Mr. Bo Andersen, Director of the National Commitee for Polar Research, Mrs. Kjerstin Askholt

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Mr.Bo Andersen, Director of the National Commitee for Polar Research, Mrs.Kjerstin Askholt, Director General of the Polar Affairs Department from the Ministry of Justice, Mrs.Else Berit Eikeland, Special Advisor for Polar Affairs from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sven Ullring, Chairman of the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Mr.Geir Kløver, Director of the Fram Museum, Mr.Willy Østreng, President of the Norwegian Scientific Academy for Polar Research, Mr.Olav Orheim, Senior adviser of the Research Council of Norway and Mr.Trygve Bendiksby, Deputy Chief of the Latin America Departmente from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, dear excellencies and colleagues.


 First of all I would like to thank very sincerely your presence here today, to share with us a very special date for all the Argentines.

The Act 20.043 dated November 26th 1974, officially established the 22nd of February as the “Day of Antarctica Argentina” to commemorate the 22nd of February 1904, since it was the first time that the Argentine Flag was hoisted in Laurie Island in the South Orkney, where the first permanent human settlement in the Antarctic Continent was established: namely a meteorologist observatory and a post office. That place is known today as Orkney Base.

From then on, in the forty years that followed, the Argentine Republic was the only country in the world to keep permanent human presence in the Antarctic territory.

Argentina, like Norway, is an original signatory of the Antarctic Treaty and both are members of the so-called "group of claimants." In the case of Argentina we claim the portion that extends from the meridians 74 West to 25 West and from parallel 60 and the South Pole.

Argentina is firmly committed to the values ​​and principles that distinguish the Antarctic Treaty System. Argentina devotes its efforts to strengthen international cooperation and scientific research in the Antarctica, safeguarding it as a land of peace and with a strong commitment to the protection of the environment.

This commitment had been expressed before the existence of the Antarctic Treaty. The scientific vocation of Argentina towards the Antarctica, as I mentioned above, began in 1904 with activities in the magnetic and meteorological observatory on Laurie Island, South Orkney. These activities have been strengthened continuously until today. In addition, the emphasis on the importance attached to the Antarctic science was reinforced in 1951 with the creation of the Argentine Antarctic Institute, the first governmental organization dedicated exclusively to the development of science in the Antarctica.

It could be mentioned, as an example of early international cooperation, one of the oldest rescue operations in Antarctica carried out by the Argentine naval vessel Uruguay to rescue Nordenjolk expedition in 1903. The commitment to maritime security assistance has always been and is today very much in force. The responsibility over the Antarctic Peninsula area is chaired jointly with Chile, through the so-called Combined Antarctic Naval Patrol.

At present, the Argentine- Antarctic Program runs 6 permanent bases : Orkney Base, Marambio Base, Carlini Base, Esperanza Base, San Martin Base and Belgrano II Base) and other 7 temporary bases: Brown Base, Matienzo Base, Spring Base, Chamber Base, Melchior Base, Petrel Base and Deception Base.

Another remarkable example of modern international Antarctic cooperation is the Dallman Laboratory, located on the Carlini Base, which, since 1994 works as an international research center. This initiative enhances scientific capacity of countries. It is run jointly by the Alfred Wegener Institute of Germany and the Argentine- Antarctic Institute. The fact of not duplicating efforts from both nations contributes significantly to decrease environmental impact on the surrounding areas.

It should be mentioned that our capital city, Buenos Aires, has hosted the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat from 2004 until today. Our Authorities have shown a permanent interest in serving the needs of the Secretariat and its staff.

In 2011 Argentina had the honor to host the 34th State Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting, on the occasion of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty. The meeting issued the so-called "Declaration of Buenos Aires" which highlights the importance of international cooperation in Antarctica.

