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Hverken Færøernes eller Grønlands løsrivelse vil kræve ændring af grundloven

april 20, 2023 • Af

Skal grundloven skrives om, hvis Grønland eller Færøerne vil løsrive sig fra Danmark?

Der findes næppe noget andet spørgsmål, der i tilsvarende grad har forvirret debatten især om Grønlands eventuelle fremtid uden for rigsfællesskabet, og nu er dilemmaet aktuelt igen. Det skyldes især tre forhold. For det første offentliggøres formentlig snart den grønlandske forfatningskommissions endelige produkt: Et færdigt udkast til en forfatning for et uafhængigt Grønland.

Forfatningskommissionen afleverede sit udkast til Naalakkersuisut lige før 1. april, og det forlyder i Nuuk, at det bliver offentliggjort 28. april, når det formelt afleveres til debat i Inatsisartut, det grønlandske parlament.

Fri associering

For det andet vil en kreds af politikere, embedsmænd, akademikere og studerende i maj samles til seminar i Nuuk om free association, en ordning, hvor Grønland som uafhængig nation kan kobles til Danmark eller en anden stat i en ny, frivillig konstellation.

Fri associering har været diskuteret i Grønland i et par årtier; ordningen kendes fra en række Stillehavsøers sammenknytning med USA og New Zealand.

I Folketinget udtrykte Alternativet i 2018 støtte til tanken, og modellen sættes nu igen til debat i Grønland. Seminaret afholdes af den sikkerhedspolitiske tænketank Nasiffik på Grønlands Universitet og Dansk Institut for Internationale Studier.

Rigsfællesskabets fremtid

Michael Zilmer-Johns, her med nu afdøde Suka Frederiksen, Grønlands første selvstændighedsminister, i NATOs hovedkvarter, Bruxelles, 2018. Foto: Selvstyret

For det tredje har to centrale iagttagere i Danmark netop efterlyst en mere systematisk dansk debat om rigsfællesskabets fremtid.

Mikaela Engell, der som rigsombudsmand var statsministerens forlængede arm i Nuuk i 11 år frem til 2022, og Michael Zilmer-Johns, der 1. februar afsluttede 44 års tjeneste i Udenrigstjenesten, beskrev i Weekendavisen sidst i marts rigsfællesskabet som henholdsvis dysfunktionelt, uværdigt, udlevet, utilfredsstillende og plaget af mistillid.

“Jeg synes, vi i Danmark skal tænke over, hvordan vi kunne lave en anden form for fællesskab, hvor vi starter som tre uafhængige nationer, der binder sig sammen igen, men på frivillig basis og som et tilvalg, og ikke kun fordi det er vores historiske arv. Vi har et problem, fordi rigsfællesskabet, som vi kender det, ikke kan rumme grønlændernes og færingernes helt legitime ønsker om selvstændighed og en mere selvstændig international rolle,” siger Zilmer-Johns blandt andet.

Han foreslår en dansk kommission, der som pendant til den grønlandske forfatningskommission og den tilsvarende proces på Færøerne skal producere danske forslag til, hvordan rigsfællesskabet kan finde en mere duelig afløser.

“Der er udbredt utilfredshed med konstruktionen, og så er det da forkert, at vi ikke har vores egen debat i Danmark om, hvordan et alternativ kunne se ud. Der er også elementer, der er problematiske for Danmark. Man kan jo eksempelvis diskutere, om det er rimeligt, at vælgerne i Grønland og på Færøerne skal være med til at bestemme, om Store Bededag skal afskaffes. Jeg synes, at vi skylder færingerne, grønlænderne og os selv at tænke med i stedet for at blive ved med at lappe på et rigsfællesskab, der ikke tilfredsstiller nogen af parterne,” siger han.

Grundlovsændring?

Spørgsmålet om grundloven er helt afgørende for diskussionerne om Færøernes og Grønlands eventuelle udtræden af kongeriget.

Selv de mest positivt indstillede danske politikere vil givetvis klø sig grundigt i håret en ekstra gang, hvis løsrivelse kræver en grundlovsændring.

Sådan en kræver først et flertal i Folketinget, dernæst et folketingsvalg og endnu en vedtagelse i et nyt Folketing. Herefter skal ændringen til folkeafstemning, hvor et flertal, som udgør mindst 40 procent af de stemmeberettigede, møder op og stemmer ja.

Rigtigt meget kan gå galt i den proces — uanset, hvad ændringen i øvrigt handler om. Det er intet under, at grundloven kun er ændret fire gange siden tilblivelsen i 1849.

Det korte svar er nej

Jeg spurgte statsretseksperten Jørgen Albæk Jensen, professor emeritus i offentlig ret ved Juridisk Institut ved Aarhus Universitet, om han mener, at det vil kræve en ændring af grundloven, hvis Grønland forandrer status fra at være en del af kongeriget og i stedet genopstår som suveræn, selvstændig stat.

“Det korte svar er nej, det gør det ikke,” siger han.

Jørgen Albæk Jensen har sammen med sammen med sin kollega ved Aarhus Universitet, professor i statsforfatningsret Michael Hansen Jensen og den nuværende højesteretspræsident Jens Peter Christensen, der i en årrække var professor i offentlig ret ved Aarhus Universitet, skrevet lærebogen Dansk Statsret, som hører til det faste pensum på universiteterne. I 2015 udgav samme trio en ny 518-sider lang kommenteret udgave af grundloven på DJØF’s forlag.

“Den centrale bestemmelse i denne sammenhæng er grundlovens paragraf 19 stk 1,” siger Jørgen Albæk Jensen.

“Den siger, at hvis man vil indskrænke rigets område, som vi taler om i det her tilfælde, så kan det gøres ved en regeringsbeslutning, der skal godkendes af Folketinget. Det er for så vidt de formelle krav, der er. En del andre love vil formentlig trænge til at blive lavet om som følge af processen, men grundloven kræver ikke andre procedurer i den sammenhæng,” siger han.

“Vi har også grundlovens paragraf 1, der siger, at grundloven gælder hele Danmarks Rige, men Danmarks Rige er jo netop ikke defineret i grundloven. Hvis man vil afgive noget af Danmarks Rige, så kan man gøre det, og så gælder grundloven bare ikke længere der,” siger han.

Samme konklusion nåede Jens Peter Christensen, Højesterets nuværende præsident, kort før årtusindskiftet i “Notat af 22. juni 1999 om visse statsretlige aspekter af de færøske planer om oprettelse af en suveræn stat”.

De færøske politikere havde bedt om juridisk input forud for forhandlinger om løsrivelse med Poul Nyrup Rasmussens regering, og de blev næppe kede af svaret.

De to folketingsmedlemmer

De to nuværende grønlandske MF’ere: Aaja Chemnitz (AI, th.) og Aki-Mathilda Høegh-Dam (S). Foto: Paninnguaq Steenholdt, KNR

Og hvad så med de to grønlandske og de to færøske medlemmer af Folketinget? De er nævnt i grundlovens § 28: “Folketinget udgør een forsamling bestående af højst 179 medlemmer, hvoraf 2 medlemmer vælges på Færøerne og 2 i Grønland,” lyder det.

Man kunne tro, at en grundlovsændring så alligevel vil være nødvendig, men sådan ser juristerne det ikke:

“Der er almindelig enighed blandt de skriftkloge, som jeg i en eller anden grad hører til, om at det skal forstås på den måde, at så længe Grønland er en del af Danmarks Rige, skal to folketingsmedlemmer vælges i Grønland, men så snart Grønland ikke er en del af riget længere, så bliver bestemmelsen nytteløs eller falder væk, om du vil,” siger Jørgen Albæk Jensen.

“Problemet har været drøftet blandt statsretskyndige, og jeg tror ikke, at der er nogen, der mener andet end, at hvis Grønland ikke er med længere, så har bestemmelsen mistet sin relevans. Så har Folketinget bare ikke to medlemmer valgt i Grønland, og så skal valgloven i hvert fald nok laves om. Man skal tage stilling til, om der stadig skal være 179 medlemmer af Folketinget, og om man vil fordele de to ekstra pladser på resten af kredsene i Danmark eller nøjes med 177, men det er jo bare en ændring af valgloven. Der er ikke noget til hinder for det i grundloven. Den er så viseligt indrettet, at der ikke står, at der skal være 179 medlemmer af Folketinget. Der står bare, at der højest kan være 179 medlemmer,” siger han.

Professor Michael Hansen Jensen er ganske enig: “Egentlig selvstændighed for Grønland kræver ikke en grundlovsændring, men alene en regeringsbeslutning som skal godkendes af Folketinget,” skriver han i en mail.

Han uddyber over telefonen: “I det hele taget er grundloven ud fra en retlig betragtning ganske smidigt og tilpasningsdygtigt til de politiske ønsker, der måtte være for selvstyre eller egentlig uafhængighed,” siger han.

De nordatlantiske mandater

Bestemmelsen om de nordatlantiske medlemmer af Folketinget kan fint blive stående i grundloven, uanset om Grønland eller Færøerne skulle løsrive sig.

På samme vis med grundlovens § 71, der siger, at man på grund af de store afstande, vind og vejrforhold ikke nødvendigvis skal stilles for en dommer inden for 24 timer, hvis man anholdes i Grønland.

Også den bestemmelse kan ifølge Michael Hansen Jensen fint blive stående, selvom Grønland skulle trække sig ud af riget.

