Now Greenland considers independence from Denmark during election campaigns

15 March 2018
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The Greenlandic parliament has 31 seats. Photo Submitted by Suinni Fleischer Johansen

 

Calls for self-determination by dependent territories across the world seem to be growing with the latest calls coming from Greenland, news which must re-assure other territories agitating for self-determination like Barotseland that they are not alone in their struggle for independence because seeking self-determination is neither a crime nor is it abnormal.

Greenland is a self-governing country within the Kingdom of Denmark and has a population of about 56,000 people.

Greenland's parliament has decided that its next election will be held on April 24th 2018, Greenlandic Broadcasting Corporation, KNR, reported on Tuesday.

The last election was in 2014 when the Siumut party won more than one third of the votes. That year Kim Kielsen became prime minister when Aleqa Hammond was forced to resign over a scandal involving spending of public money on hotels and flights.

Aside from its defence and security, the island gained self-government in 2009, after 76 per cent of voters voted in favour of self-rule in a referendum. Since then, most politicians have aimed for growing autonomy and eventual independence from Denmark.

MOST CANDIDATES WANT INDEPENDENCE

Suinni Fleischer Johansen, a candidate for the Siumut party, says all the established parties agree that independence is the goal, but disagree about the process.

"Some want it tomorrow, some want to prepare," Johansen said, adding that there is also discussion about whether to become independent and stay within the Kingdom of Denmark or whether to become a republic.

Suinni Fleischer Johansen is a candidate for the Siumut party. He says Greenland wants independence so it can act on its own, instead of through Denmark, on the international stage. For example, he says he would like to forge stronger relationships with Inuit societies around the world.

For that reason, Johansen says he would like to see English become the accepted second language after Inuktitut, instead of the third language after Inuktitut and Danish.

The country has tried to attract foreign investment into its vast untapped hydrocarbon and mineral resources but a lack of infrastructure and slow bureaucracy have limited development.

Greenland's economy is largely dependent on its fishing industry. It receives an annual grant from Denmark of around 3.7 billion Danish crowns ($793.79 million), about a quarter of its GDP.

GREENLAND - KALAALLIT NUNAAT BACKGROUND

In the 18th century Danes began to colonize the island and in 1953 Greenland was made an integral part of Denmark.

In 1978 the Danish parliament granted Greenland self-government and in the following year the law went into effect.

Denmark continues to exercise control of Greenland's foreign affairs, but Greenland actively participates in international agreements relating to Greenland.

In 1973 Greenland joined the European Union with Denmark but withdrew in 1985 over a dispute over stringent fishing quotas.

POLITICAL SYSTEM

Greenland is the world's largest island and an autonomous Danish dependent territory with limited self-government and its own parliament and a multi-party system.

The Head of state is the monarch of Denmark, represented by a High Commissioner. Head of government is the Prime Minister (Premier), elected by Parliament. The Parliament of Greenland is the country's legislative branch.

Denmark contributes two thirds of Greenland's budget revenue, the rest coming mainly from fishing. Potential oil, gas and rare earth mineral reserves have attracted prospecting firms.

Greenland enjoys perpetual daylight for two months each year but over 80% of the island is covered by an ice cap 4km thick in places. Global warming is feared to be causing the ice cover to melt increasingly fast but has also increased access to Greenland's mineral resources.

The USA has long seen Greenland as strategically important and established a radar base at Thule at the start of the Cold War.

The island's population is only about 57,000 challenged with severe social problems, notably unemployment, alcoholism and HIV/AIDS.

SOURCES: BBC, Reuters, CBCNews, The New York Times, One World Nations Online.

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The Barotseland Post, also known as The Barotsepost, is an online media platform, for now, that is dedicated to reporting stories and news around Barotseland and beyond, giving exclusive coverage and access to the people and the nation of Barotseland to fully express themselves in their aspirations for self- determination.