As Arctic ice recedes, it opens the region up to a host of economic, trade, environmental, and military activities that will have substantial impacts on the transatlantic community. On October 10, the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council hosted the Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson for an off-the-record event to discuss security and development in the Arctic and Northern Europe.

Sveinsson and other discussants exchanged ideas on the military, economic, and political challenges facing the Arctic region, especially in light of the Ukraine crisis and its potential to spill over into the Nordic-Baltic region and the Arctic. Iceland’s proximity to the Arctic, its influence in the Arctic Circle, and its NATO membership are among the reasons why ensuring international cooperation in the High North is important for Iceland. Participants also discussed the potential upcoming agenda for the Arctic Council. In early 2015, the United States will assume chairmanship of the Arctic Council, with an emphasis on climate change issues and environmental cooperation.

Minister Sveinsson assumed the role of Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade in May 2013. Sveinsson is also a Member of the Parliament of Iceland for the Northwest constituency, a position he has held since 2009.