Committee approves to become party to Spitsbergen Agreement

Committee approves to become party to Spitsbergen Agreement

Committee approves to become party to Spitsbergen Agreement

The Turkish parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee has accepted the law proposal regarding Türkiye’s accession to the Spitsbergen Agreement, which will enable Turkish citizens to acquire property, residence and fishing rights in the Svalbard (Spitsbergen) archipelago and territorial waters.

The proposal will be discussed in the parliament’s general assembly in the coming days.

The treaty will give Türkiye the right to engage in fishing and hunting, maritime, mining, trade and industrial activities in the region, said Bursu Özsoy, the chairperson of the TÜBİTAK Marmara Research Center’s Institute of Arctic Research.

Pointing out to hydrocarbon, oil and natural gas deposits in the region, which are under the sovereignty of Norway and located only 1,000 kilometers from the north pole, Özsoy said Türkiye’s capability in the region, as well as the development of maritime activities and joint infrastructure projects, will increase.

“The heat of the ocean and the cold of the atmosphere clash due to the decrease in sea ice by almost a third, and we are currently experiencing the extremes and disasters we experience in our climate,” Özsoy said.

“When we look at the routes that China describes as the ‘new Silk Road’ in the north and the commercial use of the road opened from the melting sea ice in the north, it can be considered a serious gain in the maritime trade route,” she added.

Stressing that the Turkish flag was unfurled in the Arctic with the first scientific expedition carried out in 2019, she stated that the second Arctic expedition took place last July.

The Arctic region has gained economic and political importance with the shrinking of the sea ice in parallel with global warming and climate change, Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal, representing Türkiye in the accession process, said at the commission meetings.

Türkiye’s accession to this treaty would further solidify its interest in the Arctic region, according to the experts.

As part of the accession, Turkish scientists will have the opportunity to conduct scientific research at the Turkish Science Station to be established.

It was also noted that Turkish students will have the opportunity to study at the University Centre in Svalbard.

A total of 49 countries, mostly northern, are parties to the agreement. Of the 27 EU member countries, 22 signed the agreement, while 25 of 30 NATO states are members of the agreement.

The treaty regards establishing some arrangements for the Svalbard archipelago between Norway, the U.S., Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Great Britain, Ireland, British Overseas Territories and Sweden.

There are serious rules and prohibitions regarding acquired rights, according to the authorities.

Particular attention is paid to fulfilling the conditions due to global warming and climate crisis.

Since 2016, Türkiye has accelerated its scientific investigations at the poles. It is believed that expeditions and research will help the country’s scientific achievements.

In the first Turkish Arctic Scientific Expedition in 2019, organized by the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Türkiye (TÜBİTAK), the team of eight scientists worked on 16 projects, discovering a new type of bacteria,” Özsoy said earlier.

The country established a temporary science base on Horseshoe Island in Antarctica.