Statement at the New Year’s Reception, January 9, 2013

His Excellency, the Premier of Greenland Mr. Kuupik Vandersee
Dear Ministers, Excellences, Members of Parliament, ladies and gentlemen – friends and colleagues.

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to this New Year’s gathering.

This Reception is one that my colleagues and I look forward to with excitement as it is a rare opportunity to meet our extended Danish family represented by the Government of Denmark, the Folketing, civil society and the business community as well as the Copenhagen Diplomatic corps.

Looking back at the year 2012, I will allow my self to exclaim: WHAT A YEAR!

Following my government’s legislative initiative on a framework bill on international tendering in relation to large-scale projects, 2012 became a year filled with interesting and at times even dramatic debates. The intense discussions in Greenland were echoed in Denmark by an overwhelming media coverage and debate.

Against this background, it is and was with a great sense of satisfaction that Inatsisartut, our Parliament, adopted this and other related bills on December 7. We now have the important regulatory framework in place, which will allow us to process applications to exploit our rich natural resources which would in the future contribute to diversify and infuse resilience in our economy.

Despite the exciting potentials of new industries, the sustainable exploitation of marine resources are and will continue to be of vital importance to Greenland. More than 90% of our exports are caught in the sea. Throughout the centuries, our people have lived in balance with “Sassuma arnaa” – the mother of the sea, and we are fully guided by the scientific advice on sustainable catches, including at the IWC, where we will continue to follow the advice of the IWC scientific committee.

For the development of large-scale projects, it goes without saying that unless entry and residence permit can be granted to the required temporary foreign labor force; the large-scale projects cannot take off. Amendments to current Danish immigration legislation will be tabled in the Folketing in the coming few months.

I have to admit that I find it difficult to recognize my Greenland in the dramatic and sometimes frightening doomsday scenarios, I read in the media regarding the legislation on large-scale projects. Let me make it clear, this legislation is very, very important for Greenland and our future development. And this is why I am happy that it was adopted with such a large majority by our Parliament after a very thorough domestic debate. We are keenly aware of the importance for Greenland to pursue a balanced development, but like other countries with a colonial past, we can also be rather sensitive to being lectured on what we ought to do and what we ought not do.

Greenland does have aspirations for greater autonomy as it is stipulated in the Act of Self Government for Greenland and we do want to and indeed have the right to exercise self-determination and to have a relationship with Denmark as one between equals. So it ought not come as a surprise that we actually do exercise self-determination on a daily basis. Let me confide in you by saying that “secession” is not the first thing on my mind when I wake up in the morning. The exercise of self-determination and the responsibilities that comes with it, are much more pertinent than speculations on possible future constitutional arrangements between Denmark and Greenland…and not to forget…our Faroese brothers and sisters.

We share a long history and a strong interconnectedness with Denmark, that also gives Denmark a definite “competitive advantage” in our development endeavors. We will continue to make our history with Denmark within the boundaries of a dynamic, forward looking and mutually enriching family equation.

Like in previous years, 2012 was also a year where we renewed the collaboration that we have with our friends and neighbours in the Arctic and in the North Atlantic as well as with the EU. Likewise, we are pleased with the results achieved for the Overseas Countries and Territories of the EU during Greenland’s chairmanship of the OCT association. We were also very pleased with the visit of the 27 EU ambassadors during Denmark’s presidency of the EU.

Besides, these “traditional” relations, we continued to develop and expand our international relationships:

In September 2012, I had the honor and pleasure of receiving the President of the Republic of Korea, Lee Myung-bak together with the Korean Ministers for Foreign Affairs and for Knowledge Economy respectively. The visit resulted in important MoUs and Letters of Intent reflecting the mutual interest in furthering cooperation between Greenland and the Republic of Korea on issues related to research, science and resource development. I in turn visited Seoul in December 2012, joined by a Greenlandic business and cultural delegation. I would like to express my very warmest gratitude to the government of the Republic of Korea and the Korean business and scientific community for the warm hospitality offered to my delegation and me.

I would like to thank all of you, who visited us in Greenland during the year, and also for the many invitations for visits, which we, unfortunately, due to time constraints, were not able to honour. Let me assure you that such visits and invitations as well as the growing number of countries that wish to establish consulates in Greenland is of an enormous encouragement to us.

The interest from many quarters and corners of society in Denmark, in the Nordic and Arctic countries, the EU and the international community at large and your eagerness to work with us have been astounding – and flattering – but most of all reassuring. I thank you for that. And let us continue our cooperation and our talks in 2013 –we have much to explore!

Dear Friends – Let me end by commending and expressing my gratitude for the good cooperation that we had in our 2012 “Oh –what a year”-year – and please receive my best wishes for a prosperous and happy New Year.