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Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Publication of the Greenland Committee Report

Össur Skarphédinsson and Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson present the report at a press meeting at the Foreign Ministry - myndMFA Iceland

The Greenland Committee appointed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development Co-operation has delivered its extensive report with a detailed analysis og the current co-operation between Greenland and Iceland and recommendations on how to strengthen the co-operation. The Minister discussed the report with his Greenlandic counterpart, Steen Lynge on Wednesday.

Gudlaugur Thór Thórrdarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development Co-operation of Iceland, appointed the committee in April 2019. It is chaired by Össur Skarphédinsson, the former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Unnur Brá Konrádsdottir and Óttarr Gudlaugsson were also on the committee.

In the report, Greenland and Iceland in the New Arctic, the committee prioritizes ten recommendations for policy development. It is also recommended that at the outset the countries establish a framework agreement and that the Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development Co-operation introduces a Parliamentary resolution on a Greenland Policy.

The report contains all together 99 recommendations on possible actions for increased cooperation between government, local authorities, agencies and institutions, private sector, non-governmental organisations, sports, arts, and culture.

According to Minister Thórdarson, the report marks a turning point as by far the most comprehensive analysis of bilateral relations and co-operation between the two countries ever.

“I believe it is crucial to start as soon as possible a dialogue and collaboration with Greenlandic authorities on the implementation of the recommendations. The recommendations provide a good base to define common priorities and common topics for the two countries to work on,” says Minister Thórdarson. 

The recommendations of the committee are based on a detailed analysis of the countries bilateral relations and the status of the region in the new Arctic. Furthermore, the main economic sectors of Greenland where examined, such as fisheries, tourism and mining. 

Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson discussed the report in a video meeting with Steen Lynge, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Energy of Greenland on Wednesday. “It was both enjoyable and interesting to hear Minister Lynge’s very positive opinion of the report and recommendation. We agreed to work on a framework agreement between the countries where the objectives of co-operation in prioritised areas would be defined. Minister Lynge also proposed that we would jointly present the report at the next Arctic Circle Assembly this autumn,“ says Minister Thórdarson. “I have initiated work on a Parliamentary Resolution I intend to introduce during the current Parliamentary Session. The resolution will outline Iceland´s aim and objectives of increased co-operation between the countries.”

The report examines land and society, Government structure and politics, infrastructure development, including the significant development of air and marine transportation. There is a special focus on East Greenland and its particular challenges. The committee visited Greenland, where it held numerous meetings with local authorities and other stakeholders. The committee also met with a large number of Icelandic companies, institutions, and NGOs.  

The countries already have great many common interests, including in fisheries, airline services, air traffic control, tourism, and Arctic affairs. Increased co-operation on healthcare, education, and support services for the mining industry could become important areas of collaboration in the future.

Internationally the countries are already co-operating closely where emphasis is on Nordic and West Nordic co-operation and the close co-operation in the Arctic Council.

English translation of the entire report Greenland and Iceland in the New Arctic can be read here as well as its excerpt. 

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