Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic October 11, 2011 - 11:09 am

Greenland’s premier presents vision for 2050

"A rich society with a high degree of unity and equality"

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Greenland in 2050 will be a rich and independent state, says Greenland's premier Kuupik Kleist. (FILE PHOTO)
Greenland in 2050 will be a rich and independent state, says Greenland's premier Kuupik Kleist. (FILE PHOTO)

Kuupik Kleist, Greenland’s premier, has a vision for what Greenland, Nunavut’s closest neighbour, will look like in 2050 — and his vision calls for a richer, much more independent Greenland based on resource development and higher education.

Speaking Oct. 11 to the legislature in Nuuk about Greenland’s foreign policy in 2011, Kleist said that in 2050 Greenland will be “one of three independent states” in the North Atlantic.

The other two, the Faroe Islands and Denmark, are now part of the Danish realm.

But in 2050, Greenland, the Faroes and Denmark will be connected in a new “national community based on solidarity, community spirit and strong historical ties,” Kleist said, according to an Oct. 11 report in the Greenlandic newspaper, Sermitsiaq/AG.

In 2050, Greenland’s gross domestic product, which is the market value of all goods and services produced within a country in a given period, will be comparable to that of other Nordic countries, Kleist said.

According to the World Bank, all five Nordic countries, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, now rank in the top 10, when measuring GDP per capita.

The Greenland of 2050 will be “a rich society with a high degree of unity and equality in the distribution of income and opportunities,” Kleist said.

But to achieve that goal in just over 38 years, Greenland will have to direct all its energy towards becoming an economically-independent state, he said.

“The tools to achieve the goal [lie in] oil and mining, industries based on hydro-electric power, [and] an open society with foreign specialists in certain industries,” along with increased educational levels and better English skills among people in Greenland.

There can be “no doubt that the international interest in our part of the world is rising in these years,” Kleist said.

And climate change may make the old dream of sailing through the Northwest and Northeast passages real, while less sea ice may make it easier to exploit oil and minerals offshore, he said.

Next year, Greenland plans to open new oil and gas fields off the coast of northeast Greenland, and “the oil companies are preparing today for oil drilling in Baffin Bay right up to the village Savissivik” on the northern coast of Melville Bay, not far from Ellesmere Island, he said.

As for Greenland’s foreign policy, Kleist said he plans to promote Greenland’s role in an increasingly connected world and strengthen Greenland’s independent identity on the international scene.

“Greenland must strengthen its international influence through active efforts in defense and security, climate and resources, trade and commerce, Arctic co-operation, Nordic co-operation, relations with other states, and the work of international organizations such as the European Union and United Nations,” he said.

Greenland’s current self-governance law, approved by a huge majority in a Greenland-wide referendum in 2008, still links Greenland to Denmark, but gives Greenland control of its police force, coast guard, and courts.

Greenlandic, spoken by about 95 per cent of the island’s 57,000 residents, is now the island’s official language.

As for money, the Danish subsidy to Greenland known as the block grant, worth $638 million (3.2 billion kroner) remains in place.

But if oil or mineral resources are developed, the self-rule deal says the first $16 million goes to Greenland. Then, money will be split between Denmark and Greenland and deducted from the block grant.

Greenland will be able to seek full independence when its revenues are equal to double the amount of the block grant.

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