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Arctic should remain an area of cooperation, not conflict, says MEP

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Arctic should remain an area of cooperation, not conflict, says MEP
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The Arctic must remain an area of cooperation between countries rather than a point of conflict, an MEP has told Euronews.

Hydrocarbons, rare earth metals and new maritime routes made accessible by climate change are leading key global players to place more focus on the region.

The European Union's Arctic policy has so far been based upon three pillars: climate protection, sustainable development and cooperation.

But with Russia building its military presence in the region, David McAllister MEP, chair of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee, said that we must maintain a focus on cooperation.

"One of the issues could also be where can the EU and NATO cooperate more closely," he said. "We all know what's at stake, but one thing is extremely important - especially in these times of geopolitical rivalry - let's try to maintain that the Arctic is a place where major powers can cooperate to the benefit of the people, the environment and, in the end, the whole world."

China is now entering the field, with millions of euros in investment, which Jon Rahbek-Clemmensen, an associate professor at the Royal Danish Defence College, says creates problems for the EU.

"If the EU wants to somehow gain a role for itself, it has to now avoid being lumped together with China which is seen as a very aggressive non-Arctic entity. So, China's way of trying to force itself into the region has complicated matters for the EU," Rahbek-Clemmensen explained.

He also warned that Europe must not try to compete at the same level as the US and Russia in the region.

"I think that if the EU believes it can gain the same status as the US or Russia [in the Arctic] then it will face some pretty difficult obstacles."

Brussels says it will launch further discussions soon to meet the new challenges of the Arctic.