Poland has noticeably increased its activity in Arctic affairs in recent years. Although the first Polish research facilities on Svalbard were established back in the 1950s (by virtue of being a party to the Treaty concerning Spitsbergen) and the country has been involved in the Arctic environmental cooperation since its inception in the early 1990s, it was not until 2006/2007 when a policy shift towards assumption of a more ambitious role could be observed. The current Polish activity in the Arctic is motivated primarily by scientific interests, but nonetheless the region has been given a renewed attention in the Poland's foreign policy. Taking advantage of its status as a "permanent" observer to the Arctic Council (AC), Poland has keenly engaged in advancements at different international levels by introducing and supporting various initiatives within the AC and bilateral relations with Arctic and non-Arctic states as well as the European Union. This article attempts to explain the shift in Polish foreign policy towards the Arctic and how Poland, as a country without significant economic and/or strategic interests in the Arctic, has become one of the most active outside actors discussing their role in the region with the Arctic states. Furthermore, it assesses prospects for a coherent Polish polar policy.
Piotr Graczyk is a Researcher at the University of Tromsø.