ABSTRACT. Arctic and Antarctica, the world’s two regions within the polar circles of northern and southern hemispheres, were rarely discussed in the past, but lately have gained the attention of the international community. Besides the fact that the two poles are permafrost encircling the geographic and magnetic poles of the planet, nearly everything else is different with the two polar regions; morphological, climatic, anthropo-biological, political and legal standing.  The Southern pole-Antarctica is the region governed by a treaty, which is fully accepted by the entire international community (that includes all of the neighboring and interested states), however, of a limited timeline (50 years). In the North-Arctic, on the contrary, the setup of the special legal framework is still under discussion. Due to the current global warming, vast perennial ice sheets are melting – a clear environmental threat but also an economic opportunity (like: the alternative shipping routes and large mineral deposits at hand). A question would arise when the absence of a definite legal setting in the Arctic and the increased focus on national (geoeconomic and geopolitical) interests of the circumpolar states might trigger border tensions, domestic unrest, an open armed conflict and hence, endanger the global security. Among the Five there is a lot of the situations described above: two P-5 members and both of them (former) superpowers, four are the NATO members facing Russia on the other edge, three European versus two American, one in the EU, three of the G-8, and all of them the OSCE members. Is it a change or is it the maintenance of the Arctic and Antarctic status quo to preserve the power balance? The following lines are a brief geopolitical overview on the Arctic and Antarctica, including their characteristics and environmental factors. pp. 165–232

Keywords: Arctic, Antarctica, pole, security, geopolitical, environmental

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IMC University of Applied Sciences-Krems

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