Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 202

202 Arctic Yearbook 2015 North America (Nielsson 2014; Eyþórsson & Hovgaard 2013). It is pertinent to add that the political, economic, and sociocultural ties between the other Nordic countries and Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands gradually unraveled in the post-war period, which at once generated aspirations among them to play a more independent, self-representing role, perhaps not yet on a fully international level, but at least insofar as Nordic cooperation was concerned. One argument that supports this assessment is the agreement signed between the Nordic Council and the West Nordic Council on the terms of cooperation between these two assemblies (Nordic Council 2006); other authors point out the reluctance and distrust of these countries towards the European Union (Bailes 2014). In 1997, the Council was renamed the West Nordic Council, its statute was revamped and expanded, and the mechanisms of cooperation were extended from just the sociocultural to the political and economic spheres (Nielsson 2014). Today, the West Nordic Council encapsulates its objectives in five points: (1) to promote West Nordic (or North Atlantic) interests; (2) to protect and preserve the resources and culture of the North Atlantic and support West Nordic governments in promoting their interests, beyond such vital concerns as resource management and pollution; (3) to sustain and expand West Nordic intergovernmental cooperation; (4) to cooperate with the Nordic Council and act as an intermediary in overall Nordic cooperation; and (5) to act as a parliamentary intermediary for other West Nordic organizations, participating in parliamentary cooperation across the Arctic region (West Nordic Council 2015). The Council is made up of 18 members (6 delegates from each country), and its focus and direction are indicated by a three-member presidium augmented by the Council secretariat, based in Reykjavik. The West Nordic Council convenes twice a year – once for a general plenary session, which elects the presidium for a one-year term, and once for a special session dedicated to a topic considered important to the interests of the West Nordic community. These assemblies typically produce joint recommendations, which are then conveyed to the parliaments of the three member states for discussion, and eventually find their way to the governments of each. Nielsson points out that the recommendations made by the West Nordic Council in recent years have touched on a variety of issues, though many of them had a distinct Arctic dimension, e.g. issues of resources and transportation, environmental protection, or international relations (Nielsson 2014). The issue of greater participation in cooperation on matters pertaining to the Arctic was taken up by the West Nordic Council relatively late, namely at in the early 2010s (Hovgaard & Eythórsson 2013). In 2012, following a scientific conference on the geopolitical conditions surrounding West Nordic cooperation, the Council adopted a resolution that encouraged the governments of the three countries to promote cooperation in matters of the Arctic as well as evaluate the possibility of designing a common Arctic strategy. Several months later, during the Council’s session in Narsarsuag, Greenland, the parliamentarians decided to prepare a tentative analysis of this issue. The conclusions were as follows: (1) a common West Nordic Arctic policy would strengthen regional cooperation and bolster the West Nordic state >(