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Arctic Yearbook 2012
Poland and the Arctic: Between Science and Diplomacy
close interaction between science and policy is arguably the most striking feature of the renewed
approach to Polish engagement in high latitudes.
Accordingly, Poland seems to be assuming a more ambitious position that might give it greater
political leverage in the European and global scenes. Such a multifaceted approach is reflected in the
“four pillars” of the Polish approach to the Arctic presented by Under Secretary of State Maciej
Szpunar (2011), comprising: 1) recognition that existing international legal framework, including the
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the principle of freedom of
scientific research, apply in the Arctic; 2) active engagement in development of the EU Arctic policy,
ensuring inclusion of Polish interests; 3) cooperation with regional institutions and organizations,
primarily the Arctic Council; and 4) public diplomacy (Borkowski, 2011). From the Polish viewpoint
it is essential to further develop the Arctic governance system to be able to respond to the growing
interest in these questions, particularly in reference to shipping and utilization of natural resources.
According to the Polish position, the Arctic Council is the most appropriate place to discuss these
questions (Borkowski, 2010; Szpunar, 2011), therefore it should be further strengthened to efficiently
tackle them. Prospectively, it can be said that Poland’s efforts to promote cooperation and
compliance with international law originate in the country’s security policy. Given the immediate
contiguity of the Baltic region
to the Arctic, it is essential for Poland to keep this area stable and
peaceful (Osica, 2010: 9; Grzela, 2011: 205).
Specifically, Poland has also formulated its policy priorities pertaining to the AC, and it seems
reasonable to perceive them as an integral part of the Polish stance on the Arctic. Overall, these
considerations concentrate on participation of Polish scientists in the AC working groups activities
that could be further enhanced. Furthermore, Poland seeks more opportunities to be involved with
AC projects and underscores freedom of scientific research as the principle that should be a
foundation of the Council’s work. Finally, in the country’s view, it is essential to maintain and
develop propitious relations between the Arctic states and observers (Kremer, 2008). Poland has
been fairly active in putting these points into action.
For instance, Polish diplomats advocated for an introduction of Deputy Ministers Meetings (DMM)
between Ministerial Meetings as a new political level within the AC, and extending the invitation to
deputy ministers from observer states. This was partly successful as Polish undersecretaries of state
participated in two such meetings – the unofficial meeting in Tromsø in May 2008 (deputy minister
Andrzej Kremer) and the first AC Deputy Ministerial Meeting in Copenhagen in May 2010 (deputy