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Winter is coming, but can the Arctic community manage to detach itself from international crises?

Polis discusses the ups and downs of foreign and security policy in the Arctic.

The Arctic region, a global hot topic on the upswing, has found its way onto the agenda of Polis180’s Peace & Security Programme. In an evening event guided by Polis’ very own Stephan Hoare, Arctic experts Eivind Vad Petersson (Royal Norwegian Embassy) and Stefan Steinicke (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik) gave a comprehensive overview of current stakes in the region.

In their keynote speeches, Petersson and Steinicke pointed out how cooperative the regional partnership still is. This is the case despite the strained geopolitical backdrop of recent events in Ukraine and Syria. Notwithstanding the obvious environmental impact of climate change, both speakers emphasised the economic opportunities melting polar caps might bear for shipping routes, the exploration of natural resources as well as scientific cooperations. Disposing of comparatively good relations to its Eastern neighbour Russia, Norway could play a key role in keeping the on-going Arctic cooperation afloat.

Once the two invited experts had thus set out the basic groundwork, the participants were given the opportunity to discuss their personal views in smaller groups of their choice (Arctic Five countries plus Germany). The outcomes of their debates were striking: Given the economic opportunities at stake, all groups detected potential for confrontation in the Arctic. None of the represented countries showed any interest in withdrawing from the region. What is more, by the time oil prices render exploration profitable again, no country would want to miss out on the economic opportunities the Arctic has to offer.

On the other hand, several groups pointed to an important potential for deepened cooperation – particularly regarding environmental risks. In order to keep those risks at bay, all represented countries showed an interest in cooperation, as modifications of the natural environment might bear negative impacts on all of them.

Ultimately, the striving agreement clearly prevailed over the need to keep tensions low in the region. Being one of the most stable regions in the world, existing working relationships in the Arctic should be maintained and strengthened in areas where cooperation already exists. Moving beyond such existing patterns, several groups also emphasized the need for developing common standards and a consistent and unifying vision.

On the surface, Arctic issues currently seem to fade into the background of international politics. Nevertheless, they are becoming an increasingly important item on the agenda of Polis180.

You want to find out more about the topic? Then read Stephan Hoare’s and Janus Keck’s enlightening piece on Germany’s role in the Arctic on the Polis Blog and join the debate on Facebook and Twitter ()!

PROJEKTLEITER

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Daniel Hilgert

Daniel studiert Geschichte im Master an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin und hat zuvor Geschichte und Politikwissenschaft an der LMU München und der Tel Aviv University studiert. Seit Februar 2015 ist er am Aufbau von Polis180 beteiligt und leitet das Programm Frieden & Sicherheit.

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Stephan Hoare

Stephan Hoare arbeitet als Juniorberater bei einer Berliner Kommunikationsagentur und beschäftigt sich mit Themen aus den Bereichen International Relations, Corporate Communications und Energie. Stephan hat Politik, Geschichte und Völkerrecht in München, Bergen und Quito studiert. Bei Polis180 verantwortet er die Projektgruppe Klima & Energie.

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Janus Keck

Janus Keck hat Politikwissenschaften in Aarhus, Bath und Berlin mit einem Schwerpunkt auf deutsch-nordische Beziehungen und nordische Zusammenarbeit studiert. Bei Polis 180 beschäftigt er sich insbesondere mit energie- und klimapolitischen Themen.

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© 2016 Polis180 e.V. | Grassroots-Thinktank für Außen- und Europapolitik

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