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Wednesday, 19 March 2014 09:34

Canada's Arctic Policy

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Canadians consider themselves northern nation. 50 - dollar bill , recently released into circulation by the Central Bank of Canada, shows icebreaker " Amundsen " , who is also a research vessel . North for centuries lived in the Canadian soul , says an official statement of the Government Prime Minister Harper on national " foreign policy in the Arctic." Its priority is to demonstrate the Canadian flag in the north and protection of state sovereignty .

The grounds of the Canadian north is equal to 84 squares Switzerland but live there only 110 thousand people. The country " maple leaf " has territorial disputes with the United States and Denmark , he believes it is not their concern for national security. But the problem is the melting of the polar ice caps , which introduces a new dynamic in the region.

New northern sea route in the foreseeable future will

Unlike Antarctica , the Arctic is not a continent , and , in fact, part of the Arctic Ocean. A significant part of it - the "eternal" ice, however, according to climate scientists , global warming is the extreme north is much stronger than at lower latitudes . Therefore, in recent years the surface area of ice has decreased by several times and reached its absolute minimum on record . This led to the fact that the surface area of water, which , in turn, in the future there may be new sea routes for shipping, and you may be opportunities for mining in the polar regions.

However, that soon there will be opportunities for free movement in the Arctic can not count. Even if the climate in the far north will become softer conditions there remain very severe, and no economic activity will not be profitable. Mythical Northwest Passage will not turn into an instant ice- free in the shortest and cheapest way between Asia and Europe . Moreover , this should not become a kind permanent route , and will be a great many " paths " between numerous islands in northern Canada . It will connect the northern part of the Atlantic (West Greenland ) from the Beaufort Sea and the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia , which offers access to the Pacific Ocean .

Even in the most favorable case, the navigation on the North- Western path will be possible only for a few months a year, and the captains would have in any case to prepare for a meeting with the ice . In this case they would have to choose shallow ocean areas from which, however , this path would be closed to large ships . Furthermore, in these regions will not have ports and , where they could come in emergency situations. According to the Canadian Navy , the path length , which can meet the ice is about 5.5 thousand kilometers.

In September last year Danish vessel Nordic Orion, cargo ship with reinforced hull , successfully overcame the Northwest Passage between Vancouver and Finland. It was one of the first purely commercial flights on this route . Usually ships depart from Vancouver to the south - to the Panama Canal , and only from there across the Atlantic to Europe. This way, however , it takes a week longer.

Compared with the Northwest , the Northern Sea Route along the coast of Russia to overcome easily. In addition, Russian is much better prepared for shipping in the Arctic than Canada and the United States . They have powerful , including nuclear , icebreakers , whose number is constantly growing. Canadian Navy operate in the so-called " concept of two oceans" - the Atlantic and Pacific . The Arctic Ocean is the third ocean coast which is two-thirds of the Canadian coastline.

Canadian Coast Guard has , on its own data , 18 icebreakers . However, only two of them - really big ships , and four - a medium-sized ships . All the rest - it's just a multipurpose court , having limited ability to overcome the ice. Harper many years ago played for the modernization of the Canadian Arctic fleet and increase it to eight units. However, this plan is implemented after a long delay - primarily because of insufficient funding . According to the Harper government " integrated " development plan for the Arctic fleet into their overall shipbuilding policy.

Law of the sea as a starting point

Eight Arctic states cooperate within the framework of the Arctic Council . Five of them - members of NATO. The Arctic Council is working on the principle of consensus and has no function of the supreme authority. Canadian Prime Minister Harper takes every opportunity to criticize the idea of internationalization of the Arctic to the Antarctic example . According to him , Canada would never support this initiative . Arctic Council granted observer status to 12 States . These include , for example , India - on the grounds that climate change at the North Pole affect the monsoons . In addition, observers in the Arctic Council are representatives of the indigenous population of the far north . However, Harper is strongly opposed " blurring " of the boundaries between the countries - members of the Board entitled to vote , and just observers. To observers also relates China , a growing interest in the Arctic is of great concern to Canada.

However, claims Canada's far north part is questionable . This applies, however, the land and a water surface , which finds its Ottawa territorial waters . It is largely about the legal issues in transit traffic , and not a claim of ownership of these or other territories . U.S. considers the Northwest Passage as an international route . Canadians do not accept such an interpretation - at least because at the moment there is no serious international shipping .

