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Ritva Hautanen, Arctic officer with the Department of Europe at the Finland Ministry of Foreign Affairs, asks a question during the European Security Seminar – North held at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies from July 9 to 13. (DOD photo by Sgt. Richard Gerszewski)

By Christine June
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (July 16, 2018) – The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies executed its first program to understand the geostrategic importance and key issues of the Arctic.

The first European Security Seminar – North took place here from July 9 to 13 and concentrated on the risks and opportunities for Europe and North America in the Arctic.

“The Arctic is of high-relevance for global security,” said German Navy Cmdr. Andreas Hildenbrand, ESS-N program director. “First of all, the level of resources in the Arctic will get more and more relevant when resources in other areas diminish.”

Hildenbrand said ESS-N was specifically designed to analyse the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats in the Arctic and discuss the Arctic maritime environment from different players’ perspectives.

“We want to provide our customers and stakeholders with an opportunity to discuss emerging challenges in the Artic region and assess their impact on European and North American security,” said retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Keith W. Dayton, Marshall Center’s director.

The Marshall Center has been working for about two years to develop this new program to address these Arctic security challenges based on stakeholder guidance from the U.S. Department of Defense and the German Ministry of Defense, said Hildenbrand.

“I was looking at a wide area of expertise from all sides of the key issues to be able to discuss the economic, environmental, military, legal and political concerns related to the Arctic,” Hildenbrand said.

Currently, it is planned to have a series of five ESS-North events in the next five years, said Hildenbrand.

This one-week seminar on the Arctic is embedded into the series of Marshall Center’s European Security Seminars, which consists of ESS-South, ESS-East, and now, ESS-North.

“The ESS-North primarily looks at the Arctic, and in the broader sense, it also looks into the Baltic Sea Region,” Dayton said.

This seminar brought together 38 security practitioners and academics from 11 countries to build a common understanding of the new dynamics in the Arctic and to develop recommendations to address the current situation, opportunities and risks.

“The Arctic is a very important topic, especially when we are thinking of future global challenges like climate change,” said Ritva Hautanen, Arctic officer with the Department of Europe at the Finland Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “I think it’s very important to look into these future challenges from different perspectives and that is exactly what the Marshall Center is doing with this program.”

Hildenbrand said the Marshall Center, in organizing this first seminar on the Arctic, wanted to develop a wider framework of cooperation and strategic recommendations for these future security challenges in the Arctic Region. He said that the participants and speakers were selected based on diversity in background, age and gender.

“The aim was to have an open discussions from diverse viewpoints to achieve strategic recommendations for our stakeholders,” Hildenbrand said. “I was aiming at speakers on the strategic level or with a specific knowledge relevant for the foreseen discussions.”

Hautanen said that the seminar was a perfect setup for open discussions.

“What is really important is that we had a really good variety of countries, and professional backgrounds and knowledge from participants and speakers,” she said. “This was very fruitful in understanding the changes in the Arctic in a cooperative manner.”