Preparations have begun for Estonia's application for observer status at the Arctic Council.
On Monday, the first meeting of a working group took place which has been tasked with preparing Estonia's bid for observer status on the Arctic Council. Their work includes highlighting Estonia's interest in the Arctic and cooperation with like-minded countries.
Foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu said Estonia's interests in the Arctic mainly fall into three domains: science, economy and security. Gaining observer status would enable the development of all three areas. Estonia has economic interests related to the Arctic, such as fisheries, logistics and green technology.
It would also enable more in-depth cooperation with like-minded states in Estonia's immediate neighbourhood and beyond, he said, noting the increased importance of the Arctic Council in the foreign policy of the European Union.
Reinsalu said: "Considering the increasing challenges coming from the Arctic, it is a chance for Estonia for more international engagement with issues related to the Arctic. Ensuring the sustainable development of the Arctic requires cooperation between states and broad political support, and this should not be a task for the Arctic countries alone, instead, it should also be a responsibility of the states close to the Arctic and international organisations."
Speaking in November when the proposal to apply to the council was approved, 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."
The government approved plans to apply for observer status on the Arctic Council last year and is part of Estonia's foreign policy strategy for 2030.
The eight-member Arctic Council is one of the most important cooperation forums dealing with the issues of the region and it addresses sustainable development and environmental protection of the region.
The council has 13 observer members which are mostly tasked with observing the work of the council and taking part in working groups.
Editor: Helen Wright