“Grundloven er jo et historisk produkt givet ud fra de forudsætninger, der var på et tidspunkt. Forudsætningerne kan ændre sig, så nogle bestemmelser ikke længere er relevante,” siger han.

Han nævner som eksempel grundlovens bestemmelse om hæftestraf. Grundloven er uændret, selvom retsvæsenet ikke længere benytter hæftestraf.

Professorerne er i øvrigt enige om, at fortolkningen af grundloven er den samme uanset, om det gælder Færøernes eller Grønlands løsrivelse:

“Der er fuldstændig parallelitet. De to rigsdele er i den forbindelse i helt samme situation,” siger Michael Hansen Jensen.

Uden forhandling

Grundloven dukker gerne op i diskussioner om Grønlands fremtid, fordi ledelsen i Nuuk forventes at indlede forhandlinger med Danmark, hvis løsrivelse en dag skulle blive aktuelt. Folketinget og regeringen, der er bundet af grundloven, vil altså hurtigt blive inddraget.

Lov om Grønlands Selvstyre fra 2009 indeholder en nøje beskrivelse af den forventede proces.

Selvstyreloven siger, at “beslutning om Grønlands selvstændighed træffes af det grønlandske folk”. Dernæst skal den grønlandske ledelse forhandle med den danske regering, og den aftale, der indgås, skal godkendes ved folkeafstemning i Grønland og endelig af Folketinget.

For at fuldende billedet kan man så spørge, om Grønland har mulighed for at springe forhandlingerne med Danmark over eller fortsætte selvstændighedsprocessen, hvis forhandlingerne med Danmark fejler? I så fald skulle Grønland som en ensidig handling erklære Grønland selvstændigt.

Det er værd at understrege, at vi her er ude i den rent teoretiske ende af skalaen, men jeg tager det med for fuldstændighedens skyld.

Hypotetiske diskussioner

Hvis en ensidig, uforhandlet løsrivelse skal have folkeretlig gyldighed, kræver det ifølge juraprofessor Rachael Lorna Johnstone ved Grønlands Universitet, at mindst ét af to kriterier er opfyldt.

Enten skal Grønland dokumentere, at Danmark konstant udsætter grønlænderne for meget voldsomme menneskerettighedskrænkelser.

To dommere fra Den Internationale Domstol i Haag har tidligere forklaret, at det kun er i de mest ekstreme tilfælde, at løsrivelse ad denne vej kan gennemføres. Dengang gjaldt det en kompleks diskussion om, hvorvidt serbernes overgreb var nok til at begrunde Kosovos frigørelse. Reelt er den vej altså lukket for Grønland.

Tilbage er ifølge Rachael Lorna Johnstone den mulighed, at der føres bevis for, at Grønland stadig i folkeretlig forstand er en koloni, uanset at Grønland ved seneste grundlovsændring i 1953 formelt blev indlemmet som en fuldgyldig del af Danmark.

Hvis det kan godtgøres, at Grønland stadig er en koloni (en tese som blandt andet den islandske jurist ph.d. Guðmundur Alfreðsson har arbejdet med), vil Grønland have samme ret til selvstændighed som andre kolonier — og der skal så en internationalt anerkendt folkeafstemning i Grønland til.

Rachael Lorna Johnstone vil ikke fuldstændigt udelukke denne mulighed fra den teoretiske diskussion, men hun beder om at få understreget så kraftigt som muligt, at det i hendes øjne er aldeles usandsynligt, at Grønland skulle vælge at undlade forhandling med Danmark.

“Det er en rent hypotetisk diskussion. Jeg forventer en forhandlet løsning,” fastslår hun per mail fra Nuuk.

Teksten her blev først offentliggjort på Altinget/Arktis 20. april 2023


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Greenland women seek a reckoning for a 1960s Danish campaign to reduce births in Greenland

marts 31, 2023 • Af

From 1966 to 1970, during the so-called ”coil campaign” in Greenland that was set in motion by the Danish health authorities, about half the fertile women of Greenland — including girls as young as 13 — had an intrauterine contraceptive device, an IUD, inserted into their uterus.

Documents recently unearthed and testimony by women subjected to the campaign indicate that a significant part of the women were not aware of what happened or had not consented to the intervention. In some cases, where the parents of very young women should have been involved, they were not. There are indications that a number of those affected suffered severe pains, subsequent complications and infertility.

After decades of silence, still more women in Greenland are now publicly sharing their experiences and the coil campaign is being established as perhaps the most serious of all known Danish offenses in Greenland, a Danish colony until 1953 and now an integral part of the Danish Kingdom.

Naja Lyberth when she was 14. Today she is at the center of a campaign to assist those affected by the coil campaign. (Courtesy of Naja Lyberth)

The women involved had a coil, in many cases of the brand Lippes Loop, inserted by medical doctors, almost all of whom were Danish. At a request from the Danish Chief Medical Officer in Greenland, the Danish parliament in 1973 amended relevant legislation so that doctors in Greenland were no longer required to involve the parents of girls between 15 and 18 years of age before they advised them about birth control. It now appears that in several cases such advice was immediately followed by the insertions of a coil.

In the five years from 1966 to 1970, some 4,500 women had an IUD inserted, many in connection with an abortion or when giving birth. The campaign continued until 1974, but there are no records to tell how many IUDs were administered in the last years of the campaign.

The effect was considerable. Data from Statistics Greenland show that the number of births in Greenland dropped by some 50 percent in the early 1970’s only to rise slowly from then on.

In Greenland, some now use the term “genocide” to describe this campaign.

50 years later

The campaign resurfaced into public scrutiny in May 2022 when the Danish Broadcasting Corporation aired four podcasts detailing much of the relevant proceedings. Since then, additional information has been steadily forthcoming.

Today we know for instance that the zigzag-shaped Lippes Loop-coil must have sometimes been bigger than the not yet fully developed uterus of the youngest of the women affected. Reportedly, only the size D of the Lippes Loop coil was available in Greenland at the time, indicating that some women and in particular the youngest very likely suffered severe pain and possibly additional complications.

At least one early death has been connected to the campaign and fragments of other difficult lives are appearing through the now shared stories of abdominal pains, infertility, operations and complicated sexuality. As late as 2022, a gynecologist at Queen Ingrid’s Hospital in Nuuk, Greenland’s capital, extracted a Lippes Loop coil from the uterus of a patient.

The media in Greenland has closely covered new details recently emerging about the campaign and in February, Francisco Cali Tzay, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, added the coil campaign to his report on possible violations of human rights in Greenland to the UN’s Human Rights Council.

Last year, Denmark’s then Minister of Health, Magnus Heunicke, and Greenlands Naalakkersuisoq or Minister for Children, Youth, Families and Health, Mimi Karlsen, promised a full investigation of the coil campaign. The investigation, however, has not yet begun.

The Lippes Loop IUDl, was intended for long term use and available in many countries in the 1960’s (Journal of Postgraduate Gynecology and Obstetrics)

In Greenland, women adversely affected by the campaign are offered free medical or psychological help. In January, anybody affected by the campaign was asked to forward relevant material to the office of Greenland’s Chief Medical Officer in Nuuk. Data is also collected for the years after 1992, when the Greenlandic authorities took over responsibility for Greenland’s health sector. According to media reports in Greenland, some 30 women have so far provided information of their own experiences with the coil campaign. Nine women have reported that they were subjected to an IUD after 1992, even if they had not given their consent. The responsible doctors in Greenland may now face legal prosecution.

Women of the Year

A group of some 130 women in Greenland who are communicating primarily via Facebook are preparing court cases and demands for financial compensation from Denmark. Meanwhile, they are confronting the still-painful effects of the campaign.

In 2017, after almost five decades of silence, the groups’ moderator, psychologist and trauma specialist Naja Lyberth, became the first to talk publicly of her painful encounter with the campaign.

Last year, she featured as the main character in “Greenland’s Lost Generation,” a television documentary by the BBC, and on the BBC’s list of the World’s 100 most inspiring women. In February, she won the title of Arnatsialak or Woman of the Year in Greenland.

“I have found out that I was not 14 years old, but actually only 13, when I had my coil,” she explains via Zoom from her home in Nuuk.

She skipped a grade at the school in Maniitsoq, her hometown, and was therefore summoned at a particularly young age. She was not sexually active, she was not yet 15, and her parents were not asked to consent. Describing the pain, she evokes images of knives, but afterwards she did not talk about the intervention with anyone.

In 1992, she finished her education as a psychologist in Denmark and later received additional training as a trauma specialist. Today, she has served for a number of years on a team of specialists organized by Greenland authorities which travels across the country to help adults suffering from trauma as a result of childhood sex abuse.

Some years ago, Naja Lyberth realized that she was suffering from similarly trauma herself:

“When I entered my menopause, I had strong menstrual pains and many of my symptoms reminded me of the pains I experienced when I had my coil. Once again, I felt that something was too big for my body, just like the gynecological tools and the coil back then. My body, my uterus, all my abdomen reacted,” she says.

During her training as a trauma specialist she managed to treat her own trauma and she is now eager to assist others:

“It can lead to very serious retraumatization if you are unprepared and suddenly reintroduced to your old trauma. You may feel unprotected and vulnerable, so it is important that you are convinced that you are protected by your surroundings and that you feel you are able to protect yourself. This is particularly important,  because we now know that we were subjected to a large and politically orchestrated campaign,” she says.

