Kuupik Vandersee Kleist, chairman of Naalakkersuisut
Fellow citizens and everyone in Greenland
This morning we woke to a brand new year. The time of darkness is past. I wish everyone the very best for the New Year.
I hope that your Christmas has been peaceful and replenishing of body and soul, so that we can all stand together to face the challenges the New Year will bring.
Thank you for the year we have spent together.
A historic year
The year 2012 will be remembered as a very special one in our history, a true milestone.
The desire for Greenland to enjoy industrial and economic development has been expressed for many years, and the way has been long and the challenges great. 2012 was the year when real political steps were made towards making that desire a reality.
I'm thinking, of course, of the legislation passed by Inatsisartut on 7 December, to regulate future large-scale activity in raw materials and industry. This legislation provides the framework for a very necessary development of our economy.
We are working constantly to ensure that Greenlandic society benefits to the utmost from the raw material and other large-scale projects we hope will come to fruition. We know that the legislation now in place gives us a good foundation for guaranteeing our raw material incomes. It's also essential that we always make use of the best possible expertise to ensure that Greenland does not lose out on these incomes in the future. This is why Naalakkersuisut has decided to appoint an international group of experts to advise Greenland on an ongoing basis about how the autonomous administration can ensure the best possible control over its incomes.
2012 was also the year when Naalakkersuisut presented its 2025 plan: "Our future – your responsibility and mine", in which we put forward our ideas for how to ensure a future Greenland that is strong, but also able to afford welfare. No matter whether we develop new industries or not, it is essential that we put reforms in place to make sure we can afford a welfare state in the future. Hence 2012 was also the year in which we began trialogues with employers' and employees' representatives and organisations. I am very grateful for this co-operation.
2012 was also marked by other important political developments.
It was very gratifying recently to note that not only has unemployment stopped growing, but the number of people unemployed has begun to fall. This is also another positive sign of our economy strengthening.
But this is not enough. We still lack new jobs. So in 2013, Naalakkersuisut will redouble its efforts to implement the employment plan and activate the Employment Council.
Happily, good market prices for fish and shellfish have been maintained, which has made it possible to reopen some fish factories, which in turn has brought increased earnings as seen over the past 4-5 years.
We have enjoyed a good, fruitful partnership with the municipalities and KANUKOKA over the past year. We are pleased with the positive impact this has had on business, and we wish to congratulate municipalities for focusing on sustainability in their development work.
Another important reason for calling 2012 a milestone year is that Greenland has assumed a new and important role on the international stage. 2012 was the year when Greenland made its global breakthrough.
Transition to sustainable fisheries
Legislative and administrative fisheries reforms are not yet complete, but must be soon. We plan to implement the necessary remaining measures in the course of 2013.
We still have work to do to establish a shared understanding of the situation in the fishing industry. There remain areas where very detailed negotiations are still needed in order to find solutions that satisfy all parties.
We intend to continue our work in close dialogue with fisheries organisations, employees and employers, as well as other stakeholders in the industry.
Making better use of the country's resources
After several years of intensive work towards reforms in fisheries, the time has now come for renewal in agriculture.
Much of sheep farmers' building stock and machinery is superannuated. Some sheep farmers are keeping their heads above water, but we need all of them if we are to improve agriculture.
We have therefore appointed an agriculture commission to examine developments for the coming years.
Among the tasks of the commission will be to make recommendations on:
1) economically self-sufficient and modern agriculture,
2) Agriculture that makes a significant contribution to our self-supply of foodstuffs – not only meat, but also vegetables.
The commission will spend 2013 working intensively, and will present its findings to Naalakkersuisut and Inatsisartut in spring 2014. The plan is for the economic parts to be incorporated in the Budget proposal for 2015.
I also wish to point out that we are working intensively to open up alternative markets for our products from the sea, especially seal skins. We have very high hopes for the new contacts we have made with China and South Korea. There are good grounds for nurturing the Asian markets. From a global perspective, this is where economic growth is happening.
Basis for our development
A number of new laws come into force today, 1 January, including some concerning municipal schools and our education system.
I would like here to draw attention to the new provisions regarding children of preschool age.
To give preschool children as good a start in life as possible, all 3-year-olds will be examined by an educationalist and a nurse, and all 5-year-olds will be tested for school readiness.
The municipal school should be even better than it is. We must improve when it comes to implementing the measures already in force, and we must improve when it comes to giving guidance. We must remember that the right guidance and support at the right time can be of great importance, especially for our children and young people.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the NAKUUSA Youth forum. Among the things we will remember 2012 for is the slogan "suli anaanamik, suli ataatamik" ("more mother, more father"). You were like a breath of fresh air. You opened our eyes and I have no doubt that your clarion call will resound in the mountains for a long time.
