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01.09.2011 00:17

The Murmansk region has lost the leading position in battle for the Arctic and soon may lose its independence

saamuThe question of unification of Murmansk and Arkhangelsk regions and Nenets Autonomous District is actively lobbed since the beginning of the new millennium. The purpose of unification is creating a new entity of the Federation. The question is being discussed with a letter from the scientists. The Murmansk Regional Duma deputies, the governor of Murmansk region, the administration heads of Arkhangelsk region and the Nenets Autonomous District, theirs legislatures, as well as the presidential envoy in the Northwestern Federal District were those who have received the above-mentioned letter.

The initiators of the project are Doctors of Philosophy, Economics and History from the city Arkhangelsk. The initiators by name are the general director of scientific and educational complex of the Arkhangelsk Technical University Alexander Dregalo, the director of the Institute of Management Northern State Medical University Nicholas Zalyvsky, the director of the Height School of Business Administration of Pomeranian Lomonosov University Yuri Lukin and the professor of the Institute of Management, Law and Skills Growth Sergey Shubin.

According to the authors’ opinion, "the unification of the three northern territories is not of political situation, it is the natural course of events." In addition, scientists believe Arkhangelsk and Murmansk regions, Nenets Autonomous District are northern Russian regions with a common historical destiny, similar climatic conditions, with a predominantly Russian population, similar economic structure and the same socio-demographic problems.

In 2009 the material «Mastering the Arctic, one has to take into consideration that Pomerania is a special region» has appeared. The material where the center of the Arctic was Arkhangelsk said: «If one looks at a map of Northern European Russia, he or she can notice that the largest city in circumpolar Arctic area - Archangel, the capital of Pomerania, is situated in the very heart of that vast region. Arkhangelsk, the city that has been playing the part of the first sea gates to Europe and the Arctic for centuries, has not lost its importance up till now». Moreover, we learn that «despite the past political and economic mistakes which have seriously weakened the Arkhangelsk region, it still performs its primary function – that is combining the potential of the northern regions of the Russian Federation. The unchanging creed of the Arkhangelsk region’s authorities is not of competition case but of the mutual reinforcement of economic subjects of the Northern region. The subjects include the Murmansk Region, Nenets Autonomous District and even the north of Norway». In addition, readers can learn the opinion of the Professor of Pomorski State University, the founder of scientific school "Regionologiya: Northern Regional Studies" Yuri Lukin: «... we’re facing the need to create a new Russian Arctic region that will include Arkhangelsk and Murmansk regions, Nenets Autonomous District and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District. That is the only way to form Arctic zone of Russia consisting of the new Arctic territory, as well as the Krasnoyarsk Territory, the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and Chukotka Autonomous District territories».

Everything, beginning from the history and ending with the space, has mixed up in the material. But the main thought of the letter was pointed out clearly: it is Arkhangelsk that has to become the center of the Arctic exploration. As we can see, this idea is actively being promoted in the mass consciousness.

Archangel has already attached Nenets
It should be noted that the question of unification of the Arkhangelsk Region and Nenets Autonomous District was discussed rather actively. Preliminary work, aimed at uniting, was launched on the level of regional authorities in December 2005 and had to be completed during 2006. However, in 2006 the process of unification had been frozen because of the large social and political risks. From 1 January 2008 a number of NAD authorities were passed to the Arkhangelsk region. In fact, to date there was no process of legal regions’ unification, but the regions already have the same budget.

For the process to be completed it is necessary to hold a referendum and all the procedures associated with the process.  There is a hope that these procedures will start in the near future: in the course of their conduction the Murmansk region can be grabbed as well. The prospects of the Murmansk region’s development were discussed in January 2010: the region was treated as subsidized; as for its future, it depended on the development of the Shtokman field and the Russian plans to develop the Northern Sea Route. According to the Rector Branch Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg, Alexander Hodachek, «if the real development of the Shtokman field begins, one will need both the Murmansk port and new hands and one will have to develop power in Murmansk. In general, the development of the Murmansk region depends on the plans of public-private oligopolies, that is Gazprom, RAO Railroad, the Federal Road Agency».

Taking into consideration working title of a new subject, one can see the following names appearing: Pomeranian region, Arkhangelsk region, the Northern Territory, the Arctic region. But wherever they write or discuss the unification of that kind, the only proposed regional center is Archangel.

