Proposes to be connected to US instead of Denmark
By Mikael Hertig, M of Sci Pol *
Recently Donald Trump proposed the Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen to buy Greenland of Denmark. This was immediately refused.
“Greenland belongs to The Greenlanders”, Mette Frederiksen said.
Since 2009, Greenland has “Self Rule” but recognized as part of “Kingdom of Denmark” consisting of Denmark, The Faroe Islands, Greenland and Denmark. This position is somewhat ambiguos. In Greenland there has been and still is consensus supporting full independence on the condition that the Greenlandic economy should be sustainable.
A minority is working for independence now. The most radical at this point is Party Naleraq. (= guidepost). Until recently the general impression was that independence meant total sovereignty. Greenland should be seen as an independent, sovereign state just like ie. Iceland.
OST or Independent?
The question of which formal status such a new Greenland should have seems a little unclear. Pele Broberg has corrected the original version insisting that Greenland should be independent. Nevertheless the new position not as OST (OverSeas Territory), but under US dominance instead of Danish seems somewhat surprising. Parti Naleraq will not sell Greenland; Greenland should still maintain Self Rule; however, it should be examined what US and Trump will be willing to offer, Party Leader Pele Broberg says.
“Pele Broberg will not sell Greenland. “This is totally excluded.” But he wants to examine, what USA will do for an independent Greenland. According to this he has especially noticed Trumps will to take over “Bloktilskuddet”, the annual fee of 500 million dollars that Greenland receives from Denmark,” the Danish Paper Jyllands-Posten writes.
“US is willing to support our economy based on an annual fee of 0, 6 billion $ a year. Because of this, the Greenlandic people is now for the first time standing at a crossroad for the first time. We do have an alternative to the Danish financing model,” Broberg said to the Greenlandic paper “Sermitsiaq”.
Broberg recognizes and acknowledges the fact that Trump and USA is acting out of own geostrategic interest. Partii Naleraqs point is that the protection of Greenland’s territory already relies on USA more than Denmark. Secondly, it is a question of money. According to Broberg, it can be seen as a bargaining process.
Naleraq chairman also emphasized that it should be easier to develop independent foreign policy under US than under Denmark. This is surprising. Who spoke of Maryland’s foreign policy?
Thus, Broberg’s idea is that freedom from Denmark and direct dependence of USA might be a better option than continuing as part of the”Rigsfællesskab”, the Danish name for the three ‘countries’. The idea is to examine the degree of autonomy offered under American jurisdiction compared to Danish. The proposition should be understood as an idea of establishing an auction-type bargaining position.
Until now, the dialogue of Greenlands path towards independence solely has been Danish-Greenlandic and building on terms defined by the Danish consititutional understanding of the historic proces of decolonization of Greenland.
Apparently, the newly Trump scandal in August 2019 resulting in a crisis between USA and Denmark has stregthened the understanding between the governments of Denmark and Greenland. This is also due to a remarkable change in the Danish attitude to Greenland after the new election of a Social Democratic center-left- government. This resulted in a good and narrow relation between the Prime Ministers Kielsen (Greenland) and Frederiksen (Denmark). Kielsens position as leader of the Siumut party recently was challenged because of his pragmatic and seemingly pro Danish position. His response to Trump : “Greenland is not for sale, but open to business” reinforced his position so won a confidence vote in Siumut.
Modelling new Greenlandic new approaches to Greenland independence policies
The Naleraq party’s message is surprising. However, it seems to coincide with modern Small Island (Archipelagos) political research. Greenland has an unique position being both a colony, now Danish OST and at the same time recognized as an indigenous people.
When dealing with small islands of stragic interest the concept normally is anticipated to the politics of “small islands”. However, Greenland with 57.000 inhabitants in Greenland and about 15-20.000 Greenlanders living in Denmark belongs to American sphere of interest.
Danish foreign politics has for the last 18 years been built on a strictly loyal – until submissive position towards US foreign politics. The idea has been that with extreme loyalty to US military actions and full support for almost everything, Denmark would build up political capital as recognized Arctic power. The Trump scandal clearly demonstrates this as a chimera.
So – why should Greenland in the long run be so connected to Denmark? That is the question raised by party Naleraq.
Until now, Greenlanders have not compared themselves with other islands as Puerto Rico and The Dominican Republic under US auspices. Or, with Guadeloupe or Martinque under French. The auction model could be a new way to be “open for business”?
But there will be two serious constraints to be aware of.
- Protecting the people in strategic manner (deployment of bases and airports from a military, not to protect the Greenlanders but North America.
- Greenland wil surely loose ownership of its raw materials, Rare minerals, Oil, Uranium.
Seen from the Danish point of view Danes until now have seen the “ownership” of Greenland as inevitably and ever unchangeable. As a Dane with some kind of positive feelings towards the Danish-Greenlandic relationship with the idea of being more respectful this idea offends me. But I think it is opening for a new discussion in a proper and surprising way.
* Mikael Hertig is studying International Law and International Security (MOISL) at University of Southern Denmark