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Arctic Yearbook 2012
Scotland has to offer and what it has to gain, inside or outside the UK. And finally, but not of least
importance, it will be a clear political statement to the London based government about Scotland’s
ambitions and distinct national identity. It may indeed be that on careful evaluation, a conclusion is
reached, as has been for the UK, that it is not in Scotland’s best interests to pursue an Arctic strategy
per se
Nevertheless, some efforts towards a coherent set of policy approaches to the High North would be
of benefit to Scotland and a first step would be to establish an Arctic division within its international
department. Archer (2009) argued that it is not so much the UK’s disinterest in the Arctic that has
led it to relative negligence of that region, but rather that the UK has more pressing concerns
elsewhere and that other states have much stronger Northern interests to defend. This argument is
less convincing with respect to Scotland which faces a much lesser (though not negligible) terrorist
threat and does not bear responsibility for interventions in trouble zones of the Middle East and
elsewhere. Scotland’s geographical, historical and cultural connections to the Arctic are stronger than
those in the rest of the UK and to that end, it is harder to say that Scotland’s priorities lie elsewhere
or even that many other countries (at least outside the Arctic eight) have stronger interests.
1. Dependency is not here intended to suggest an economy relying on simple transfers from South to
North, but rather to indicate lack of local control over the economy. This arises from decoupling of
production and consumption: they export what they produce and import what they consume. Hence,
demand and pricing is determined outside of the region.
The author wishes to thank the following individuals who provided valuable guidance which aided
the development of this paper: Alyson Bailes, University of Iceland; Tom Barry, CAFF, Akureyri;
Duncan Depledge, RUSI, London; Robert Dunn, Scottish Government, Edinburgh; Níels
Einarsson, Stefansson Arctic Institute, Akureyri; Lassi Heininen, University of Lapland; Ronald
Johnstone, Church of Scotland, Halkirk; Timo Koivurova, University of Lapland; Paul Stansfield,
FCO, London; Stewart Watters, Nordic Institute for Asian Studies; and Matthew Willis, RUSI,
London. She also wishes to thank the two anonymous reviewers for valuable feedback and the
opportunity to improve this paper. All errors are the author’s own.