The long road of diplomacy: The cooperation between Greenland & the United States
Written by: Minister of Education, Culture, Church and Foreign Affairs, Ane Lone Bagger
all other countries, our country wants international cooperation, both
bilaterally with individual countries and through international organizations
and other multilateral cooperation. For several years, Naalakkersuisut/The
Government of Greenland has worked to establish greater cooperation with
countries that are important to our country, with the aim of securing
Greenland's interests and views.
is the reason why our country opened our first Representation in Brussels in
1992 and later in 2014 the Representation in Washington, D.C. and the
Representation in Reykjavik followed in 2018. Through these initiatives, we
have worked purposefully to develop our working relationship with the rest of
the world, in order to be able to safeguard, protect and articulate our
interests. Each year, Naalakkersuisut publishes a foreign policy report that
highlights Greenland's foreign policy work and interests.
close and good political cooperation with my colleague, Danish Foreign Minister
Jeppe Kofod. There is also a good cooperation on the administrative level
between Nuuk and Copenhagen. Though it is important that it is our own
professional diplomats, with deep insights into our society and political
reality and with roots in our language and culture, who represent our country
own Representations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nuuk work closely
together and in coordination with the Danish diplomats at the embassies and at
the Foreign Ministry in Copenhagen. In this collaboration, our own diplomats
are to be considered as the necessary quality assurance in the foreign policy
cooperation between Greenland and Denmark, in order to safeguard Greenland's
interests in the Kingdom's overall foreign policy.
noted, the Arctic and our country have become more interesting to international
players. We saw this back in 2008, when foreign ministers from major countries,
such as the United States and Russia, traveled to Ilulissat to sign the
Ilulissat Declaration, the agreement that should secure the Arctic as a
peaceful part of the world, with widespread political and economic cooperation
between the Arctic states.
Ilulissat Declaration was reaffirmed in 2018, again with our country as an
active host. There should be no doubt here that a peaceful and cooperative
Arctic will always be the goal of Naalakkersuisut/The Government of Greenland.
we must not be blind to the ongoing political developments in the Arctic and it
is therefore important that we actively participate in the dialogue about the
Arctic. Naturally, with a decisive voice in the Arctic foreign policy of the
Kingdom of Denmark, including in terms of the Arctic Council.
has been a change in the Arctic in recent decades, due to among other things,
climate change, with consequences of open sailing routes and more activity in
the mineral industry sector and tourism. There have also been changes in
relations between the great powers over the last decade, although this is
primarily manifested outside the Arctic.
though not blind to the signs of increased militarization in the Arctic as it
develops these years. However, we must also remember that the increased
civilian activity in the Arctic can also lead to increased military presence,
including search and rescue missions and environmental monitoring.
changes in the Arctic are not in any way only affairs of the great powers, but
are in particular a matter for us who call the Arctic our home. We must
therefore secure, that we who live in the Arctic are the ones to define and
represent the Arctic, as well as benefit from the opportunities that the
changes in the Arctic may bring, both in terms of political and climatic
attention has been paid to the central geographical location of our country, or
perhaps a new focus has been placed on this fact. In recent years we have seen
how this has resulted in several visits by senior officials from the US
administration in particular. It has been their first visit to our country for
most of these traveling officials, but it is not the first time we had to
present the goals and plans of the Government of Greenland on our country's
position and economy.
Cooperation with the United States:
representation in Washington, D.C. has worked to promote trade, cooperation and
exchange since its opening in 2014. In addition to this, the representation promotes
the views and interests of Greenland to various American stakeholders, within
the diplomatic activities of the Kingdom’s Embassy on Whitehaven Street in
Government of Greenland wants to further develop trade with the United States
and this desire has been promoted since the signing of the Igaliku Agreement in
2004. The Igaliku Agreement is a set of agreements that define, among other
things, the American military presence at Pituffik (Thule), as well as a
broad-based US-Greenland civil partnership, an agreement signed on behalf of
our country by the then Government of Greenland minister for foreign affairs.
it takes time to develop close relationships, and the Igaliku Agreement did not
bear fruit from one day to another. Although the development of the cooperation
has required time, we consider the new projected cooperation with the United
States as a step in the right direction.
