Thursday, 27 November 2008

Greenland Goes For Home Rule

Greenland is about to become an independent nation. Certain links with Denmark however will be maintained. Presumably it will be the 28th member of the European Union.
It appears that the divorce will be amicable.

Greenland: Further cracks in ties with Denmark?

Greenland, the world's largest island, is to vote Tuesday on whether it wants greater independence from Denmark, which colonized it nearly 300 years ago.

Greenland - 2,200,000 square kilometers, or 850,000 square miles, some 80 percent of which is covered by ice - has steadily been gaining more autonomy for decades and has had its own home-rule government since 1979. But it still depends on Denmark for much of its budget and is bound by Danish decisions in a variety of policy areas.

If it passes, the referendum on Tuesday will pave the way for Greenland's eventual independence from Denmark. The measure would allow Greenlanders to be recognized as a separate people under international law; make the Eskimo-Inuit tongue known as Greenlandic the island's official language; and give the home-rule government the option of taking more responsibility over areas like justice, defense and foreign affairs.

Perhaps more importantly, a "yes" vote would allow Greenland the opportunity to wean itself from its annual grant of $550 million by giving it control of the revenues from potential oil, gas and mineral finds. Experts say that huge quantities of natural resources are lurking offshore and under Greenland's melting ice cap, but it remains to be seen exactly what is there and how much it is worth.

Native Greenlanders have been talking about independence for years, but not until now has the island felt emboldened to take the next step toward it.
Polls show that the proposals have overwhelming support among Greenland's population of more than 56,000, nearly 90 percent of whom are native-born Inuits. About 39,000 people are eligible to vote.

"The future of Greenland is being strengthened a lot with this," said Hans Jakob Helms, political adviser to Lars Emil Johansen, one of two Greenlandic members of the Danish Parliament. "This allows the Greenlandic people to decide themselves if, at a later date, they want independence."

Greenland has come a long way economically in the last few decades. But while 60 percent of its people live in the six largest towns, the rest live in more than 120 isolated, austere settlements and trading posts that have perhaps one store apiece and few job opportunities.

Outside the towns, people make their living by hunting and fishing. There is no national road network, and people rely on boats and planes to travel - weather permitting - from one area to another. Besides several dialects of Greenlandic, English and Danish is spoken.

Greenlanders stress that it may be several decades before Greenland is able to declare complete independence from Denmark but said that the vote was the next step in a long evolution toward that goal.

"Home rule was a compromise," Helms said. "It's a simple fact that home rule has reached its limit and there's a need for more room for self-government."

(acknowledgments to Ray Bell)


Damon Lord said...

Greenland is unlikely in my opinion to be part of the EU. Greenland left the EU in 1985 by referendum, originally being brought in by Denmark. Due to disagreements, particularly over Greenland's fishing.

Anonymous said...

Damon's probably right here, because they have rejected the EU in the 1980s.

What about a member of NAFTA? As there is a big American early warning base there (to stop Russian missiles), the US will have a big influence on the Greenlandic economy, which could be negative. Possibly, dragging them into NAFTA, as well as NATO could be part of the one sided "bargain".

- Raymond Bell

Anonymous said...

discuss Greenland too.

Anonymous said...

Further links. As you might expect, the BBC begins with

"Danish politicians say Greenland is still years away from true autonomy, despite its vote for greater self-rule."

Well, they would, wouldn't they. The BBC article also plays up the issue of corruption. Well, the USA and Russia are monster states, and both of them have corruption problems too.

- Ray Bell

kerdasi amaq said...

The real demand behind Independence: is a demand for equality.

Independence cannot be granted, as Wales was never a part of England. It can only be recognised. That is: England recognises the Welsh as an equal independent sovereign people and nothing else.