Both countries claim with the Convention on the Law of the Sea . However, the United States, unlike Canada , has not yet ratified the international agreement remains the only Arctic country did not. Nevertheless, the Obama administration officially announced compliance with the Convention on the Law of the Sea . Within the Arctic strategy Obama announced the need to join to this document, but it is possible only in theory, because the Senate in the foreseeable future will not vote for it.

However, the differences between Americans and Canadians in matters of transit rights pales against the backdrop of common interests of both countries to NATO's military security. Reduction of the ice surface is potentially new opportunities for access to their territory illegal immigrants and terrorists. Russia's representative to the Arctic Council, Anton Vasilyev said recently , according to state radio " Voice of Russia" that the Russian Arctic coast a total length of 20,000 kilometers was until recently quite well protected by powerful ice and harsh climate. However, in recent years the situation has changed , and therefore strengthening Putin announced Russia's military presence in the far north is not a militarization of the Arctic , but only a step to meet the new requirements of time. In this regard, Vasiliev pointed to the growing intensity of shipping and oil and gas production in the far north . According to him, in both aspects only army capable of protecting the environment, and, if necessary - to serve as a rescue service. Canada pursues similar goals .

Between Ottawa and Moscow there are many differences, including the assessment of recent developments in Ukraine. But their cooperation in the Arctic , according to the Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird , carried out quite successfully. Moreover, both countries pursue at least one same goal: to turn the North Pole in their own territory . Russian in 2007 have already established there own a titanium flag on the seabed. Canadians have recently expressed their claim to the North Pole to the UN. Their actions correspond to the procedure under the Convention on the Law of the Sea . For Americans, the non-participation in this document has negative consequences : they can not legitimize their own claims to the Arctic this way.

Emergency War for the North Pole to expect , however, is not necessary. The Norwegian Ministry of Defence , for example, pointed out in his latest report on national security that the Arctic countries are set to resolve differences within the framework of international organizations. In addition, most of the alleged minerals is in the exclusive economic zones of various Arctic nations , protected by the Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Maximum possible claims

The debate about the claims of ownership the North Pole in the UN or in bilateral negotiations will take a lot of time . According to Canadian media , Harper last minute insisted to include the North Pole to the list of marine areas claimed by Ottawa . In accordance with the law of the sea , the claim may be based on geological factors , such as the location of the continental cap. However, data provided by the Canadian experts did not indicate clearly that the North Pole is located on Canadian soil . Harper just wanted to place on record the maximum possible territorial claims in Canada .

Although the Arctic is a good reason for the nationalists to practice in terms of their demands , Canada justifies its claim to ownership of all the northern waters of the fact that at its current territory (both on land and at sea ) is home to northern aboriginal population . Official " Arctic policy" Harper government provides not only protection of the environment in the far north , but also protection of indigenous culture , and use their knowledge to modern development.

Experts Canadian- American Institute at the University of Western Ontario see Harper in politics - as well as all the other Arctic states - a fundamental contradiction . The Institute is engaged in a wide range of Canadian- American relations. One of the reports Elizabeth Riddell - Dixon (Elizabeth Riddell-Dixon) wrote that new challenges and dangers in the far north linked to climate change and thus with minerals . But in the first place in the justification of the need to have the North Pole on its own territory are just natural resources.

Potentially huge reserves of minerals

Although in many different areas of the Arctic mining has long been started, in general there the magnitude of resources is no clarity . Best open source on this subject is published in the 2008 report of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), funded by the government , according to which the territory above the Arctic Circle (66 degrees north latitude ) contains reserves of 90 billion barrels of oil , about 47 billion cubic meters of gas and 44 billion barrels of gas condensate. These reserves are contained in a total of 25 different fields. It is estimated that 134 billion barrels of oil and gas condensate can fully cover the needs of the world (about 90 million barrels per day) for four years. However, according to the report USGS, more than half of the estimated reserves of oil and more than 70 % of gas reserves are contained in only three fields.

On one of the most important fields ( Arctic Alaska ) long snake production is underway. So, at Prudhoe Bay actively producing oil that is transported from there to the south along the built in 1977 pipeline . 84% of alleged experts USGS polar resources are at the bottom of the ocean. However, according to the service in the past when assessing the volumes of these resources does not take into account any water depth or thickness of the polar ice caps . At that time it was believed that the alleged polar resources are on average 22 % of total reserves on the planet, 13% oil , 30 % gas and 20 % of gas condensate .

Source: http://inosmi.ru/world/20140317/218665049.html

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