It is my earnest hope that many more of you will pursue higher education than the generations before you when you reach that age. To achieve that goal, we are busy establishing more college places and expanding several institutes of higher education.
The times dictate that we must acquaint ourselves with other languages and cultures, so we want to make it easier for people to go on language study trips and continuing education classes. We hope that many will make use of these opportunities.
I also wish to point out that it has become clear that people are taking more responsibility for their own health. There are also more and more people taking treatment to create better conditions for their families so that they can live better in society. This creates pride and deserves respect. You are role models.
The future is what matters
Naalakkersuisut is prioritising education, employment and welfare in its work. These are areas that absolutely must always be emphasised.
Our goal is to get young people making the most of their potential, real jobs that last, and a society that is based on principles of solidarity and partnership.
Firstly, we will work to continue bringing down unemployment. We are working with municipalities, public and private companies. We have high hope for our employment plan, which lasts until 2018.
Secondly, we will extend our building and infrastructure plans to cover the whole country. As we know, there is a chronic shortage of housing, especially in Nuuk. So there is no doubt that 2013 too will be a busy year for building and infrastructure work.
Thirdly, we hope that mineral mining operations will open at Qeqertarsuatsiaat and Killavaat Alannguat. Certainly, our country has plentiful mineral riches, but as long as they are lying in the ground and not being used, they are of no benefit to anyone.
Fourthly, we are busy establishing the basis for ruling on the establishment of new runways and harbours so that Inatsisartut can make these important decisions. This is substantial and complicated work involving the relevant parliamentary committees.
In terms of transport and freight projects, our two highest priorities at the moment are the expansion of Nuuk harbour and preparations for the building of the airport at Qaqortoq.
Fifthly, we intend to renew people's involvement in democracy. Since the large municipalities were established, major changes have taken place in the partnership between the authorities and the populace, so a priority for us is to find solutions strengthening local democracy.
In my New Year Address last year I called on everyone to be more involved in the debate about society.
That call has been well heard. Over the past year, a very lively debate has unfolded around us. It is a very good thing that so many people are making their voices heard.
But I do think that there is one flaw in the way our debating culture has been developing. Verbal combat has become the order of the day, especially among elected representatives. It is not acceptable that political debate gets drowned out in an ever-intensifying struggle for power. It is not acceptable that people feel threatened because of what they believe and think. This is not healthy for debate.
With the coming elections to all popularly elected assemblies this year in mind, I hope very much that the election campaigns will be about politics and that we do not fall into the temptation of decrying our opponents.
We must insist on our shared values, such as equality and our need for partnership, and we must show tolerance for our fellow man.
I would like to take this opportunity of quoting a poem I like very much. The poem is "Naammanngilarmi ai" (»It is not enough, ai») by Frederik Kristensen, Kunngi.
People in motion
Must have belief
Those obstacles on the road
Can be overcome
Be given the strength
To pull together
For the common benefit
Stand up - stand by me
Go with me
You who have the strength
Your country will be renewed,
Strength, courage and determination
Of his people in motion
To dream the dream
About the future,
To hope for a
To use wisdom and knowledge
In our benchmarks
- It is the way forward.
So my wish for 2013 is that we use the year to talk about our shared values and to try and live up to them.
The current parliamentary term is almost over. As a society, we have reached a crucial point in our development. If we are to live up to our responsibilities, we need to take new actions to secure our shared future. We must have the courage to confront our habits, attitudes and taboos when they do not make a positive contribution to the future of coming generations. No one but us can make these decisions. In an age and a world where we, as inhabitants of this planet, feel ourselves more and more to be sharing a joint fate, we must decide for ourselves which way we will go. If we don't do it ourselves, if we lack the courage and fail to take responsibility, circumstances and the world outside Greenland will decide our future.
Dear countrymen, the time has come for us to show ourselves and the world around us that we have the will and the means to secure a better future than the past we leave behind us.
I want to extend my thanks to everyone we have met and worked with in the year that came to an end yesterday. Thank you for enriching our lives. In particular, I want to thank our older citizens for contributing by giving advice and support in spite of the tribulations age can bring, and I want to call on our young people and their children to take every opportunity to care for the elderly. Even just drinking a cup of coffee together can mean a great deal.
I thank all those I have not mentioned in this New Year Address and beg your forgiveness for the omission. May 2013 bring progress and health to us all.
I wish you all a good and blessed New Year.
Kuupik V. Kleist