“I knew that many would ask why they have been unable to get pregnant. We all know someone, our cousins or other women, who have been unable to have children. I assumed that some of them would be retraumatized,” she says.

 
Today, Naja Lyberth, who is trained as a trauma specialist, is helping Greenlandic women confront their experiences with the so-called “coil campaign.” (Courtesy of Naja Lyberth)

She compares her own reactions to those she finds with victims of sexual abuse.

“You are commanded by your fear. You feel shameful and embarrassed. You say nothing because you are afraid you will be judged or shamed,” she says. She places full responsibility for the coil campaign on Denmark:

“The doctor was only the extended arm of the state of Denmark,” she says.

“I was not allowed to rule over my own body or my uterus. I feel as if my body was colonized. Today, I have taken back my authority through my protests. I have decolonized my body, but I have no doubt that our bodies were colonized back then. It is only now that my body and my psyche no longer belong to the (Danish, ed.) government.”

She never told her parents what happened back then, but last year she visited their graves in Maniitsoq.

“I wanted to tell them everything. Your uterus is the most private of all and all the way in there I was subjected to an unwanted intervention. They violated not only our genitals and our hymens. They forced their way into our innermost organs. That was far too violent to handle for a young woman, so everything got suppressed until my body remembered it again,” she says.

Meanwhile, she found a possible explanation why so many allowed themselves to be subjected to the coil campaign without protest:

“In the older times we had to live in tight communities and let our leaders command the greater family in order that we could act together and make sure that all survived the harsh conditions. Already before we are able to speak, it is implanted in our superegos that we should not oppose authority,” she says. Which may explain, she finds, some of the traumas now surfacing:

“We suppressed our natural urge to fight or flee, which is why trauma occurs. Wild animals do not get traumatized because they don’t suppress their reflexes. They fight or flee when they have to. Afterwards they rest behind a bush and soon they are ready to move on. We did not have that option,” she says.

Single mothers

The promised probe into the campaign will be designed to unearth among others what motivated the Danish authorities to launch the campaign. In the 1960s Greenland’s population had the highest growth rate of any population in the world —but it is not clear why the Danish authorities found this so alarming that a campaign was deemed necessary.

In 1963, Mogens Boserup, a Danish economist deeply involved in Denmark’s efforts to modernize Greenland, explained in a book about Greenland’s economy that he saw no reason for “significant concerns regarding the growth of the Greenlandic population, even if it is close to a world record.”

On the contrary, Boserup described the number of children in Greenland at the time as economically beneficial since it would ensure sufficient workers to steer Greenland into a more prosperous future. His conclusion: “No regard to the growth of the population indicates that economic policy should involve in the relevant future propaganda in favor of birth control.”

Other reasoning behind the coil campaign may have been founded on Danish concerns about sexuality and family structures in Greenland. When the number of births in Greenland peaked in the 1960’s, more than one in four children were born by single mothers, a phenomenon that could have disturbed key actors in Denmark at the time.

Asii Chemnitz Narup, the former mayor of Nuuk and member of Inatsisartut, Greenland’s parliament

Lyberth accuses the designers of the campaign of a lack of cultural understanding: “Suddenly we had to learn Danish and live in nuclear families instead of our extended families,” she says.

“To have children, grand-children and great-grand-children was our security in old age. Our extended families were self-sufficient and children were our pension fund,” she says.

Genocide

Last year, as the coil campaign became publicly known, Aki-Matilda Høegh-Dam, one of the two Greenlandic members of the Danish parliament, was among the first to use the term ”genocide” as she lashed out against campaign. Today she no longer stands alone:

“At first I wondered if it was really necessary to talk so loudly to be heard, but I have come to a new understanding, so thank you to Aki-Matilda,” says Asii Chemnitz Narup, former mayor of Nuuk and presently a member of Inatsisartut, Greenland’s parliament, for Inuit Ataqatigiit, the main party in Greenland’s governing coalition.

“Thousands of Greenlandic lives were never conceived. It was a violation of the individual woman’s life and of the life of her partner, but it was also a violation of our society that has been deprived of a great number of citizens. Numerous talents and individuals, dreams and laughter, strength and a wealth of ideas has been lost to us as a people and as a country. It is a crime against Greenland and our people. I may sound as if I am exaggerating, but that is how I feel,” she told ArcticToday.

The term “genocide,” according to the UN convention to prevent it, applies if proof is provided that one or more clearly identifiable and still living individuals has had the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group,” and took actions inlcuding  “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.”

The Danish Institute for Human Rights and the Human Rights Council of Greenland have jointly appealed to the Danish government to secure compensation and recognition of the abuse suffered by the women involved.

“We are talking of systematic and serious violations of some very basic human rights,” says the director of the Danish Institute for Human Rights, Louise Holck. Neither of the two human rights bodies, however, have so far used the word genocide.

“Based on what we know from other cases it is very hard to prove that an actual genocide has been committed, partly because intent by one or more individuals  — civil servants, politicians, doctors or others — to destroy the population partly or entirely has to be proven,” says Holck.

A formal indictment pertaining to genocide would have to be opened by the Danish public prosecutor against individuals still alive, not against the Danish state. Proof would have to be at hand that the relevant individuals wanted to curb the number of births in Greenland not for economic or moral reasons, but based on ethnic or nationalist hatred.

The investigation of the coil campaign promised by the governments in Nuuk and Copenhagen is expected to take at least two years. According to a formal announcement, it will involve hearing of witnesses. The findings will feed into a larger probe of all controversial Danish deeds in Greenland since World War II which was agreed between Greenland’s Premier Muté B. Egede and the Prime Minister of Denmark Mette Frederiksen in June 2022.

First published on ArcticToday. com  30th March 2023 / this is an edited version


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Ny storfilm løfter det grønlandske krav om afkolonisering til nye højder

marts 23, 2023 • Af
Aaju Peter med cigaret og instruktøren bag Twice Colonized, Lin Alluna (DK) 

 

Lad os antage, at et flertal af vælgerne i Danmark fortsat deler den opfattelse, at Danmark i Grønland i det store hele har handlet “i den bedste mening” og “til gavn for Grønland”. Fortællingen modsiges ihærdigt af mange grønlændere, forskning, litteratur og medier, men den har mere end 100 år bag sig og stadig godt fat. Denne danske konsensus om historiens rette fortolkning har løbende understøttet danske regeringers håndtering af relationen til Grønland, og et flertal på Christiansborg har som oftest bakket op, også når samarbejdet ikke har udviklet sig til Grønlands tilfredshed.

Men måske er forandring på vej – som i Canada, Sverige, Norge og Finland, hvor forholdet til de oprindelige folkeslag i Arktis også er til fornyet bearbejdning.

Onsdag i sidste uge fik den danske fortælling om relationen til Grønland eksempelvis nyt unikt modspil af grønlandske Aaju Peter, 62, og den ny sejrrige dokumentarfilm Twice Colonized. Her leveres et omgående forståeligt indblik i den grønlandske vrede og det intense ønske om forandring.

Filmen blev modtaget med stående ovationer i en udsolgt DR-koncertsal – udvalgt, som den var, blandt hundredvis af konkurrerende værker som åbningsfilm ved CPH:DOX, en af Europas største festivaler for dokumentarfilm.

Filmens nordamerikanske premiere fandt sted på Sundance Film Festival i januar, en af de mest prestigiøse i USA. Filmen vises nu i en stribe biografer; senere på DR.

Afkolonisering

Et interessant perspektiv åbner sig: Hvad sker der, hvis den danske offentlighed for alvor får dybere forståelse for de psykiske ar, vreden og traumerne, som i årtier har understøttet selvstændighedstrangen og senest “decolonize”-bevægelsen i Grønland?

Ønsket om et opgør med fortiden, forsoning og mental afkolonisering af både danskere og grønlændere har endnu ikke noget stort følge i Danmark, og i det politiske kan det på samme måde ind imellem være vanskeligt at spore bredere forståelse, når den grønlandske utilfredshed med rigsfællesskabet får luft i den daglige mellemrigspolitik.

Et dugfrisk eksempel: Udenrigsministeriet har for nylig igen udpeget en dansk diplomat som ny arktisk ambassadør for kongeriget. Også i de kommende år vil det altså være en dansker, ikke en grønlænder, der på rigets vegne leder forhandlingerne med USA, Canada, Norge og alle de andre arktiske stater om udviklingen i Arktis.

Sådan har det været siden den første arktiske ambassadør blev udnævnt i 2012 – til udtalt utilfredshed i Nuuk, og nu gentager mønstret sig. Den nye udnævnelse har anfægtet blandt andet MF’er Aki-Matilda Høegh-Dam (S) og Kuno Fencker, medlem af Inatsisartut, det grønlandske parlament (S).

Som man kunne læse her på Altinget forleden, mener de to politikere, at posten som arktisk ambassadør burde varetages af en grønlænder.

At have kendskab til regionen, sproget og kulturerne i Arktis må være en vigtig kvalificerende kompetence, mener de, men fra Christiansborg afvises de af en stribe partier for at se stort på centraladministrationens hævdvundne fokus på merit og kompetence; SF og Dansk Folkeparti mener, at de to har et uacceptabelt racehensyn for øje.