The federal judge, doctor of history, Professor Yuri Shabaev, in his article published in April 2011 said that «according to our research, conducted in 2010 in Arkhangelsk , Syktyvkar, Murmansk, the majority of the population of northern regions supported the idea of ​​uniting the northern regions». To be honest, it would be interesting to see the study, because there are some doubts about the veracity of the statement.

Archangel is trying to monopolize the topic of the Arctic

On the basis of the North (Arctic) Federal University in Arkhangelsk the First Arctic Youth Summit «Road to the North» took place from 25 to 28 June this year. The summit brought together over 60 representatives of youth movements, organizations and academic communities of the Arctic countries.

The result of the First Arctic Youth Summit is the development and signing of its resolution that shows the young people’s views to the modern world, to the ways of solving the existing economic, political and cultural issues. As you know, the summit is one of those events that is actively organized and conducted by the Arkhangelsk region, but the purpose of the event is to dwell on the question of the Arctic. The II International Forum «The Arctic - the area of dialogue» will be hold in Arkhangelsk on the 21-24 of September this year. The organizers of the forum have managed to do something that the organizers of the forum in the Murmansk region could not do - Arkhangelsk forum gained the support in the face of top officials. I wonder whether the idea of ​​uniting the three entities under the wing of the Archangel will be announced during the forum. If not, the fact that the Archangel has actually took the topic of the Arctic, leaves to Murmansk virtually no chances to become the capital of the Arctic and the center of its development.

Counterattack of the Murmansk region
We must understand that with Murmansk region being inactive, the region will either become a part of the new Arctic region, or will be driven in the issues of Arctic exploration, picking up the crumbs from the table of a more active neighbor in the face of Arkhangelsk. But what are those steps that can be taken to pick up the Murmansk region’s chances? Surely, I am not an expert in these questions, but, nevertheless, I want to express some thoughts on the matter.

The steps of the Murmansk region to be done:
1. We have to continue lobbying the interests by leading the Arctic Murmansk World Economic Forum. At the same time we’re to focus on the international experts, and companies engaged in production of hydrocarbons, in the Arctic logistics, tourism in the northern regions and the fishing industry.

2. We have to conduct more active information campaign in the federal mass media. The campaigns of the following kind are in need: beginning with small promotions, such as "Snow Arctic Village", an invitation of bloggers leading the country, visits to the capital of the Arctic, creation sculptures on the Arctic theme, and ending with serious articles in major publications and television reports on the central channels.

3. We can use the worldwide Internet for the word «Arctic» to be associated in the minds of the audience in relation to Murmansk and the Murmansk region.

4. We can collaborate with the scientific community of the largest universities in the country in order to create a historical, cultural, linguistic binding of the Arctic theme to the Murmansk region by the form of scientific articles, discussions, forums, conferences with mandatory access to the international scientific community.

5. We can find allies on the territories of neighboring countries that would benefit from the Murmansk region acting as the center to the Arctic. Thus we can lobby the positioning of this format through them, that, by turn, will certainly be welcomed in Russia.

6. We can provide preferential treatments to big business, interested in the development of the Arctic. Thus, the business will begin to work actively in the region and it would be more expensive for it to leave the region.

7. We can drag the initiative to establish a major scientific center (even as Arctic University, in a format of combining the largest universities in the region and strengthening the financing those topics related to the Arctic).

U.S. prepares to fight for the Arctic
While the question of Arctic’s owner is under discussion in Russia, we are firmly convinced that this is our territory, the United States think another way. They are tensely waiting "... presentation of Russia's rights on the annexation that is approximately 380 000 square miles of Arctic territory; the territory has an international status." According to Julia Banders, the correspondent of the channel Fox News, «in the race which was attended by many countries for the right to own Arctic Ocean Russia has taken a leading position». In addition, from the channel news, it becomes clear that the U.S. compare the struggle for the Arctic with the lunar race, thus we can conclude they take the question seriously enough, because «... one-fourth of the world's hydrocarbon reserves, which remain intact, and rich fisheries are at stake. Moreover, a new sea route reducing the travel time from Asia to Europe was recently opened there».

The faster we will know the Russian territory acting as the center of the theme of Arctic exploration, the sooner we cease to pull the blanket from one side to another. And sooner we will have more power to work on foreign policy’s arena, where one can easily understand who is responsible for the Arctic and its capital in Russia.


By Dmitry Kachalov

Автор DNK

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