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Greenland: Independence on the horizon

Opinió | 14/10/2010

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After the latest reforms agreed on with Denmark and endorsed by a large majority in a referendum, Greenland has a recognized status as a nation on the international level and can become independent when it wants. It only has to fulfil one condition: the economic viability of the new state


Greenland is a former Danish colony, successively forming a province, then a region and now legally a nation integrated in the Kingdom of Denmark. This is contained in the agreement reached by the autonomous Greenland government and Copenhagen just over a year ago, an agreement that over 75% of the island’s population voted in favour of in a referendum. The new status, in addition to including the management of numerous powers, accepts the possibility of secession provided that this is desired by its population. However, in order to be able to go ahead with independence the autonomous government first has to overcome a very important pitfall: its absolute economic dependence on Denmark, which currently contributes 30% of Greenland’s GDP in direct subsidies.

Less than 60,000 people live on the Arctic island, with an eminently Inuit and mixed population (88%), in general in favour of a future independence, and a little over 10% of European descendents. The island does not present problems of social rupture. Although the only official language, Greenlandic coexists peacefully with Danish, the majority language in certain areas of the country.

The exploitation of energy resources, such as gas or oil, together with a geostrategic situation which could be crucial for trade with the progression of climate change, may help to make Greenland economically independent from Denmark. If this occurs, there will be a new state on the international stage.

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