En sådan afvisning var med stor sandsynlighed ikke blevet accepteret i DR’s koncertsal den aften, publikum rejste sig for at klappe af Aaju Peter og Twice Colonized. I denne lomme af Danmark herskede en ganske anden grad af forståelse for nødvendigheden af afkolonisering, genoprejsning, øget repræsentation og magt til og i Grønland.

Filmen forbinder med kompetente greb seerens eget følelsesregister direkte med Aaju Peters smerte og vrede. Her kræves ingen akademiske forkundskaber eller politisk erfaring for at forstå, at koloniseringen af Grønland og dens nutidige senfølger har skadet et i øvrigt begavet, musisk, empatisk og engageret menneske.

Som Weekendavisens Tine Eiby skrev efter at have set filmen og talt med Aaju Peter: “Jeg forstår måske bedre end nogensinde, hvor meget skade Danmark og andre vestlige lande har påført inuit, hvad enten vi betragter os som koloniherrer i klassisk forstand eller ej.”

Vold og sult

Twice Colonized tegner et dragende portræt af Aaju Peter og hendes indsats for inuitter og andre oprindelige folk, deres rettigheder og levevilkår i Grønland, Nunavut og alle andre steder. Aaju Peters hører derfor direkte sammen med de kommende års diskussioner mellem Danmark og Grønland.

Den helt store udredning af Danmarks gerninger i Grønland siden Anden Verdenskrig er for længst aftalt mellem Mette Frederiksen og formanden for Naalakkersuisut, Mute B. Egede, men erfaringer ikke mindst fra Canada viser, at udredninger ikke gør det alene.

Går det som i Canada, hvor en omfattende forsoningsproces har været i gang i 15 år, vil vi alle blive bedt om at deltage, gå i tænkeboks om vores egen fortid og historieforståelse.

Her kan man udmærket begynde med Twice Colonize, hvor der er bud både til fortid og fremtid: Aaju Peter blev født i Grønland til en barndom med vold, alkohol og sult; affaldet på dumpen var en del af kosten. Hun var hurtig i skolen og blev som mange andre som 11-årig rykket til Danmark for at lære dansk.

Hun flyttede fra den ene plejefamilie til den næste, til hun var 18. Da hun returnerede til Grønland, havde hun mistet sit sprog og fik aldrig for alvor genoprettet forholdet til sin familie.

Hun flyttede til Nunavut i Canada med en kæreste derfra, tog en jurauddannelse, fik fem børn, blev skilt. Hun dannede nyt par med en hvid, canadisk kæreste, alkoholen trængte sig på; der var kærlighed, men også vold og tvang.

Da de fem års optagelser til Twice Colonized tager fart, er hun rykket fra kæresten, hun er ædru, men får så af politiet at vide, at hendes alt for unge søn har begået selvmord. Hun knækker igen, men rejser sig af asken; ikke mindst for børnebørnenes skyld.

Aaju Peter – foto fra filmen Twice Colonized

Forsoning

Aaju Peter er aktivist, et kraftvarmeværk af vrede og handlekraft med et tilsyneladende ukueligt håb og uudslukkelig trang til at få så mange som muligt af alle slags engageret i afkoloniseringen i Grønland og Canada.

Hun har arbejdet for inuitternes ret til at jage sæler i årtier og modtog i 2012 the Order of Canada. I Nunavut underviser hun de lokale i Inuktitut; mange taler ikke sproget længere eller fik det ikke lært fra barnsben. Hun arbejder for oprindelige folks rettigheder i Grønland, Nunavut, alle steder.

“Min kamp startede de jeg var 18. Jeg havde fået nok af kun at være dansk, kun tale dansk, og kun gøre alt, hvad danskerne ville have, at jeg gjorde. Jeg var så pissed off, at jeg skiftede navn. jeg ville ikke have noget som helst at gøre med dansk eller Danmark mere,” fortalte hun mig under en times samtale før filmpremieren – på engelsk.

Hun giver gerne interview; hun er ved at være et ikon, på forsiden af avisen Sermitsiaq i Grønland i sidste uge. Hun var blandt de første til at genopfinde de arktiske tatoveringer, der nu kendes også fra deltagere i den såkaldte “decolonize”-bevægelse i Grønland, hvor globale identitetspolitiske strømninger også afspejles.

“Hvis du vil forstå, hvad kolonisering og det at blive koloniseret betyder, er det, når din selvstændighed bliver taget fra dig af en fremmed magt, et fremmed sprog, og når fremmede kulturer og normer tvinges ned over dig,” siger hun.

Hun bruger sine erfaringer til at skabe dialog og forandringer, ikke yderligere vrede og raseri. Hun anser koloniseringen for at være årsag til store dele af de sociale afgrunde i Grønland og Nunavut; fattigdom, nye såvel som gamle traumer, inklusive de mange selvmord.

Hun afsøger gerne fortiden, hun maler arven i de mørkeste farver, men hun anbefaler parterapi til Danmark og Grønland. Dialog, ikke konfrontation:

“I Canada er nøgleordet forsoning. Vi er nødt til at gøre det på en venlig og åben facon. Der har været megen smerte, og vi gør os mange antagelser, men vi er nødt til at lytte til hinanden, ikke gøre det personligt: ‘Det var din fejl’, ‘du gjorde dit og du gjorde dat’. Nej, det duer ikke. Vi har brug for venlighed, ydmyghed og tålmodighed. Venlighed og forståelse er mit mål,” siger hun.

“Twice Colonized” (92 min.) En film af Lin Alluna (DK), skrevet og levet, som PR-materialet siger, af Aaju Peter. Produceret af filmselskaber i Grønland og Nunavut: ÁNORÂK FILM, RED MARROW MEDIA, EYESTEELFILM and REEL PICTURES.

Denne text blev først publiceret på Altinget/Arktis 23. marts 2023


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A new documentary is a cry for decolonization across the Arctic

marts 22, 2023 • Af

A still image from the new documentary film “Twice Colonized.” (David Bauer)

If you have been wondering what it feels to be colonized, to find that your land, your people, your body and mind have all been subjected to the will and whims of a foreign colonizer, Aaju Peter and the new documentary, Twice Colonized, in which she is portrayed, will most likely help.

Peter, who is Inuit, is trained as lawyer, and works as a human rights activist. She’s a powerhouse of anger, willpower and a the desire to raise others into alacrity and action. She has campaigned for decades for the rights of Indigenous peoples of the Arctic to hunt seals and received, in 2012, the Order of Canada. Today she is advocating the establishment of a formal, consultative Indigenous Forum within the European Union. In Iqaluit, Nunavut, where she lives, she teaches Inuktitut, the local Inuit language, to those who have lost it or never had it. She struggles for the cultural rights, land rights and all other rights of indigenous peoples whether in Greenland, where she was born, in Nunavut or elsewhere.

The loss

During the five years it took to shoot “Twice Colonized” Aaju Peter lost her young son to what appears to be suicide; a mindnumbing tragedy, a life ended far too early by a fall from the 10th floor.

You may, as I did, misunderstand the film as saying that it was this unbearable loss that propelled Peter to pursue, as she does, every available opportunity to take back her powers, her body and soul and to urge all of us — the colonizers as well as the colonized — to decolonize ourselves so that our children and grandchildren may hopefully live free from colonialisms restraints.

It is a tempting interpretation, but also, as I learn when we meet, a far too easy one.

“My fight started when I was 18. I had had enough of only being Danish, of only speaking Danish, of only doing everything the Danes wanted. I was so pissed off, I changed my name. I didn’t want anything to do with Danish or Denmark or anything,” Peter tells me.

She is in Copenhagen for the opening of Copenhagen Dox, one of Europe’s largest festivals for documentaries, where Twice Colonized featured as the lead show and received standing ovations. The film premiered in North America in January at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah and will continue to festivals in Canada and elsewhere.

The film “Twice Colonized” documents the decolonizing work of Aaju Peter, an Inuit lawyer from Greenland who lives in Nunavut. (Angela Gzowski)

It is all about colonialism and how it affects the individual:

“Some white people say to me, ’hey, but you got something good out of it. You have a good education and all these nice experiences.’ And okay, I say, that’s probably fine from where you’re standing, but I’m telling my story and how it affected me,” Peter tells me.

“I was born into a Danish colony, even though Denmark didn’t want to call it a colony. And it’s not only the land that is colonized. It’s the person, the people and their minds.”

At the age of 11 she did well in school and was put on a plane from Greenland to Denmark, as many other young Greenlandic children at the time. The idea, very much a colonial concept, was that the children would learn Danish, be cultivated, educated and returned to Greenland to lead their nation into a brighter future. To Peter, who stayed in Denmark until she was 18, the passage turned into debilitating loss:

“I had to learn a new way of thinking, a new way of expressing anything. A different culture, different people, different heritage. That’s how I ended up speaking Danish and when I went back to Greenland, I couldn’t speak my own language. My mind and my thinking was so colonized,” she says.

She found herself unable to reconnect meaningfully with her family and community. Instead, she left. She met an Inuit from Nunavut and followed him to Iqaluit, which seemed as far away from Denmark as she could get.

“I moved to the Canadian Arctic which was colonized by the Canadian state, so now I was twice colonized. That’s where the title came from,” she says.

From the screen we learn that Peter later partnered with Marcus, a white Canadian and then broke up with him again. The film evokes much love and longing, but also obnoxious abuse and pain. The viewer never meets Marcus in the flesh, only as a manipulative and accusing voice on Peter’s mobile phone.

