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Cablegate: Helsinki Hosts Scpar While Parliament Pushes For

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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHHE #0440/01 3281459
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 241459Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5292
INFO RUEHCP/AMEMBASSY COPENHAGEN 4157
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 5020
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 4756
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 0721
RUEHRK/AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK 0339
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 8682
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

UNCLAS HELSINKI 000440

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR OES/OA JGOURLEY AND PCUNNINGHAM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EWWT FI PHSA PREL SENV
SUBJECT: HELSINKI HOSTS SCPAR WHILE PARLIAMENT PUSHES FOR
COMPREHENSIVE ARCTIC STRATEGY

REF: HELSINKI 337

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In separate but nearly simultaneous events
November 18-19 in Helsinki, the Standing Committee of
Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region (SCPAR) held a workshop
and meeting and the Finnish Parliament held a plenary session
to which called for a comprehensive national Arctic Strategy.
The SCPAR workshop focused on the UN Convention on the Law
of the Sea (UNCLOS), delineation of the continental shelf in
the Arctic, and protection of fishery stocks. The
parliamentary plenary produced a strong consensus backing the
government's development of an Arctic strategy which would
take account of the need to combat or mitigate climate
change, the increasing exploitation of energy resources, and
the possibilities of developing new sea and land
transportation corridors. END SUMMARY.

-----------------------------------
SCPAR DISCUSSES UNCLOS, ENVIRONMENT
-----------------------------------

2. (SBU) On November 18-19 the Standing Committee of
Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region (SCPAR) held a workshop
and meeting in Helsinki hosted by Finnish MP Hannes Manninen
(Center). 35 parliamentarians, representatives of indigenous
peoples, staff members, and invited experts participated.
Poloff informally represented the U.S. in the absence of
Senator Murkowski who was unable to attend. All other
members of the Arctic Council had parliamentarians present.
Those of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden were the most active,
the Russian and Canadian representatives less so.

3. (SBU) Manninen, recently returned from a U.S. visit along
with other members of Parliament's foreign affairs committee,
opened the meeting with a glowing report on his discussions
with U.S. Congressmen, State Dept. officials, and others in
the U.S. He was especially encouraged by what he heard
regarding U.S. ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Law
of the Sea (UNCLOS), a perennial topic for SCPAR. It seemed
likely that the U.S. Senate would debate and vote on UNCLOS
"as soon as January," Manninen revealed. In his opening
remarks, Manninen also went out of his way to emphasize the
primacy of the Arctic Council as "the central forum for
discussion and cooperation" regarding the Arctic, while
recognizing that there might be subgroups, such as the
coastal states, which might have a supporting role.

4. (U) During the workshop on UNCLOS, attendees received
briefings from several technical experts about the
delineation of the continental shelf, the location and
composition of energy resources there, and the protection of
wildlife in the Arctic. Among the presenters were Harald
Brekke, a member of the UN Commission on the Limits of the
Continental Shelf, and Tatiana Saksina, Arctic Governance
Officer for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The latter
advocated for a regional seas agreement to provide legally
binding regulation of human activity in the Arctic, something
which WWF sees as especially necessary to ensure that
commercial vessels meet minimal standards regarding their
crew, equipment, and ballast water treatment. When asked,
she cited the Mediterranean and Caspian Sea agreements as
examples of modern and effective regional sea agreements and
recommended against an additional protocol to UNCLOS to
regulate the Arctic Ocean as unnecessarily difficult. Only
the five coastal states would be needed to reach a regional
seas agreement while over 160 would be involved in
negotiating an additional protocol to UNCLOS. Saksina also
reported that the WWF would release a proposal to cover gaps
in fishery management next year. The WWF sees the fishery
protocol to UNCLOS as insufficient since it only protects
straddling or highly migratory stocks and has published a
study to support this, according to Saksina.

---------------
NEW FINNISH SAO
---------------

5. (U) The SCPAR meeting also provided newly appointed
Finnish Ambassador at large for Arctic Affairs Hannu Halinen
a chance to introduce himself. Halinen, now Finland's Senior
Arctic Official, remarked that he hoped his prior experience
working in the Council of Baltic Sea States in Stockholm for
three years would provide a good background for working with

the Arctic Council. His most recent posting was as
Ambassador to Egypt and the Sudan.

--------------------------------------------- -----
PARLIAMENT CALLS FOR COMPREHENSIVE ARCTIC STRATEGY
--------------------------------------------- -----

6. (U) Also on November 18, the Finnish Parliament held a
plenary session on Arctic Policy. In a strong display of
cross-party unity, some thirty five MPs spoke on the issue,
nearly all of which strongly supported FM Stubb's call for a
comprehensive Arctic strategy for Finland. He and
Development Minister Vayrynen have been publicly discussing
the need for such a strategy over the last few months, and
such Stubb's line was foreshadowed in an earlier speech made
at the Arctic Center in Rovaniemi in September. He has
consistently called for Finland to focus on Arctic based on
three imperatives: the need to combat or mitigate climate
change, the increasing exploitation of energy resources, and
the possibilities of developing new sea and land
transportation corridors.

7. (U) Foreign Affairs Committee chair Pertti Salolainen
(NCP) opened the hearing by noting the great interest in
Washington in Finland's Arctic policy based on the
committee's recent visit. He announced that he would be
sharing the committee's report with the U.S. as soon as it
was translated. Salolainen passed the floor to Stubb who
outlined what Finland's Arctic Strategy would need to do:
define opportunities, challenges, and goals; set guidelines
for international cooperation; define the basis for Finland's
EU policy regarding the Arctic; and create a national
mechanism for preparation and monitoring policy execution.

8. (SBU) Stubb's presentation and the committee's report
garnered consensus support from among all parties during the
session, with Left Alliance MPs explicitly endorsing Stubb's
views. Green and Left Alliance MPs placed a stronger
emphasis on protecting the environment but did not disagree
with the need to pursue economic development opportunities in
the Arctic. Some MPs expressed concern that military
activities might increase in the Arctic as competition for
resources intensifies. Observer status for the EU within the
Arctic Council was discussed with no consensus emerging.

9. (SBU) COMMENT: Finnish officials, most notably Stubb in
his Rovaniemi speech, have publicly called for greater EU
involvement in the Arctic, pointing towards its considerable
budget which could fund scientific research as well as
economic development. In private (see reftel), some
officials have expressed concern about the potential
influence of large non-Arctic EU members on the political
dynamic of the Arctic Council. END COMMENT

-------------------------------
THE WAY AHEAD; WASHINGTON VISIT
-------------------------------

10. (SBU) The way ahead on development of the Arctic Strategy
will include the preparation of an interagency white paper
under leadership of the PM's office and the MFA and the
appointment of a committee for Arctic issues including senior
GOF officials, academic experts, and representatives of
indigenous people (Sami). The white paper could be completed
in six to eight months.

11. (SBU) Post understands that PM Vanhanen's chief of staff
Risto Volanen and diplomatic advisor Esko Hamilo are seeking
meetings on Arctic security during a visit to Washington in
early December. This will provide an early opportunity to
influence GOF thinking on its new Arctic strategy.
ORECK

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