The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland posted an article titled, “Speech by Minister Soini at the opening ceremony of Finland’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council.” The article reads in part as follows;
“Finland started its Chairmanship of the Arctic Council a week ago in Fairbanks, Alaska. The Chairman’s gavel was handed over to me by the US Secretary of State, Mr Rex Tillerson. I felt honoured to accept this responsibility on behalf of my country. On the way back, my main thought was that this is a great opportunity to strengthen Finland’s international position—to work together with countries that are important to us and to contribute to the advancement of globally important issues. This is a job quite suitable for the 100-year-old Finland.
As we have seen in the media, last week’s meeting involved a little drama as well. The joint declaration wasn’t drafted until the very last minute. One reason for this was the United States’ hesitancy as to whether it should support the Arctic Council’s climate work given that its own climate policy is only starting to take shape. However, in my view, we were able to reach quite a good result in the end. The Fairbanks Declaration deals with the issues that are necessary for the Council to continue its work.
For Finland, it was also of the utmost importance that a jointly accepted declaration was made as the basis for our Chairmanship.
It is good to bear in mind that the Arctic Council is a unique forum for cooperation. Finland and the other Nordic countries work in partnership with Russia, the United States and Canada. Permanent participants include six indigenous peoples’ organisations, among them the Saami Council. This is a good composition, and the Member States and indigenous peoples can discuss difficult issues concerning the Arctic. At Fairbanks, I could see that the growing international tension has not affected Arctic cooperation. Constructive cooperation will continue under Finland’s Chairmanship.
I believe it is important and positive that interest in Arctic cooperation has increased. The Council now has 13 Observer States—Switzerland is the most recent to join—as well as numerous observer organisations, including the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). And even more would like to join.”