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Arctic Yearbook 2012
It is fair to say that becoming a party of the Svalbard Treaty stimulated further development of
Polish polar research, what led to consolidation of the country’s scientific interests in the Arctic.
Consequently, a need arose to promote freedom of scientific research in the region and to improve
political conditions for the integration of non-Arctic scientists in international research programs,
most often sponsored by Arctic governments. In this context, Polish interest in concepts of regional
cooperative structures that were proposed by Finland, Norway, and Canada (Young, 1998) came as
no surprise. Involvement in international institutions, especially driven by Western states, became
even more important given the dissolution of the socialist system in the late 1980s and early 1990s
and the associated political situation (Graczyk, 2011: 581). Reformulated objectives of Polish foreign
policy, introduced by the newly appointed non-communist minister of foreign affairs Krzysztof
Skubiszewski, included closer links, and eventual integration, with “the network of west European
interdependencies” (Skubiszewski, 1992: 56).
However, the majority of Arctic states had also been interested in the inclusion of non-Arctic
countries that significantly contributed to pollution in the region (Joenniemi, 1989: 119). Moreover,
external actors conducting sound research in the Arctic could provide environmental cooperation
institutions with valuable data (Nilson, 1997: 32). Therefore, Poland as the only “socialist” non-
Arctic country along with the Federal Republic of Germany and Great Britain were invited as
observers, when Finland initiated negotiations towards the establishment of Arctic environmental
cooperation (Oude Elferink, 1992: 129; Graczyk, 2011: 579, 589; Young, 1998: 90). This bargaining
process, also called the “Rovaniemi Process”, led to the adoption of the Declaration on the
Protection of the Arctic Environment and the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS) in
June 1991 in Rovaniemi, Finland.
From the outset it was important to Poland to have links with the emerging structures that could
affect science activities in the Arctic (Graczyk, 2011: 579). Despite limited capabilities to contribute
financially to AEPS programs compared to Germany, Great Britain or the Netherlands (cf. Nilson,
1997: 32), Poland was an accredited AEPS observer state until the creation of the Arctic Council
(AC) in 1996 and the absorption of the AEPS by the Council in 1997. The four non-Arctic states –
Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands and Poland – which demonstrated their engagement and
interest in the implementation of the AEPS, seamlessly became “permanent” observer states at the
AC, however this status was officially confirmed in the declaration of the September 1998 first
ministerial meeting in Iqaluit, Canada and reinforced in the Council’s Rules of Procedure (Graczyk,