Estonia will apply for observer status at the Arctic Council it was decided on Thursday after Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu put forward a proposal.
"Considering the increasing challenges from the Arctic, it is a chance for Estonia to get more involved internationally with topics related to the Arctic. The Arctic Council is one of the most important cooperation forums dealing with the region's issues and it addresses the sustainable development and protection of the environment of the Arctic. Ensuring the sustainable development of the Arctic requires cooperation between states and extensive political support, and this should not be a task of Arctic states alone, instead, it should also include countries and international organisations close to the Arctic," Reinsalu said.
"As the northernmost non-Arctic country and due to its location, Estonia is directly affected by the geopolitical developments in the Arctic, and this is why we should be included in discussions and problem-solving," said Reinsalu. He added that while it is the task of an observer to monitor the work of the council, observers still contribute through working groups.
The Foreign Minister said Estonia's interests in the Arctic mainly fall into three domains: science, economy and security.
Estonia's increased activity in relation to the Arctic would provide Estonian scientists and companies with more opportunities to participate in various cooperation formats. "For example, the observer status would grant our scientists who are engaged in polar studies a greater access to research funds, and would enhance research through working groups," Reinsalu said, adding that Estonia also has economic interests related to the Arctic, such as fisheries, logistics and green technology.
According to the international relations and security objectives of Estonia's foreign policy strategy covering the period until 2030, in addition to bilateral relations, Estonia is also interested in boosting cooperation on regional issues, including a closer and more impactful cooperation with Nordic countries to ensure a favourable international environment for Estonia.
Editor: Helen Wright