“I had to learn English and I took my law degree in English. That became my third identity, and then I had to deal with the English-speaking state and live with southern white people, which became a fourth form of identity. So I am a living, breathing quadrilingual and quadricultural person. If you are looking for the meaning of colonization and being colonized it is when all your autonomy is taken from you by a foreign state, a foreign language, and when foreign cultures and customs are imposed on you,” she says.

The demons

By the film’s promotion material we are told that Peter is “on a personal journey to confront the demons of her past,” but she is surely also very much concerned with the present. On screen she dances riotously to rock music, she cries and laughs, obviously determined to live, feel, speak, journey and act as she must. At one point in the film, she seems to collar any demons she might still be harboring and expertly bends them to her own devices: “Your experience is your power,” she exclaims.

Peter wants to turn also the more painful elements of her past into dialogue and change, not into additional anger or rage. She points at colonialism as the source of so many current ills, including the many suicides in Nunavut and in Greenland, but she urges dialogue, not conflict or confrontation. She wants to assist others who feel trapped, as she has felt trapped, by colonialism past and present. She strives to include, not exclude, as many as possible in the decolonization process:

“In Canada the buzzword is reconciliation. We have to do it in a kind and open way. Be kind to each other. There was a lot of hurt and there are so many assumptions. And we don’t want that. We have to listen to each other, not make it personal: ‘It was your fault’ or ‘you did this and you did that’. No, that’s out, that is not permissible. We need kindness, humility and patience. Kindness and understanding is my goal,” she tells me.

On screen she coins a catch-all: “It’s not about why it happened, it is about how we make it stop.” Not that she wants to obliterate the past or paint it in rosier colors; on the contrary. In the film she journeys to Denmark to revisit her past and she travels with her brother to Nanortalik in southern Greenland; a painful recollection of a rough childhood and an angry father. Hunger was close and discarded fruits from the dump part of the diet. She seeks to acknowledge the past, but as a window to a better future:

“I think many of us just stop there because the ‘how-to-stop-it’ is just too much work. We see suicide happening all over. We see homelessness everywhere. We see abuse. We see so many injustices in our everyday life. But do we do something about it? No, we go, ‘oh, I’m too busy’,” she says.

On screen she writes the first sentence of a book: “Is it possible to change the world and mend your own wounds at the same time?”

She travels extensively, and seeks out any and all that might inspire her or be inspired themselves. She calls on other Inuit in particular, but also on many others, including a Sámi community in northern Sweden. She embraces the young, the old, politicians, students and all in between:

“It is really up to you. It’s up to us to do something. If we all decided to put in one, five or ten percent of our everyday life to do something with issues that we care about we could move mountains,” she says.

“That’s what I would like to see. It’s not good enough to just say something. There’s way too many people who just say something and don’t go past that.”

“Twice Colonized” (92 min.) by Lin Alluna (Denmark), written and lived by Aaju Peter. “Twice Colonized” was filmed in Nunavut, Canada, Greenland, Denmark, Brussels,  New York and in a Sámi community in northern Sweden. Produced by Emile Hertling Péronard, Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, Bob Moore and Stacey Aglok Macdonald, a team bridging both Greenland and Nunavut. ÁNORÂK FILM, RED MARROW MEDIA, EYESTEELFILM and REEL PICTURES.

This text was first published on ArcticToday.com on March 22, 2023


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Russia gets approval for much of its Arctic Ocean seabed claim

marts 1, 2023 • Af
A map of the Arctic Ocean shows the approximate extent of the area where the UN CLCS approved the data associated with Russia’s claim (yellow) and for which it requested more information (brown). This coverage of the CLCS’s approval – which appeared in Weekendavisen in Denmark and on ArcticToday.com in the US – became the first media coverage of the event in the world. (Andreas Peretti / Weekendavisen / DK)

After more than 20 years of extensive diplomacy and expeditions with icebreakers, research vessels and submarines under the polar sea ice, Russia has received approving recommendations of the majority of its claim to the rights to the seabed in the central parts of the Arctic Ocean from the UN’s Commission for the Limitation of the Continental Shelf, the CLCS.

The CLCS, a body under the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea and the prime international authority on the rights of coastal states to the seabed beyond their maritime borders, reached that conclusion on February 6 in New York. Russia’s war in Ukraine has not halted the processing of its claim.

We do not know all the details, but the CLCS has released a 63-page summary. A qualified estimate based on the accompanying maps indicates that Russia has got the CLCS’ approval — or “recommendations” — of data and measurements in support of a claim for approximately 1.7 million square kilometers of seabed in the central parts of the Arctic Ocean. This is an area the size of France, Italy, Germany and Spain combined.

The CLCS’s recommendations of the Russian data and methodology are not the final words in the international discussion on the rights to the Arctic seabed, but the CLCS has now validated the majority of Russia’s claim.

The Russian claim — or “submission” in CLCS terminology — stretches from Russia’s exclusive economic zone in the waters north of Russia across the North Pole until it reaches the exclusive economic zones of Canada and Greenland, which is part of the Danish kingdom.

In the seas north of the Bering Strait and Alaska Russia’s claim stops at a straight line defined by a separate agreement with the U.S. from 1990 which delimits the territorial sea and continental shelf between the two nations.

Only a smaller portion of Russia’s claim, approximately midway between the North Pole and the Russian islands of Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zelma (see map above) was not, at the time of the CLCS final considerations, sufficiently documented in the eyes of the commission. Instead, the CLCS invited Russia to provide additional information, which Russia then did in a partially revised submission on February 14. The CLCS’s processing of this new information is now pending.

Strength and wealth

Russia has not issued any public statement in response to the recommendations from the CLCS, possibly because of the last outstanding issues, but the commission’s conclusions have long been anticipated. For more than two decades the government of president Putin has illustrated a strong interest in these developments.

Through its accumulated claims for some 75 percent of the seabed in the international parts of the Arctic Ocean, including the North Pole and its powerful mythology, Moscow has signaled its perceived strength and robustness to the Russian public and to the world. Several previous leaders of Russia and the Soviet Union have used the conquest of the Russian Arctic for similar projections of power and strength.

Only four days before the announcement of the CLCS’s recommendations of Russia’s claim, Russian President Vladimir Putin headed a discussion within Russia’s Security Council on the Arctic seabed.Exports of oil and gas from land based or offshore facilities in the Russian half of the Arctic already play a significant role in the Russian economy and for its ability to sustain its military invasion of Ukraine. The vision of still more riches from new parts of the Arctic seabed may possibly help bolster additional faith in the future of the Russia’s government, even if Western geologists have largely dismissed the idea of commercially viable oil and gas in the Arctic Ocean other than in the more shallow waters in the existing exclusive economic zones of Russia and other Arctic states.

Ministers from Putin’s government have attended several of the 30 some meetings held by CLCS and its relevant subcommittee in New York to discuss Russia’s claim.

Russia submits claim on the North Pole to UN – but oil aspirations seem dead in the water - Bellona.org

 

Meanwhile, parachuting Russian troops have practiced at the North Pole and in 2007 president Putin issued medals when two small Russian submarines planted a Russian’s flag on the seabed at the North Pole some 4,300 meters below the surface. In the run-up to the winter Olympic Games in Russia in 2014, a Russian vessel brought  runners and the Olympic Torch Relay to the North Pole, and orthodox priests have also blessed Russia’s Arctic endeavors at the North Pole.

It seems likely, therefore, that Moscow will celebrate the recommendations of the CLCS, and they will most likely be seen as a substantial victory for Russian science and technology.

As the Danish geophysicist Christian Marcussen, a former senior advisor of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland and Project Leader of the Greenland parts of the kingdom of Denmark’s continental shelf project from 2003 to 2015, told ArcticToday: “If I had used decades on this case for Russia, I would call this a really impressive result of my life’s work”.

The contest continues

The CLCS’ recommendations of Russia’s claim should not be misread, however. The broad partial approval of Russia’s claim does not mean that Russia has now won the rights to the disputed parts of the Arctic seabed.

The Kingdom of Denmark (on behalf of Greenland) and Canada have also filed substantial claims with the CLCS and these are still waiting for CLCS evaluation.

Norway has filed claims in other parts of the Arctic Ocean and the U.S. reportedly has prepared, but not yet submitted to the CLCS, claims reaching from the waters north of Alaska towards the North Pole.

The claims of Canada and the Denmark/Greenland both overlap substantially with Russia’s and the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea stipulates that in such cases any disagreement about the final borders will have to be settled by the states themselves.

The CLCS will evaluate whether the claims of each state is supported by sufficient data and correct measurements but the CLCS will not serve as arbitrator, if any other state — say Canada —  provides data to prove that the seabed in question connects to its continental shelf in the same way it connects to Russia’s.

“The CLCS in its summary explicitly explains that the CLCS will not determine how the pie should finally be delimited. It does so precisely to avoid misunderstandings,” Marcussen told ArcticToday.

Large overlaps

The Danish Kingdom’s claim to the seabed in the Arctic Ocean amounts to some 895,000 square kilometers. According to the Institute for Border Research at the University of Durham in Great Britain it overlaps with Russia’s claim by some 800,000 square kilometers. Canada’s total claim in the Arctic Ocean amounts to some 2.03 million square kilometers out of which some 1.5 million overlap with the Russian claim.

