Turkey Is Concerned About the Arctic


In 2022, Turkey decided to join the Svalbard Treaty, signed on February 9, 1920. The bill was approved by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Turkish Grand National Assembly on October 6, 2022. Legal procedures were completed with the adoption of Law No. 7461, published in the Official Gazette on April 10, 2023, authorizing the Republic of Turkey to participate in this international agreement.

The rights granted to Turkish citizens as a result of Turkey joining the Svalbard Treaty align with the provisions that the treaty extends to all signatory nations. The treaty allows citizens of the signatory countries to engage in various activities in the Svalbard archipelago, such as entry into territorial waters, fjords, and ports, residence, fishing and hunting, trade and industrial activities, natural resource development without the need for visas.

Turkey pays attention to the region thanks to scientific research on climate change launched in the Arctic region in 2019 under the leadership of Council for Scientific and Technological Research TÜBİTAK. The Council arranged three scientific expeditions to the region, the latest was in August 2023.

Speaking at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Commission where the bill was discussed, Burcu Özsoy, director of the TÜBİTAK-MAM Polar Research Institute, emphasized the importance of the region in terms of research into the effects of global warming and climate change. He also highlighted an overall increase in Turkey's capabilities in this region of the world: gaining experience in new trade routes, developing maritime activities and joint infrastructure projects.

Interestingly, a senior researcher at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute Andreas Østhagen supposes that Turkey's accession to the Svalbard Treaty is a sign of country’s great power ambitions.

Erdogan and his [political, - ed.] regime obviously consider the northern regions to be prestigious project which is indeed an area of interest for many major powers. In this case, Türkiye should also be present. This is about symbolic great power politics, said Andreas Østhagen. At the same time, expert does not rule out that Turkey may have economic interests in the Arctic.

Sources: Yesileconomi, Resmigazete, Abprojeyonetimi, NRK