Estonia officially applies for Arctic Council observer status

Estonia submitted it's application to become an Arctic Council Observer on November 9, 2020.
Estonia submitted it's application to become an Arctic Council Observer on November 9, 2020. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Estonia officially submitted an application to become an observer on the Arctic Council on Monday (November 9). Estonia believes it deserves the status as it is the northernmost non-Arctic state and wants to contribute to the arctic's sustainable and technological development.

Estonia's application was presented at a video meeting held with Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson, the Foreign Minister of Iceland that currently holds the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) stressed that ensuring the sustainable development of the Arctic should not be the task of Arctic states alone, instead it is also the responsibility of other countries, especially those in the vicinity of the Arctic.

"As the northernmost non-Arctic state, Estonia is willing and ready to take on this responsibility," Reinsalu said.

Reinsalu said the decision to apply for observer status is a clear example of Estonia's commitment and broad-based interest in being a part of the work of the Arctic Council in order to contribute to the sustainable development of the Arctic.

Observer status would allow Estonia to make a greater contribution with its knowledge and expertise to the discussions on the developments in the Arctic.

"The Arctic is the litmus test for climate change – while we are not an Arctic country, the developments there do not recognise national borders and directly affect us," Reinsalu said.

He said that as an inventive neighbour of the Arctic, Estonia has a lot to offer. Estonia has knowledge from and a long history in Arctic research, and the findings of our scientists can be easily adapted to the Arctic. The research initiated and expedited by Estonian scientists has already reached working groups of the Arctic Council.


One of the most important objectives is the creation of e-Arctic with the assistance of Estonian scientists and companies. Estonia's experience in and knowledge about the creation of a digital society can help polar communities adopt efficient and secure digital solutions.

For example, an e-health system, health information network, patients' portal and online booking system would make medical services available despite infrastructural limitations.

The world's largest genetic database of Siberian peoples is located in Estonia. Estonia's competencies in genetic studies and personalised medicine can contribute to the prevention and treatment of diseases.

Estonia's application to the Arctic Council was prepared by various ministries, the Office of the President of Estonia, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu, academic institutions and representatives of the private sector.

The Government of Estonia acknowledged the application at a meeting on 15 October 2020. Estonia hopes that its application will be discussed at the ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council in May 2021.

Read more about Estonia's bid here.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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