With the CLCS’ recommendations of Russia’s claim now at hand it seems more likely than ever that Danish, Greenlandic and Canadian diplomats will eventually meet with Russian counterparts to negotiate over very large tracts of seabed.

Previously, some observers have doubted whether the governments involved had sufficient data to substantiate the far reaches of their claims, but this doubt should now be waning.

The CLCS in its evaluation of Russia’s claim seem to accept largely Russia’s use of subsea mountain ranges in the Arctic Ocean as a departure point for its claim, something that has not previously been confirmed. This makes it more likely that  large parts of the claims by Denmark/Greenland and Canada will also meet the approval of CLCS.

The CLCS’ decision has reportedly been reached by consensus. To Bjørn Kunoy, a professor of international law and special legal counsel to the foreign service of the Faroe Islands, who has advised Greenland and other states in similar cases, this is noteworthy.

“The conclusions are strengthened by the consensus,” Kunoy told ArcticToday. This will benefit, he finds, all involved as it makes unlikely future challenges to the conclusions.

Kunoy also points towards the time frames involved. Most observers expect that the CLCS will find time to deal with the claim of the Danish Kingdom only by 2032 or later and that Canada will have to wait even longer. Other nations have filed earlier submissions to the CLCS and will be dealt with first.

In the interim, all parties including Russia will have to wait. Despite their largely approving nature, the CLCS’s recommendations of Russia’s claim does not give Russia license to operate on the disputed seabed.

”The point of fact that the submissions of the other contender states will only be considered at a later stage does not in any way challenge their entitlements, also where these will overlap with the area that falls within the entitlement of Russia,” Kunoy explains.

Some observers have speculated that Russia in the coming years of waiting may get so accustomed to regard the dispute as settled in its favor that the final negotiations on the subsea borders will be more difficult.

In the meantime, there are no known indications that Russia will abandon its adherence to the UN rules for peaceful delimitation of the Arctic seabed. Since 2001, Russia has followed the relevant regulations as stipulated by the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea. Moscow has accepted on an ongoing basis the CLCS’ admission of claims to the Arctic seabed by other states and that the CLCS will eventually deal with these as it has now dealt with Russia’s.

As this article was published on ArcticToday.com  27 February 2023 it marked the first media coverage in the world of the CLCS’ decision. 


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Grønlands forfatningsudkast bliver det første detaljerede bud på et uafhængigt Grønland

februar 7, 2023 • Af

Grønlands første og hidtil eneste Selvstændighedsminister Suka K. Frederiksen (tv) med den første formand for Grønlandsforfatningskommission Vivian Motzfeldt i 2017 (Foto: Grønlands Selvstyre).

Det begyndte i Nuuk en grå lørdag i november 2016.

Mødet var hasteindkaldt, publikumsrækkerne pakket til sidste stol. Udenfor i mørket foran Inatsisartut, det grønlandske parlament, lå bunker af våd sne, men stemningen i parlamentssalen var glædesfuld og varm.

Det hele kulminerede, da de fleste af parlamentsmedlemmerne til sidst spontant sprang op og klappede.Efter mere end ti års tilløb havde et flertal stemt i flok: Grønland skulle have sin egen forfatning. Under forhandlingerne havde den politiske veteran, tidligere landsstyreformand Lars-Emil Johansen ligefrem læst højt af ‘Sinnattugaq’, ‘En grønlænders drøm’ af Mathias Storch, Grønlands første roman fra 1914:

“Døren er nu åben, træd indenfor og begynd arbejdet. Den, der arbejder, får sin løn med Guds nåde.”Kritikerne advarede om, at det gik for hurtigt. Detaljerne var ikke på plads, sagde de, men det stoppede ikke processen. En måned forinden havde en ny koalitionsregering i Nuuk forklaret pointen i sit regeringsgrundlag:“Grønland er uigenkaldeligt på vej mod selvstændighed, og denne proces kræver ikke alene politisk stabilitet, men også national samling. Parterne er enige om at fremføre forslag til en ny forfatning ved udgangen af denne valgperiode.“

Helt så hurtigt gik det ikke, men nu sker det angiveligt: Naalakkersuisut, det grønlandske landsstyre, har meddelt, at den grønlandske forfatningskommission, nedsat i 2017, sigter efter at levere et udkast til Grønlands fremtidige forfatning 1. april i år.

Går det som planlagt, kan vælgerne i Grønland og alle andre se frem til det første konkrete og samlede bud på, hvilken slags land der sigtes mod, når man i Grønland taler om uafhængighed, løsrivelse og statsdannelse.

Hvem vil være de naturlige statsborgere i det frie Grønland? Hvilken relation vil Grønland have til Danmark? Hvad med sproget? Vil private kunne eje land, eller vil alt land stadig tilhøre fællesskabet? Får naturen særlig status? Hvordan skal landet regeres, forsvares og forvaltes?

Delte meninger i Grønland

Kritikere i Grønland, herunder Grønlands gamle liberale parti Atassut, har stemplet forfatningsprocessen som dyr og overflødig. Atassut ser gerne, at rigsfællesskabet med Danmark fortsætter, og partiet trak sig helt ud af forfatningsarbejdet i 2021. Andre hylder til gengæld forfatningsprojektet som helt centralt for afklaring af Grønlands egne mål og værdier.

Erik Jensen, formand for Siumut, Grønlands for tiden næststørste parti, og viceformand for Grønlands regerende koalition, lød begejstret, da jeg mødte ham til Naalakkersuisuts nytårskur i København i forrige uge:

“Det gælder om at få befolkningen inddraget og debatten i gang om, hvordan landet skal styres fremadrettet. Vores partis program er jo, at vi skal blive selvstændige og herrer i eget hus. Det er den store ambition og en del af målsætningen med det her. Vi har store udfordringer i Grønland, og vi skal træffe de rette beslutninger på det rette tidspunkt, men vi tænker langsigtet,” sagde han.

Arbejdet med den nye forfatning

Stort set intet om indholdet af Forfatningsudkastet er endnu sluppet ud. Arbejdet er i perioder gået rigtigt stærkt, det er alt, vi ved. Først når udkastet formelt er overdraget til Naalakkersuisut, vil offentligheden blive inddraget, og forfatningsudkastet sat til debat i Inatsisartut.

Hvad der herefter skal ske, er ikke klart, men at dømme ud fra den hidtidige politiske debat i Grønland, er det ikke de ledende politikeres plan, at en færdig grønlandsk forfatning nu snarest skal til folkeafstemning, vedtages og sættes i kraft.

På Færøerne rumlede Lagtinget i årene frem mod 2018 med planer om en færøsk forfatning, der skulle fungere i parallelløb med den danske grundlov. Den daværende Lars Løkke-regering mente længe, at det ville være i strid med grundloven. Flere udkast måtte revideres før de danske jurister var tilfredse, nye vanskeligheder opstod i Thorshavn, og Færøerne har stadig ingen egen forfatning.

I Grønland kender man selvsagt de færøske vanskeligheder, og debatten hidtil tyder ikke på, at en fiks og færdig, vedtaget og ikraftsat grønlandsk forfatning nu vil være sigtet på den korte bane. Et forfatningsudkast vil muligvis inspirere til udvalgte forandringer i forholdet til Danmark, men næppe til et parløb eller opgør med den danske grundlov i nærmeste fremtid.

Det nye vil være, at Grønland nu, hvis alt går som planlagt, i fremtiden vil have egen forfatning mere eller mindre klar til ikrafttrædelse den dag, oprettelse af en uafhængig grønlandsk stat måtte blive aktuel. Det er tilhængernes håb, at det vil styrke uafhængighedsprocessen.

Et lovgrundlag i tråd med grønlandske værdier

På Christiansborg vil forfatningsudkastet næppe skabe tumult. Siden Selvstyrets indførelse i 2009 har det stået Grønland “frit for at indlede en forfatningsforberedende proces,” som det hedder i Selvstyrelovens bemærkninger. Tunge problemer opstår først, hvis forfatningsudkastet ophøjes til lov, og den danske grundlov udfordres. Det er der som nævnt næppe udsigt til, uanset at mange i Grønland har et problem med grundloven.

Rigets reviderede grundlov fra 1953, der afsluttede kolonitiden og gjorde Grønland til en del af Danmark og grønlænderne til danske statsborgere, blev født ved folkeafstemning i Danmark, men uden folkeafstemning i Grønland.

Siden har utilfredsheden gæret, og i 2004 var den daværende formand for partiet Inuit Ataqatigiit Josef ‘Tuusi’ Motzfeldt blandt de første til at formulere ønsket om en grønlandsk forfatning:

“Det grønlandske sprog, vor identitet, rådighedsret til landet og vor kultur nyder ikke direkte beskyttelse i den danske grundlov. Det grønlandske folk skal derfor have egen grundlov frem for et forfatningsmæssigt lovgrundlag, som vi føler at have til låns fra Danmark. En grundlov for os som giver udtryk for det grønlandske folks identitet – såvel indadtil som udadtil,” skrev han.

Knaster i kommissionsarbejdet

Forfatningskommissionen består af folkevalgte politikere, der har trukket på nogle få akademiske eksperter, herunder den islandske ombudsmand (Island, der fik egen grundlov i 1874, løsrev sig endeligt fra Danmark under 2. verdenskrig og betragtes på mange måder som foregangsland i Grønland).

