Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, Mr Niinisto, Mr Johannesson, I wholeheartedly welcome all of you to Russia, to Arkhangelsk. It is the second time that Arkhangelsk is hosting The Arctic: Territory of Dialogue international forum. This is symbolic, because Arkhangelsk is closely connected with the events and individuals that have opened the polar latitudes to the world. We will mark one of such “polar” events this year. I am referring to the 85th anniversary of the famous Otto Schmidt expedition, which for the first time covered the route from the port of Arkhangelsk to the Pacific Ocean within one navigation season, launching regular navigation along the coast of Siberia, the legendary Northern Sea Route. The importance of the Arctic has increased manifold. The attention of many nations is focused on the Arctic as a region whose wellbeing determines the global climate, a treasure trove of unique nature and, of course, a region with a huge economic potential and opportunities. Preserving the Arctic as a territory of constructive dialogue, development and equal cooperation is a matter of fundamental importance. This forum, whose theme this year is People and the Arctic, has a great role to play in this. The forum has brought together respected academics, business leaders and politicians and has become a venue for serious professional discussions of the current situation and the future of the Arctic, as we hoped it would. The forum is important for promoting different forms of Arctic partnership. Your expert views and initiatives are also taken into account at the Arctic Council, which has over the past 20 years served as an example of effective international cooperation that continues unabated by external change. Russia, which accounts for approximately a third of the Arctic zone, is aware of its special responsibility for this territory. We aim to ensure its sustainable development, create a modern infrastructure, develop natural resources, strengthen the industrial potential, improve the quality of life for the indigenous Northern people, maintain their unique culture and traditions and provide government assistance towards these goals. However, these goals must not be viewed separately from the task of preserving the biological diversity and the fragile ecosystems of the Arctic. It is gratifying that the protection of the Arctic environment is a key priority of international cooperation in this region, including research cooperation. I would like to remind you of one more important date in Arctic history: the 80th anniversary of the Soviet drifting ice station North Pole. Its traditions have been taken up by the Russian drift station Barneo, which is home to researchers from around the world. Academic cooperation and the exchange of experience and programmes are extremely important, considering the large-scale plans for the development of this region, particularly within large international projects. A recent positive example is the Yamal LNG project, which is being implemented by seven countries. Russia believes that there is no potential for conflict in the Arctic. International law clearly specifies the rights of littoral and other states and provides a firm foundation for cooperation in addressing various issues, including such sensitive ones as the delimitation of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean and the prevention of unregulated high seas fishing in the Central Arctic Ocean, which is surrounded by the exclusive economic zones of the United States, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Russia. I would like to reiterate that Russia is open to constructive cooperation and does its utmost to create a proper environment for its effective development. We have drafted a fairly extensive economic programme for the Arctic designed for many years to come. It already includes over 150 projects with investments estimated at trillions of rubles. First, we will support the initiatives that have a multiplier effect for the Arctic regions and our country in general, including public-private partnerships and what is known as core development areas, which we treat not just as territories, but primarily as a set of coordinated and complementary projects, as well as state support tools. These and many other activities will be included in the revised state programme for the development of the Russian Arctic. In particular, it deals with forming a block of modern research and technological solutions designed specifically for the harsh Arctic conditions, improving the environmental monitoring system and developing offshore deposits. We pay special attention to the Northern Sea Route, which I mentioned earlier in my remarks. Changes in the ice situation and the availability of new up-to-date vessels makes it an almost year-round artery, at least, it will become one in the near future. It will be an effective and reliable transport corridor with great potential for the Russian and global economies. I have already instructed the Government to work through the issues of creating a separate entity, which will be in charge of the integrated development of the Northern Sea Route and contiguous core areas, including infrastructure, hydrography, security, management, and all associated services. We invite our foreign colleagues to make active use of the opportunities offered by the Northern Sea Route, which will cut transportation costs and delivery time for goods between Europe and Asia. However, we are well aware that for that corridor to be competitive, all-purpose, and usable by carriers of all types of goods ranging from bulk cargo to containerised freight, transport companies must enjoy the most favourable terms that meet the latest international standards. In closing, I would like to thank all the participants for their participation in the constructive discussion of the Arctic issues, and their passion with regard to its future. Special thanks go to my colleagues – the President of Finland and the President of Iceland – who took the time out of their busy schedules and attended today’s forum in person. Such a broad and authoritative international representation is a good sign of the political will of the Arctic and other states to preserve the Arctic as a territory of peace, stability and mutually beneficial cooperation. Thank you.