Iceland as an Arctic State
The chapter focuses on the evolution of Iceland’s Arctic policy since the 1990s by looking at three factors: historical and cultural attitudes toward the Arctic; economic and political interests in the region, and the country’s role in Arctic security and geopolitics. It shows how the Arctic has been used by political elites to promote a backward-looking narrative on an exalted past; how it has served the purpose of redrawing attention to Iceland’s geostrategic position after the end of the Cold War; how it has been used to offer forward-looking economic visions in response to the recent financial crisis, and how it has been adopted both to reinforce traditional Iceland’s Western orientation and to explore non-Western possibilities. It is argued that there are underlying Icelandic insecurities regarding Arctic governance and the fear of being excluded from decision-making in areas considered important for Iceland’s economic security and political interests. This attitude has affected Iceland’s policies with respect to the five Arctic littoral states and ocean management in general. Yet, even if there is less domestic pressure for viewing the Arctic as a prospective dividend in connection with the opening of new sea routes, the region is still projected in terms of material promise.
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