Estonia officially applies for observer status on the Arctic Council

Press release from the Estonian Foreign Ministry

Today 9 November, Estonia officially submitted an application to become an observer on the Arctic Council. The application details how Estonia meets the criteria set for Arctic Council observers and provides an overview of Estonia’s experience in Arctic research and its potential contribution to the working groups of the Arctic Council if it obtains observer status.

Estonia’s application was presented at a video meeting held with Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, the Foreign Minister of Iceland that currently holds the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, and Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu 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.

According to Reinsalu, 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 explained.

He said that as an inventive neighbour of the Arctic, Estonia has a lot to offer. We have 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 Parliament of Estonia (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 application:…

Additional information:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia
Communication Department

Date of publication: 9 Nov 2020

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