back to the 1950s before the establishment of the European Union. Of the five, Finland, Sweden and Denmark belong to the EU while Iceland and Norway do not. Representatives of the three autonomous areas within the Nordics, namely Greenland, Aaland island and the Faroe Islands, attended the meeting as well. Premier of Greenland Kim Kielsen spoke strongly against the intention of the U.S. President Donald Trump to purchase Greenland. "This is in no way amusing," he told journalists. He added though that it is positive that outside interest in Greenland has increased, also on commercial basis. Greenland is an autonomous area of Denmark. On Tuesday morning, the five Nordic prime ministers signed a climate policy declaration with 14 Nordic corporations. The document is a continuation to the declaration of prime ministers given in January in Helsinki.

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