Forfatningsprojektet har undervejs været plaget af kontroverser og regerings- og personudskift. Af de oprindelige syv kommissionsmedlemmer er der ingen tilbage, og sekretariatet er tilsvarende forvandlet. Mandatet fra 2017 måtte skrives om, og et kontroversielt forslag om løn og embedsbolig til formanden fik for en tid arbejdet til at grundstøde. I januar 2022 blev den tidligere formand for Naalakkersuisut Kuupik Kleist udpeget til formand for Forfatningskommissionen, men han trak sig efter mindre end fire måneder, angiveligt i frustration over manglende fremdrift.

Kuupik Kleist, tidl. formand for Naalakkersuisut, trak sig fra formandsstolen i forfatningskommissionen efter knap fire måneder. Foto: Marc Jacobsen

I sidste uge kunne nyhedsmediet Sermitsiaq.ag så fortælle, at Naalakkersusisut har mistanke om misforvaltning af Forfatningskommissionens finanser, og en revisionsundersøgelse vil nu løbe parallelt med kommissionens afsluttende arbejde.

Forfatningskommissionen har arbejdet på grønlandsk (med tolk til den islandske rådgiver), men forfatningsudkastet og den medfølgende betænkning udkommer ifølge sekretariatet i Nuuk på både grønlandsk og dansk.

Forfatningskommissionen har før overskredet en deadline, men denne gang er givetvis anderledes. Naalakkersuisut har ikke afsat penge til mere arbejde i Forfatningskommissionen på Finansloven for 2023. Slutspurten gennemføres på resterne fra 2022.

Denne text blev offentliggjort første gang på Altinget / Arktis 30. januar 2023


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Canada extends its Arctic Ocean seabed claim all the way to Russian waters

januar 25, 2023 • Af

A map from Canada’s addendum to its Arctic Ocean seabed claim shows the updated boundaries.
Canada’s claim now extends all the way to Russia’s territorial waters

In an addendum filed in late December 2022, Canada substantially expanded its claim to the Arctic Ocean seabed. Canada’s claim now reaches in several places all the way to Russia’s exclusive economic zone.

The changes to the claim were delivered as a 54-page note, or addendum, to the UN’s Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. The extension is now added to Canada’s original claim from May 2019.

Three accompanying maps show how Canada’s full claim now stretches along the length of the Lomonosov Ridge, a steep sub-sea mountain range to the west of the North Pole, to the limits of Russia’s exclusive economic zone 200 nautical miles from Russia’s coastline. A conservative estimate based on the three maps included indicates that Canada has extended its claim by some 600,000 to 700,000 square kilometers.

The Canadian claim is filed at a time when relations with Russia in the Arctic are severely strained because of Russia’s war on Ukraine. All collaboration with Russia within the Arctic Council, the main inter-governmental body in the Arctic region, is currently paused with no prospect of resuming soon.

Consultations with Russia

The original Canadian claim or submission from 2019 already overlapped with Russia’s claim to the seabed and also with a joint Greenlandic-Danish claim. The Canadian addendum filed with the CLCS on December 19 does not specify how large the overlaps are now, but the accompanying maps indicate that they have grown substantially.

The Canadian extension follows a claim by Denmark-Greenland from 2014 that stretches from Greenlandic waters to Russia’s exclusive economic zone and several extensions of Russia’s original claim from 2001. Russia has claimed in total some 75 percent of the seabed in the central parts of the Arctic Ocean — all according to regulations stipulated by the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea, which regulates the delineation of the seabed in international waters.

Claims to the CLCS may provide the claimant government with exclusive rights to exploit any resources on or under the seabed, but not any substantial privileges in the water column or above it.

Regular meetings between Canada, Russia and Denmark/Greenland at scientific as well as diplomatic level have been held to prevent any conflict, and Canada in its note of December 19 explains that “regular consultations” have been held with Russia during its preparation.

Some western analysts have worried that Russia, which planted in 2007 a much publicized flag on the bottom of the Arctic Ocean, might abandon its adherence to the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea, but no significant moves by Russia to do so have been publicly recorded.

The claims of the three nations will be evaluated by the CLCS’s international panel of experts. The CLCS will evaluate to what extent scientific data submitted by the three nations are sufficient to prove that their continental shelves extend into the Arctic Ocean to the degree their governments claim. The CLCS, however, is not mandated to decide on the final delineation of the seabed. According to the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea, the final delineation of the seabed — including that around the North Pole — should eventually be decided through negotiations among the nations involved.

The CLCS’s evaluation of the claims of all the three nations involved is expected to be finished only in a decade or more. An evaluation by the CLCS of Russia’s claims is expected in 2024, but due to a long queue of other claims from other parts of the world, an evaluation of the Danish-Greenlandic claim is expected only in eight to 10 years from now and an evaluation of Canada’s claim even later.

First published on ArcticToday.com 21. December 2022. 


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Greenland drops cooperation with Russia on fish while the Faroe Island continue controversial quota swaps

december 14, 2022 • Af
Fishing vessels are seen in the port of Nuuk in a 2019 file photo. (Krestia DeGeorge)

Tuesday last week, as discreetly as possible, Greenland delivered a highly unusual message to Moscow.

Greenland will not use its fisheries agreement with Russia to fish for cod and other fish in the Barents Sea  in 2023 and no Russian fishing vessels will have access to the usual quotas of halibut and other fish in Greenland’s waters.

It’s the first time since 1992 — when Greenland and Russia signed a formal deal to swap fishing quotas — that this deal will not lead to talks and a new agreement on quota-swapping for the coming year.

The message to Moscow does not contain, as far as information from the authorities in Nuuk goes, any wording on or protest against Russia’s war in Ukraine. Asked for details, the Department of Fisheries and Hunting of Greenland’s government in Nuuk offers as an explanation only that the fish stocks in Greenland’s water are presently not sufficient to allow for the usual quota swapping with Russia.

There are, however, indications that a silent protest against Russia’s war in Ukraine may be involved.

Greenland’s distinct denouncement of Russia’s war has been communicated on several other occasions.

On February 25, just a day after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Greenland Premier Muté B. Egede issued a blunt press statement: “I forcefully condemn Russia’s acts against the Ukrainian people. They are senseless and for that reason we want to demonstrate our solidarity with the people of Ukraine with our adherence to the international sanctions on Russia,” he said (my translation).

Greenland Prime Minister Muté B. Egede speaks at an event at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. on June 15, 2022. (Melody Schreiber)

In the same move, Greenland’s large publicly owned fishing-enterprise Royal Greenland was ordered to deactivate its activities in Russia, and its CEO Mikael Thinghuus promptly followed up: “Individual needs have to bow to the greater good, and commercial pain is nothing compared to the pain the Ukrainian population is suffering,” he told Sermitsiaq.ag, Greenland’s leading news site.

Royal Greenland has since put up for sale its share of Agama Royal Greenland, a packing business in Russia, which for 25 years has packed and sold Greenland fish and shrimp in Russia. Polar Seafood, Greenland’s largest private fishing company, has also sold off its interests in Russia. Prior to the war in Ukraine, exports to Russia accounted for some 13 percent of Greenland’s total exports.

In October, Egede made clear his continued opposition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in front of some 2,000 international attendees at the annual Arctic Circle conference in Reykjavik: “The government of Greenland condemns the brutal war on Ukraine and Russia’s disregard for international law and order. We clearly stand with the western alliance in this question. Greenland will impose the EU sanctions towards Russia and Russian entities. This is the first time in history that Greenland takes a step like this,” he said.

The message to Moscow leaves open Greenland’s options for a resumption of the quota-swapping in 2024, but for now Greenland cannot easily be blamed for cooperating with Russia on fish.

Discretion

The decision to abstain from quota swapping in 2023 was taken after a closed meeting of Naalakkersuisut, Greenland’s government. No public announcement or statements were made at the time and no later quotable comments from members of the government have so far been available.

Discretion has seemingly been of the highest priority. Last week, when I contacted key members of Inatsisartut, Greenland’s parliament, for comments, they were unaware of their government’s decision to abstain from the quote swapping in 2023.

There might be several reasons behind this decisive silence.

Greenland will have, for one, an interest in preserving a workable relationship with Russia within the ongoing multilateral and difficult negotiations on fishing quotas in the greater North Atlantic. In these negotiations, representatives from Greenland, Norway, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and others are face-to-face with Russian counterparts in negotiations over fish that are of serious economic importance to all involved.

Also, Greenland will have no desire to completely give up its bilateral quota swapping deal with Russia from 1992, hoping as many others that cooperation with Russia will in time be possible again. By sticking in its message to Moscow from last week to words and arguments only related to the sustainability of its fish stocks Greenland commits no breach of the original deal from 1992. This will leave Greenland free to resume swapping from 2024, if Nuuk should wish to.

Although Greenland’s fishing fleet includes a number of large, ocean-going trawlers, such as “Polar Amaroq”, seen here, most fishing is done by smaller boats, and the country sells the rights to the fish it cannot catch to other countries and the EU. (Polar Seafood)

Finally, Greenland, which has reportedly been communicating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Copenhagen before sending its message to Moscow, may be trying to avoid also breaching the complicated rules of engagement within the Kingdom of Denmark.

