Arctic Yearbook 2012
Poland and the Arctic: Between Science and Diplomacy
policy agenda, but also in consolidating the Polish scientific community from multiple fields to
provide the MFA with their expertise on developments in polar regions.
The importance of Arctic developments to outside players such as the EU, or Asian states striving to
obtain an observer status at the AC, has generated further favorable circumstances for the Polish
foreign service by opening new avenues to build special relationships with this particular group of
actors. It is submitted that given Poland's limited capabilities compared to other external entities, it
has been able to specialize as an intermediary state in regional relations. To play any role in such
settings, medium or small states such as Poland have to concentrate on areas in which they have a
comparative advantage (Schroeder, 1994: 125; 1998: 3-5). Accordingly, Polish diplomats seem to be
making use of their well-established and non-controversial position in the region to act as advocates
for other non-Arctic entities, which gives them an added advantage in relations with non-Arctic
states and extra diplomatic leverage in both the AC and the EU. In some cases non-Arctic states
sought the opportunity to consult on Arctic issues with Poland during official visits, which may
suggest that the country is perceived as a pacesetter in regard to involvement of outside actors
(Senior Polish MFA Official, personal communication, October 20, 2010; Graczyk, 2011: 581).
Initiatives at the multilateral level are underpinned and complemented by a network of bilateral
relations with the Arctic states. Poland holds consultations on Arctic affairs with respective northern
countries at different diplomatic levels. The highest form of interaction to date was a letter from
Foreign Minister Rados
aw Sikorski to his Swedish counterpart Carl Bildt on strengthening of mutual
cooperation in the Arctic. This diplomacy channel is of particular importance for the country’s Arctic
related foreign policy as it allows it to survey Arctic states’ positions, bridge gaps in knowledge and
explore potential areas for cooperation and engagement.
Increased activity within public diplomacy completes the picture of Poland’s renewed and broadened
interest in Arctic affairs. The Polish MFA has supported various conferences and seminars
discussing common misperceptions and misunderstandings of the situation in the Arctic. The
important thing to note in this connection is that at two events the Polish government was
represented at the relatively high level of deputy foreign ministers, who at each occasion presented
main Polish interests and goals in the Arctic.