Denmark Wants to Strengthen Foreign and Security Policy Cooperation With Greenland and the Faroe Islands

Lars Løkke Rasmussen, former Danish prime minister for two periods, is now in Greenland for the first time in the Minister of Foreign Affairs role. (Photo: Claus Peuckert/Thrane Media)

Denmark's new Minister of Foreign Affairs Lars Løkke Rasmussen was recently in Greenland to discuss the opportunities for deeper cooperation with his Greenlandic and Faroese colleagues, as well as to participate in the EU Arctic Forum and Indigenous People's Dialogue.

The Danish MFA Lars Løkke Rasmussen (Moderate) embarked on a three-day visit to Greenland on Tuesday.

Central to Løkke Rasmussen's agenda was a discussion with Grennland's Naalakkersuisoq (Minister) of Foreign Affairs, Vivian Motzfeldt (Siumut), about how the two parties' foreign and security policy cooperation can be strengthened.

A similar discussion was also had with the Faroese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Høgni Hoydal (Tjóðveldi).

"I had a good meeting with my Greenlandic colleague a few weeks ago in Copenhagen. We are now continuing the conversation in Nuuk and the close contact is not a coincidence. It is an important government priority to strengthen cooperation between the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Denmark, not least in regard to foreign and security policy. It requires a deeper understanding of each other's perspectives. That is why I am pleased to be visiting Nuuk so soon after taking office," said the Danish MFA in a press release.

Denmark's new majority government consisting of the Social Democrats, the Moderates, and Left, Denmark's Liberal Party, took office on the 15th of December.

Arctic cooperation with the EU

On Wednesday, Løkke Rasmussen participated in the EU Arctic Forum and Indigenous People's Dialogue that the EU Commission organized in Nuuk in collaboration with Naalakkersuisut, the Greenlandic government.

Central topics of the event were the future of international cooperation in the Arctic, the EU's engagement in the region, as well as sustainable and inclusive economic development in the region.

The Danish MFA has participated in a panel discussion about the first-mentioned topic. On the sideline, he also discussed further development of the cooperation with the EU in the Arctic region with Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries.

"The Arctic is on the top of the agenda in many capitals across the world. Not least in light of everything that is going on around us at the moment. It is good that the EU is engaged in the Arctic. Or others would volunteer. EU is a central actor in regard to research and investments in the Arctic area, among other things," said Løkke Rasmussen.

Contact committee and defense settlement

The aforementioned contact between the MFAs of Denmark, Greenland, and the Faroese Islands deepens the dialogue between the countries' prime ministers.

At a meeting in January, the prime ministers agreed on further cooperation within a foreign, security, and defense policy contact committee – a format that was established between the three countries in the summer of 2021.

In today's uncertain security policy situation in Europe, it is particularly important to jointly address and coordinate around issues in these policy fields, all three expressed.

Closer cooperation is also highly relevant in regard to the eminent defense settlement in the Danish Parliament, Folketinget, which will apply to the period of 2024-2029.

Will ensure participation

Greenland is central to Denmark's Arctic defense initiatives and Naalakkersuisuit has been given a written guarantee of its involvement in the preparations for the defense settlement, as previously reported by High North News (only in Norwegian). Dialogue about similar inclusion of the Faroese government has also been held.

On Tuesday, Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen (Social Democrats) gave a new confirmation of this approach:

"In regard to the upcoming defense settlement, we will ensure close involvement of the Faroese government and Greenland's Naalakkersuisut, as well as their North-Atlantic mandates [in Folketinget, ed.note]. That is how we will make the right decisions for the good of the entire Kingdom of Denmark," stated Frederiksen in the hall of the Folketing, reports KNR.

Furthermore, Altinget learns that Greenland's foreign policy strategy is right around the corner, something that may pave the way for the kingdom's new shared Arctic strategy.

Closer ties between Greenland and the EU

In a brief return to the EU Arctic Forum and the Indigenous People's Dialogue:

This was the first time that this event was held in Greenland – and the list of participating Arctic stakeholders was long. Several representatives of the union, as well as European governments, civil societies, industry, research, and indigenous institutions, were present.

"That the EU Arctic Forum is held in Greenland is an expression of the well-functioning cooperation between the EU and Greenland. The forum provides a good opportunity to meet responsible decision-makers in the EU and other representatives. This is important in the challenging time the world currently finds itself in, said Naalakkersuisoq Motzfeldt in a press release.

This fall, it was also announced that the union will strengthen its presence in Greenland by opening a representative office in Nuuk.

That the EU establishes such a presence in Greenland is about geopolitical positioning, but also that it wants to gain a better understanding of the Arctic island and develop relations with Greenlandic actors, said Andreas Raspotnik, Senior Researcher at the Fridtjof Nansen Insitute, to HNN.

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This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by Birgitte Annie Molid Martinussen.