especially through the Representation in Washington D.C., has also succeeded in
establishing closer relationships not only with the US federal government, but
also directly with states such as Maine and Alaska. This cooperation with
individual states is quite natural, where Maine is particularly relevant due to
its geographical proximity, with the consequent chances of trade. Similarly,
cooperation with Alaska is obvious, not only because both Greenland and Alaska
are part of the Arctic, but also because we have strong cultural and linguistic
ties to our kinsmen in Alaska.
we have developed relations to members of the US Congress who have visited our
country and who influence US foreign policy priorities.
have thus established relationships with people in the United States who highly
prioritizes cooperation with Greenland. We have worked purposefully to present
and promote the opportunities in our country among our neighbors in the West,
and continuously give presentations on our activities aimed at growth and to achieve
a self-sustaining economy in Greenland.
community has also focused on developing relationships with the United States,
where the shipping line Royal Arctic Line's cooperation with Eimskip in
particular has great potential. The seafood company Royal Greenland has also
opened a sales office in Boston, just over an hour's drive from Maine. Overall,
these positive developments within our business community will achieve closer
trade with the geographically neighboring market in North America.
Collaboration and mutual benefits – Pituffik (Thule Air
Government of Greenland, together with the Danish government, has worked to
ensure the greatest possible benefits to Greenland from the US military
presence in our country. Here, in particular, the base maintenance contract at
Pituffik (Thule) is the core of our relations, and we have repeatedly expressed
this to the United States, including at meetings directly with American
politicians and officials.
is a clear renewed US interest in our country, including with regard to
dual-use investments in our infrastructure.
Government of Greenland's requirement is that the cooperation and relationship
must first and foremost come together with a proper solution concerning the base
maintenance contract at Pituffik (Thule).
solution to the contract issue must here be regarded as a basic premise in the
cooperation. It must thus be a solution that is naturally linked to Pituffik,
as well as having a real substantial economic value for our country and which,
last and not least, is future-proofed.
Cooperation also in the field of minerals:
common knowledge that Naalakkersuisut/Government of Greenland is constantly
working to create an economically sustainable Greenland, where we are not
dependent on just one or two sources of income. Today, as you may be aware, we
are financially dependent mainly on fishing industry as well as the yearly block
grant from the Danish Government. Our efforts to achieve our goal on economic
sustainability includes development of tourism industry, export of our clean glacial
water, and development of the mineral sector.
there is nothing new into the American interest in our minerals. The US market
has previously been important to the Greenlandic mineral industry, where
especially the cryolite mine in Ivittuut from very early in the mine's lifetime
in the 1800’s had the US as a crucial market. We now see a renewed American interest
in the geology of Greenland.
also important to observe that this has been a lengthy process, as the US
Department of State’s work to support the development of the mineral sector in
Greenland started during the previous US administration, when the United States
had the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. It was also around the same time
that we opened our representation in the United States.
should be emphasized that Naalakkersuisut always works for Greenland's
interests. Cooperation is a joint effort, naturally with mutual benefits and
there is nothing odious or mysterious about the United States interest in our
country's minerals. However, this willingness on our part to cooperate with our
great neighbor in the West does not in any way mean that other nations are
excluded from cooperating with us.
open to cooperation with all nations, and this includes cooperation in the
mineral sector. Nevertheless, cooperation and foreign investment in the mineral
sector will of course only take place with the clear condition, that our legislation
and standards are fully complied with.
in our interest as well as the United States that we are good neighbors,
including through an offer of cooperation in the form of development
initiatives within our mineral sector. The process of this recently announced
collaboration started as early as 2015, but only last year in June 2019 did
specific results come in the form of the two aforementioned memoranda of
on these memoranda of understanding, flight-based geological surveys were
conducted during last summer in South Greenland. This was a project in
collaboration with the United States, paid for by US project funds, but where
the data collected will be made available to the public.
Collaboration and good relations:
and associated institutions, together with the US State Department, are in the
process of developing in details the new cooperation, amounting to a total
value of approximately $12.1 million USD. The cooperation is conducted in areas
of competence where Greenland has full jurisdiction, including but not limited
to education, business, energy and minerals.
I wish to express that this new aspect of our natural cooperation with our
great neighbor in the West will be mutually beneficial, and contribute to our
country's further economic development and good relations with the United