Greenland: Expert explores impact of island’s ice melting
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EU officials are watching today’s vote closely, especially the vote share for Inuit Ataqatigiit, the party which successfully campaigned for Greenland to leave the then-European Economic Community (1985). It comes as the northern pole is back on the EU’s agenda, with the Commission currently redrafting the bloc’s Arctic policy.
This will seek closer ties with Arctic countries and states – just at a time when many in Greenland are calling for more distance.
An EU Commission diplomat said: “We are watching the Greenland elections very closely, Nuuk is certainly very much on our radar.”
The Arctic island was a Danish colony until 1953 when it was established as a province of the Danish realm.
In 1979, Greenland became a “self-governing territory” but the economy still heavily depends on subsidies from Denmark, which amount to £446 million per year – a third of Greenland’s budget.
Unlike Denmark, Greenland is not a member of the EU, from which it withdrew in 1985.
However, the independence movement has been growing and is now seen as a top election issue as young Greenlanders.
In a survey conducted by the University of Copenhagen, 67 percent of Greenlanders said the island must at some point tear itself apart from Denmark.
The election campaign for the parliament’s 31 seats has also centred on fishing – the main driver of Greenland’s economy and an aspect of the Arctic country Brussels seems to miss.
Inuit Ataqatigiit Chairman Múte Egede told the Express Greenland should be allowed to act more independently on the international stage.
He said the next ten years will be crucial for whether Greenland can achieve independence within the next generation.
But Tillie Martinussen, Chairman of the anti-independence Cooperation Party, said Greenland needed to “wear the realistic hat.”
The Greenlandic politician said: “If we look forward to two, three or four generations, then it may well be that it will be a good idea for Greenland to become independent.
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“I do not think so now. All nations have to be in some kind of communities.
Erik Jensen, leader of the Simnut party, said: “It is necessary for us to be able to utilize our resources better and strengthen our economy, and also for us to be able to make an effort in relation to climate change.”
Greenlandic politicians agreed on a snap election after the collapse of a three-party governing coalition in February following a deep political divide over a proposed mining project involving uranium and rare-earth metals in southern Greenland.
Supporters see the Kvanefjeld mine project as a potential source of jobs and economic prosperity.
Outgoing Prime Minister Kim Kielsen pushed to give the green light to mine owner Greenland Minerals, an Australia-based company with Chinese ownership, to start operation.
Dr Dwayne Ryan Menezes, Managing Director of the Polar Research and Policy Initiative, said “Given its vast resource potential, combined with its strategic geographic location that makes it invaluable to the most efficient sea routes and air routes connecting North America, Europe and Asia, it is beyond doubt that Greenland will be an epicentre of geopolitics, geoeconomics and geoscience in the 21st century.”
Polls opened at 11am today and will close at 10pm with results announced tomorrow.
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