Greenland and the Faroe Islands took another step towards greater autonomy on foreign affairs and defence on Monday, signing the terms of reference with Denmark for the creation of a special contact committee.
The committee was earlier announced June 10 after after the last meeting of the realm between Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands.
Greenland, along with the Faroe Islands, are autonomous territories within the Kingdom of Denmark, with Denmark responsible for foreign affairs and defence.
But both governments have long argued the need to pursue their own foreign policy interests and policies.
More “elbow room” says Greenland PM
Greenland’s Prime Minister Mute Bourup Egede said the terms of reference were an important step to improving the partnership between the three governments.
“The establishment of the committee testifies to our common interest in strengthening cooperation across our countries,” Egede said in a news release.
“Not least to deal with the diversity of the countries’ own interests and common interests. At the same time, it will strengthen Greenland’s active participation in international relations in the globalized world, and create more elbow room which I have high expectations for.“
Also announced after the June 10 meeting, was to give Greenland and Faroe Islands a greater voice on the Arctic Council, an international forum of the eight circumpolar countries, with Denmark saying Greenland would now speak first at ministerial meetings, followed by the Faroe Islands, with Denmark speaking last.
‘Arctic increasingly in the spotlight’
The Faroe Islands’ Prime Minister Bardur a Steig Nielsen says the terms signed Monday are another step towards a greater voice on Arctic affairs.
“The North Atlantic and the Arctic are increasingly in the spotlight of security policy, and therefore the active participation of the Faroe Islands and Greenland is also of growing importance,” he said.
“I’m sure it’s going to benefit us all and I’m looking forward to getting started. I regard the new contact committee as a necessary modernization of the Commonwealth.”
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen says the increasing importance of the Arctic on the world stage makes the creation of the contact committee more important than ever.
“In recent years, foreign, security and defence policy has taken on a completely different dimension in the Arctic and the North Atlantic,” she said. “It’s important for the government that cooperation between Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland on these issues is strengthened.
“Today, with each of our signatures on the terms of reference of the new Foreign Affairs, Security and Defence Policy Contact Committee, we have created the framework for this important cooperation.”The chairmanship of the contact committee will alternate annually between Greenland the Faroe Islands and Denmark.
Meetings will be held in the country that currently holds the chairmanship.
Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca
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