Washington, DC (KINY) - U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski recently hosted leaders from five Arctic nations in Washington, DC, as part of a conference of the Standing Committee of Arctic Parliamentarians (SCPAR). Murkowski, who serves as Vice Chair of SCPAR, helped lead discussions on Arctic policy and the future of the Arctic Council—whose Chairship will transition from Russia to Norway this week.
Senator Murkowski and parliamentary representatives from Canada, Denmark/Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, as well as Indigenous representatives from Aleut International Association, Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwich’in Council International, Inuit Circumpolar Council, and the Saami Council, met at the U.S. Capitol, the Norwegian Embassy, and the Danish Embassy.
In a floor statement delivered Tuesday, Senator Murkowski described the role of SCPAR, recapped the recent meeting in Washington, DC, and discussed opportunities and challenges in the Far North.
"We have opportunities to come together as Arctic nations and work on the common challenges, shared opportunities, and we had such an opportunity just a couple weeks back when here in Washington, D.C," Senator Murkowski said. "...As we think about the Arctic Council, I think it's also important to recognize that the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region is also a body that is quite important. It facilitates a biennial gathering of representatives from the various parliaments and legislatures of the eight Arctic nations."
Senator Murkowski also advocated for icebreakers.
"We have authorized now six icebreakers. We have fully funded two. We're pushing hard to advance commercially available icebreaker. My hope is that we will get that resolved this year," she said. "Coast Guard is committed to it. The administration is committed to it. We're all in. And we need it."
She also pushed for the swift confirmation of Dr. Mike Sfraga, an Alaskan who has been nominated to serve as the first-ever U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for the Arctic Region.
"We've also convinced state department to establish an ambassador at large for the Arctic region. As many, many countries already have done. So the president has nominated a great guy," she said. "He's a fellow Alaskan, Dr. Mike Sfraga to be the first person to hold this position."
Above: Senator Murkowski serves as Vice Chairman of SCPAR and is pictured here alongside the Chair of the SCPAR, Aaja Chemnitz Larsen of Greenland, Member of the Danish Parliament. (Photo courtesy of Murkowski's press office)
"The famous General Billy Mitchell in 1935 said, ‘I believe that in the future, whoever holds Alaska will hold the world. I think it is the most important strategic place in the world.’ Billy Mitchell said that in 1935, and I think it's fair to say that the future has arrived, because General Mitchell is absolutely right," Senator Murkowski stated. "Alaska is the most strategic place because of our location, because we are part of an Arctic nation, and because we're sitting right on top of the world. We're in the center of it. We're oftentimes on the front line of our nation's sovereignty and defense."