Greenland boycotts Arctic Council

When all mem­bers of the Arc­tic Coun­cil got togeth­er in Kiruna, Swe­den, for the min­is­te­r­i­al Arc­tic Coun­cil meet­ing on Wednes­day this week, Green­land was miss­ing.

Greenland’s prime min­is­ter Ale­qa Ham­mond decid­ed to not take part in the meet­ing. Accord­ing to the Green­landic news­pa­per Ser­mit­si­aq this is caused by the fact that Green­land didn’t have a seat on the nego­ti­a­tion table of the Arc­tic Coun­cil since the begin­ning of the Swedish chair­man­ship in 2011. Until then Green­land was involved in cen­tral pro­ceed­ings in the Arc­tic Coun­cil from its found­ing in 1996.


Green­land on the globe

Now Green­land has sus­pend­ed its work in the Arc­tic Coun­cil until a sat­is­fac­to­ry solu­tion is found for the prob­lem and will enter into a real nego­ti­a­tion process with the new Cana­di­an pres­i­den­cy as soon as pos­si­ble. How­ev­er Per Berthelsen, mem­ber of the social-demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty of Green­land, Siu­mut, doubts that Cana­da will be more open for a more direct par­tic­i­pa­tion of Green­land in the Arc­tic Coun­cil.

Swedish For­eign Min­is­ter Carl Bildt reject­ed crit­i­cism of the Swedish chair­man­ship in this con­text. He points to an agree­ment with Den­mark, which is con­sis­tent with how this prob­lem was han­dled in the past and called the issue an inter­nal prob­lem between Green­land and Den­mark. Accord­ing to the Green­landic Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion KNR Bildt specif­i­cal­ly named Green­landic domes­tic pol­i­tics play­ing a major role for the boy­cott, as well as the new Green­landic gov­ern­ment.

Dan­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Vil­ly Søvn­dal regrets the deci­sion of the Green­landic prime min­is­ter and hopes that there soon will be a basis for Green­land tak­ing part in the Arc­tic Coun­cil again. Leona Aglukkaq, Canada’s min­is­ter respon­si­ble for the Arc­tic Coun­cil remarked in the same direc­tion but want­ed to call Ham­mond after the meet­ing because “it’s impor­tant to make sure that the work that we do” is influ­enced by Inu­it. This might be espe­cial­ly impor­tant as Green­land is the only Arc­tic nation with a major­i­ty of the pop­u­la­tion con­sist­ing of indige­nous Arc­tic peo­ple.

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