Arkhangelsk: Finland promises to lift Arctic cooperation to a new level when they take over the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. The delimitation treaty between Norway and Russia is held up as a model when Finland launches the slogan "Exploring Common Solutions". And President Putin promises to come if he is invited to a summit together with Donald Trump.
These were some of the results from Thursday's exclusive summit between three presidents in Arkhangelsk.
First on the lectern, host and main attraction: the Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Then Finland's president Sauli Niinistö.
And finally, Iceland's president Gudni Johannesson.
Conflicts put aside
The conflicts were put aside to the extent that even ongoing sanctions against Russia and claims of aggressive military activity in the Arctic did not create any major discussion between the three presidents.
The event took place in a fully occupied Lomonosov Arkhangelsk Drama Theatre, an arena especially Putin mastered in full.
Among the audience were amongst others the American Ambassador and Norway's Foreign Minister Børge Brende. Brende left the meeting before the conversations between the three presidents was over.
Russia militarily superior
An in Norway's absence, at least on stage, it was noted that first Finland's president and later Vladimir Putin, pointed out the delineation treaty with Norway as an example of how negotiations in the Arctic are to be conducted.
- Norway and Russia solved this in a way that was useful for both parties, president Putin said, and added:
- Norway is a small country with significantly smaller military resources than Russia. However, Russia has never used power to force its will through. Norway is a lot smaller than Russia and our military forces cannot be compared. But military might shall not decide disagreements. Questions must be resolved in the open. Injustice and disagreement should be solved with the assistance of the UN, the Russian President said.
Arctic battle for a summit
The debate also revealed that there is a kind of soft power battle going on in the Arctic chasing the first political summit between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to take place there.
Finland, which takes over the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council in May, wants to use this position to organize a summit.
Iceland, however, has the same desire related to its annual Arctic Circle conference. Iceland has had such ambitions for years, however, the last attempts have stranded based on the conflict related to Ukraine.
- We would be most satisfied with getting the opportunity to host such a summit. However, for such a summit to take place, there must be something to say and discuss. We will follow developments now, in order to see if we can find some share goals, said Finland's president Sauli Niinistö.
- With such a summit we want to demonstrate that we stand by our promise that the Arctic shall be a territory of dialogue, and that this tradition still applies in the North. We want to direct attention towards constructive cooperation between the Arctic stakeholders and think it is time to elevate the Arctic cooperation to a new level, he added.
Putin will come
Vladimir Putin followed up on the Finnish invitation, however, he also emphasized the importance of good preparations both in the east and in the west.
- If there is such a meeting I will be prepared and ready to participate, Vladimir Putin said.
The discussion about a summit between East and West demonstrateds how actors on both sides of the conflict lines wish to make the Arctic and open window for contact and negotiations.
It is also a doubtless point that after Finland's chairing the Arctic Council for the nest two years, it will be Iceland taking over, and then Russia.