Estonia's bid for Arctic Council observer status unsuccessful

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Estonia's Arctic Council observer status submission ceremony. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Estonia's bid to become an observer on the Arctic Council was unsuccessful after all members of the council failed to reach a unified decision.

The eight members of the Arctic Council are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States discussed the matter at a meeting in Iceland at the end of May. 

A public relations officer for the Arctic Council told ERR News: "There were no new Observers admitted to the Council. The Arctic Council is a consensus-based forum, and consensus was not reached on Observer applications at that time."

Adding that they could not comment on which countries were for or against Estonia's bid: "As this is a closed decision, we cannot comment beyond the consensus – or non-consensus – that was or was not reached."

Estonia submitted its application in November 2020 and said it wants to become an observer on the Arctic Council to participate in discussions on the sustainable development of the Arctic.

These directly affect Estonia as the northernmost non-Arctic state, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) said. "While the decision was not made this time, we consider it a milestone on a longer journey."

"We will continue running for observer status and presenting our experience, as well as our cooperation with the members and observers of the Arctic Council. We can rely on the many new contacts we have already made," she added.

The next ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council where Estonia's application could be approved will be held in 2023.

Non-Arctic states - states with no territory in the Arctic - with observer states are: France, Germany, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, China, Poland, India, Korea, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The primary role of observers is to observe the work of the Arctic Council. Observers can attend meetings, make contributions through working groups and propose projects.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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