Greenland. After many years of demands from Greenland, the Danish government in January pledged to contribute SEK 180 million for the clearing of abandoned US military bases from the Second World War. The bases have led to major environmental degradation in over 20 locations in Greenland, and according to experts, the Danish contribution to the cleaning is not enough.
Ahead of spring’s election to Greenland’s parliament, the County Council, a lively debate on independence from Denmark was held. Most parties advocated independence but disagreed on schedule and economic viability.
In 2018, Denmark contributed SEK 3.8 billion, over half of Greenland’s self-government budget. In addition, Denmark is paying for, among other things, sea rescue and coastal surveillance. Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said that Greenland cannot count on grants if the kingdom is independent. Løkke Rasmussen was criticized by Greenlandic politicians, who felt that the Danish government was extortionist in the process of independence.
Greenland’s head of government Kim Kielsen of the Social Democratic Siumut said in the election movement that independence requires jobs and education for young people to be secured and that the economy grows with increased income from fishing, tourism and mining. Siumut wanted to raise the level of education, which is the lowest in the Nordic countries. Only four out of ten Greenlanders have education after primary school. Siumut suggested that English should replace Danish as a second language in the school.
The government parties again became the largest in the election, but both declined, Siumut to 27.2% and the left party Inuit Ataqatigiit to 25.5%. They retained a majority in the County Council, but disagreement over the fisheries policy caused their coalition to dissolve.
Instead, Siumut formed a government with the small parties Naleraq, Atassut and Nunatta Qitornai. The majority was the smallest possible, 16 of the County Council’s 31 seats.
The fragile coalition soon got into an internal battle over the expansion of Greenland’s airports. A state-owned Chinese giant contractor had tendered for the billion project, but the United States warned Denmark that it could lead to Chinese military presence and then the Danish government wanted to go into funding the airports. The head of government Kielsen agreed to such a Danish-Greenlandic cooperation, but then the new party Naleraq revolted, which meant that Denmark invaded the Greenlandic self-government. Naleraq left the government in September, and Kielsen settled with the Social Liberal Democrats about supporting the minority coalition.
During the year, NASA sent a new satellite to measure changes in ice cover in, among others, Greenland. The technology is said to be able to detect changes in ice thickness down to half a centimeter.
Danish journalist and writer Anne Kirstine Hermann received the first scholarship from the murdered journalist Kim Wall’s memorial fund during the year. The scholarship will be used to investigate how the Greenlanders were affected by Denmark’s assimilation policy after the Second World War, when people were moved from villages to cities and children were taken from parents to be raised as Danes.