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Arctic Yearbook 2012
Poland and the Arctic: Between Science and Diplomacy
2011: 605). These countries were the first outside state actors to be accorded an observer status and
they continue to hold it today.
Furthermore, Polish interest extended to the then emerging Barents Euro-Arctic Council/Barents
Euro-Arctic Region (BEAC/BEAR) and Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS), which, along with
the AC and the Nordic Council of Ministers are often referred to as the “four councils of the
North”. Poland has been an observer at the BEAC since 1993, when the institution was established
by the Kirkenes Declaration, again as the only non-Arctic representative of the Eastern bloc.
the CBSS is the only forum for co-operation where Poland is a full member state. This arrangement,
although focused on the Baltic Sea region, involves also some Arctic states (Denmark, Iceland,
Norway, Sweden and the Russian Federation) and has clear links with the Arctic region as a
neighboring and interconnected region. Involvement into these bodies should also be seen as
stemming from the then-objectives of the then-foreign policy (Skubiszewski, 1991: 12).
No less important than the actual research activities in the Arctic was the Polish engagement in the
formation of regional scientific co-operation structures. From the outset Poland was one of five non-
Arctic states (Federal Republic of Germany, France, United Kingdom and Japan), which
accompanied the Arctic countries in the process leading to the establishment of the International
Arctic Science Committee (IASC) in 1990 (Machowski, 1993: 202). Besides IASC, the Committee on
Polar Research is also a member of the European Polar Board – a part of the European Science
To a certain extent, it may be said that the science-driven presence in Arctic cooperation structures
has not been translated into greater political commitment to the regional affairs, even though the
concept of including a “northern dimension” to Polish foreign policy was presented by foreign
minister Stefan Meller in 2006 (Grzela, 2011: 193-94). In the age of a changing Arctic, however, the
perennial regional presence, both within science and international institutions, appears to be Poland’s
major asset, strengthening its position among other outside actors with an interest in the Arctic. This
has opened a window of opportunity to promote Polish interests and use these diplomacy channels
to develop bilateral relations with both Arctic and non-Arctic states (Graczyk, 2011: 581, 627).
Revitalized Interest in Arctic Affairs
Since 2006, Polish engagement in the Arctic has gained an added impetus in the political realm. In
the general view, the key reasons for this renewed interest may be derived from the attention drawn