Among the very strong links between Norway and Argentina we cannot fail to mention today the important role played by Argentina in the successful Norwegian expedition that allowed Roald Amundsen to reach the South Pole for the very first time in 1911. It was through the support that Amundsen received from his Norwegian-Argentine benefactor Mr.Pedro Christophersen or Don Pedro as he was known in Argentina.

Pedro Christopheresen was, born in Tonsberg, Norway, in 1845, he had emigrated to Argentina in 1871. He was mainly devoted to the maritime business in Buenos Aires and reached a high economic position, becoming an important and wealthy businessman. He considered himself Argentinean by adoption, strengthening those ties even more following his marriage with Dona Carmen de Alvear, granddaughter of Argentina`s independence hero Carlos María de Alvear.

The journey that ended in the discovery of the South Pole, had been originally planned to reach the North Pole. However, in 1909 the news broke that Cook and Peary claimed to have reached the North Pole and Amundsen, wishing to preserve the reputation he had gained as a polar explorer, decided to change the original project and detour the expedition to conquer the South Pole. The Fram left Norway on August 9, 1910 in an almost unnoticed, as Amundsen was heavily in debt. Apparently, the roadmap would surround South America to turn north in the Pacific to the Bering Strait, where the Arctic odyssey would begin. However, in Madeira the real plans were disclosed to an astonished crew. Cablegrams were sent to inform the real destination of the expedition.

Just before leaving Norway, Amundsen had received a communication from Pedro Christophersen from Buenos Aires, in which he offered to undertake the supplying of the Fram, assuming that the expedition would stop at (Montevideo) the Rio de la Plata. But the slow progress of the trip was to gain time, Amundsen chose to go straight to the Ross Sea, where the Fram sought shelter in the Bay of Whales.

In the summer months, the expedition landed materials on the Great Barrier (at the Ross Sea) with which the crew-men erected a building that would house some of them during the winter. This shelter was baptized as Framheim. Once this task was finished and leaving behind some of their companions at the newly constructed facility, the Fram expedition headed back north to conduct oceanographic research and to refuel in Buenos Aires before returning the following summer.

However, in Buenos Aires the expeditioners learned that their finances were exhausted and that both, the oceanographic expedition as well as the rescue of fellow explorers in the Ross Barrier, were in danger.

It was then when Pedro Christopersen, the savior, emerged as the one to cover all the expenses of the expedition as well as the food and fuel. Once everything was ready, the Fram sailed from Buenos Aires on June 8, 1911 to conduct oceanographic observations in the Atlantic.

After this, the ship came back to anchor in Buenos Aires again in September to refuel before heading to the Ross Sea in search of the other members of the crew. The Fram departed for the Ross Sea on October 5th, 1911 seeking Amundsen and his companions.

Despite the fact that Roald Amundsen had raised the Norwegian flag in the South Pole on 14th December 1911, the extraordinary event of the conquest of the South Pole was only known on 25th January 1912, at 4 pm, that is to say 42 days later. The feat that seemed impossible to realize, had been finally accomplished.

Amundsen generously honoured the debt owed to his benefactor from Buenos Aires. The name Don Pedro Christophersen was given to a peak of more than 15,000 feet situated in the mountain range known as Queen Maud Range that can be seen in the photograph taken by the same Norwegian expedition. In addition, a large area of ​​high lands was given the name of Carmen Earth, to honour Mrs.Carmen Alvear, Don Pedro Christophersen´s s wife. Both names can be seen on the map published by Amundsen on account of the expedition.

When the moment came to celebrate his triumph, Amundsen expressed his appreciation to all those who had lent their support. His remarks on the occasion give evidence of the deep and long–lasting ties between Norway and Agentina in the Antarctic adventure. Finally I will quote Roald Amundsen in this regard:

“Three names remain far above the rest, to feel empowered to understand what has happened, they are the names of three people who gave me their support when I needed it most. I will always remember with respectful gratitude His Majesty the King, Professor Fridtjof Nansen and Don Pedro Christophersen”.

Thank you very much

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