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Arctic intiative launched in Stromness

Fiona Hyslop MSP at the launch of the Scottish Government’s new Artic policy framework in Stromness. 

An initiative designed to strengthen and build links between Scotland and nations in the Arctic was launched in Stromness yesterday, Monday.

Scotland’s very first Arctic policy framework, titled Arctic Connections, was officially launched by the Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for culture tourism and external affairs, Fiona Hyslop MSP, on Monday, at the town’s Orkney Research and Innovation Campus.

Orkney Islands Council leader James Stockan attended. Speaking yesterday, he said: “There could be no more appropriate place than Orkney for the launch event.

“Our islands have long been seen as a gateway to the Arctic. The Orcadian explorer John Rae discovered the final link of the Northwest Passage. At one time, three-quarters of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s workforce originated from Orkney.

“And during the Second World War, Orkney served as an important departure point for the Arctic Convoys that battled ferocious bombardment to deliver vital supplies to the north of Russia.

“Today, we look to build on those historic links — with Orkney playing a pivotal role in support of this important government initiative.”

The new framework sets out the Scottish Government’s ambitions across the Arctic — encouraging academia, civic society and government organisations to have a greater level of collaboration with international counterparts.”

The launch event for Arctic Connections was held in partnership between the Scottish Government, Orkney Islands Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, with the keynote address being given by the visiting cabinet secretary.

Launching the framework, Fiona Hyslop MPS highlighted past collaboration and joint exploration, while looking ahead to how Scottish expertise on Arctic issues can lead to more work with Arctic partners in the future.

Countries with territories in the Arctic are already major trade partners for Scotland, accounting for around 27.5 per cent of our overseas exports in 2017. They are also the origin of nearly half of all foreign direct investments in Scotland.

The cabinet secretary said: “Scotland remains an outward-looking European nation, committed to positive relationships with both our European neighbours and those further afield, despite the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s exit from the EU.

“Scottish_ Arctic partnerships have intensified over recent years, acknowledging that international challengers require international solutions.

“The launch of Arctic Connections creates opportunities to take forward key environmental and climate change work and strengthen trade and investment links in areas such as renewable energy, as well as promoting Scotland as a well-place marine transport and logistics hub.”