As part of the Danish realm, Greenland and the Faroe Island are not mandated to take steps with military or security implications against any foreign nation. Under normal circumstances a refusal to swap fishing quotas with Russia for a single year would probably be seen as well within Greenland’s powers to manage its own fishing affairs, but after Russia’s war on Ukraine — and if the message to Moscow had been delivered as a blunt and publicly advertised denunciation of Russia — critics in Denmark might have questioned whether Greenland was suddenly conducting security politics outside its formal powers.

Avoiding critics

Greenland is now likely to escape the kind of international condemnation that is presently raining down on Norway and the Faroe Islands. Both nations have been open in their criticism of Russia’s war in Ukraine, but they also continue their fisheries cooperation with Moscow. This has put the two under heavy flak from the EU in Brussels, where critics say that their continued cooperation on fish are undermining the common European front against Putin’s Russia.

In economic terms, Greenland’s decision to skip quota swapping with Russia in 2023 will most likely have only scant local economic impact. The government in Nuuk will probably have little or perhaps no need to compensate the fishing industry for its loss of quotas in the Barents Sea.

Because of the halt to the quota swapping for 2023, Greenland stands to lose access to some 3,000 tons Russian fish — primarily cod. These fish will not be available to Greenland’s fishing industry, but the two fishing companies involved, Royal Greenland and Polar Seafood, are likely to be given instead access to halibut and other fish in Greenland, which Russian consumers would otherwise have eaten. The trawlers involved can apparently be used for both types of fisheries without, as I understand it, major technical alterations.

The Faroese continue

In contrast, in the Faroe Islands, cooperation with Russia remains a heated and very public issue and it has drawn heavy international attention since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

At the time, the Faroese chose not only to continue their quota swapping with Russia but also to boost their exports of fish from aquaculture, salmon in particular, to the Russian market.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the private enterprises that make up the Faroe Islands aquaculture industry have stopped at their own volition basically all exports to Russia, but the quota swapping with Russia has continued to underpin the sea-borne fishing industry.

Critics claim that the Faroese work against the spirit of western attempts to sanction Russia for its war in Ukraine. The Faroese leaders argue that the export of fish to Russia is not covered by the western sanctions and that a break with Russia on fisheries would endanger Russia’s commitment to sustainable fishing in the entire North Atlantic — an argument also used by Norway in defense of its continued cooperation with Russia.

The turnabout

To learn more, I asked last week for a lift with Høgni Hoydal, the Faroe Islands’ former minister of fisheries. He is also the leader of Tjóðveldi, a left-leaning political party aiming for severance of the islands’ constitutional bonds to Denmark.

We drove to Klaksvik, the Faroe Islands’ second largest town, for the final televised debate before the general elections that took place in the Faroe Islands on December 8.

I knew that Hoydal had argued fervently for a total stop to cooperation with Russia. In his car he repeated his stand: “We cannot continue close cooperation with a country that attacks another country’s civilians, independence and self determination. That is our final moral conclusion,” he told me.

Høgni Hoydal, former minister of fisheries of the Faroe Islands and head of islands’ main independence party, Tjóðveldi. Hoydal argues for a total stop for cooperation with Russia but chose to support a swap of fishing quotas now agreed with Russia for 2023. (Martin Breum)

I asked why then — in the middle of the electoral campaign — he had given his support so that on November 25 the Faroe Island’s government could agree with Moscow to renew its quota swapping deal with Russia for 2023.

Hoydal and Javnaðarflokkurin, a social democratic party which had also argued for a stop to cooperation with Russia, were accused of cheap sucking up to voters from the Faroe Islands’ fishing communities, but Hoydal waved off the accusations:

“When elections were called, we were faced with another moral obligation, namely that towards the least fortunate on the Faroe Islands. To break with Russia would have in the short term enormous impact on the many families whose income depends on the cod from the Barents Sea,” he said.

He argued that duly prepared compensations to those who would lose their fishing quotas or their salary must be in place before any rupture to the deal with Russia.

“That was why we had to support the extension of the fisheries arrangement and then form a new government that can discontinue the arrangement in an orderly fashion,” he said.

Still in the car, he explained that the Faroese trawlers that are equipped to catch Russian cod in the Barents Sea cannot easily be adapted to catch the kind of fish sought by Russian vessels in Faroese waters. Unlike in Greenland, he said, difficult and expensive transitions would be needed if such transition was to be made.

In 2023, Faroese fishing vessels will have access to some 18,000 tons of Russian fish, while Russian vessels will catch fish of roughly the same value in Faroese waters. They will also reload and service their ships in Faroese harbors.

As I write, the elections in the Faroe Island are over, but the Faroe Islands still have no new government. Most likely, the leader of the social democrats, Aksel Johansen, will be the next premier of the Faroe Island.

If so, his promise to not enter into any quota swapping with Russia for 2024 unless the war in Ukraine is over will follow him into office.

Meanwhile, I learned that dissatisfaction is growing among ordinary Faroese:

“The Faroe Islands are changing. Still more people feel bad when all that seems to matter is money. Some still say that we are a very small country and that it makes no difference what we do, but most people find today that as Faroese we also have to be decent people,” said Hallbera West, an assistant professor of political science at the University of the Faroe Islands.

This text was first published on ArcticToday.com 14. December 2022.


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Putins krig skader klimaforskningen i Arktis

december 1, 2022 • Af
Præsident Putins krig i Ukraine gør skade på det avancerede internationale modelarbejde, der skal forudsige klimaets udvikling. Forskerne bag klimamodellerne må nu undvære centrale data fra Ruslands kolossale arktiske provinser, hvor temperaturen ligesom i andre dele af Arktis stiger fire gange så hurtigt som i resten af verden.
Uden en støt strøm af data og forskning fra denne del af Arktis, vil resten af verden miste vigtig viden om klimakrisens natur og forventlige udvikling.Danmark, USA, EU og resten af den vestlige verden har stoppet stort set alt samarbejde med russiske forskningsinstitutioner, og danske, tyske og andre udenlandske forskere, der tidligere har hentet data om atmosfæren, polarisen og permafrosten i det russiske Arktis, kan ikke længere rejse ind i Rusland.

prof. Hanne Hvidtfeldt Christiansen, der forsker i permafrost, forudser langvarige skader på klimaforskningen. Foto: UNIS, Svalbard

En af Danmarks fremmeste forskere i permafrost, professor Hanne Hvidtfeldt Christiansen, der til dagligt arbejder på UNIS, Universitetssenteret på Svalbard, fortalte mig om det voksende dilemma i sidste uge på det årlige træf for danske, grønlandske og færøske polarforskere på Hindsgavl Slot udenfor Middelfart:

“Det er halvdelen af Arktis, der ikke leverer data. Vi har ikke adgang til, hvad der egentlig foregår. Vi har brug for hele Arktis, når man for eksempel skal verificere sine modeller. Der er rigtigt mange russiske og andre forskere, der har brugt tid på at opbygge målinger af eksempelvis permafrost i Sibirien, hvor den tykkeste permafrost i verden findes, men de data har vi ikke adgang til længere. Der opstår en større usikkerhed om, hvorvidt man modellerer korrekt. Det bliver en joker i det arbejde, man laver,” siger hun.

Arktis på pause

Problemerne begyndte i marts, da den danske regering sammen med de øvrige seks vestlige regeringer i Arktisk Råd satte alt samarbejde med Rusland i Arktisk Råd på pause – inklusive de mange forskningsprogrammer, der udgør kernen af rådets arbejde. Samtidig har EU stoppet al kontakt med Rusland i EU-finansierede forskningsprogrammer.

Pausen i Arktis Råds samarbejde med Rusland har ingen fast udløbsdato, og politikerne bag beslutningen har ikke angivet faste kriterier for, hvornår den kan ophæves.

I forskningsmiljøerne kalkuleres der derfor med potentielt ganske langvarige, negative effekter.

“Indtil videre tænker vi ikke så meget over det, fordi vi tidligere har haft en hvis adgang til data fra Rusland. Men hvad så med fremtiden? Hvis jeg må være lidt sortsynet, så kan det jo godt tage en generation, før vi har gang i de her ting igen,” siger Hanne Hvidtfeldt Christiansen.

Også i diplomatiet frygter man et langvarigt hul i samarbejdet. Selv garvede diplomater taler nu om udsigt til “sameksistens” i stedet for “samarbejde” med Rusland i Arktis.

Til den årlige Arctic Circle konference, der samlede mere en 2000 deltagere i Reykjavik i oktober, fortalte David Balton, der leder præsident Bidens Arctic Executive Steering Committee, at man efter Ruslands invasion i Ukraine seriøst overvejede at droppe målsætningen om “samarbejde med alle” i USA’s seneste arktiske strategi, der blev offentliggjort fra 7. oktober.

Nordisk formandskab

David Balton advarede også om, at alle kontakter med vestlige forskere kan være farlige for de russiske forskere; en advarsel, der blev gentaget i Middelfart i sidste uge.

Mere optimistiske forskere, diplomater og politikere som Aaja Chemnitz, folketingsmedlem for Inuit Ataqatigiit, øjner dog et vist håb i det faktum, at Norge i maj 2023 afløser Rusland som formand for Arktisk Råd, og at det fra 2025 er Danmarks og dernæst Sveriges tur, i alt seks år med nordisk formandskab og muligheder for samordning.

Aaja Chemnitz, der også er præsident for Arctic Parliamentarians, et samarbejdsorgan for politikere fra de otte arktiske nationer, håber, at en langsom opblødning i forholdet til Rusland i Arktis kan begynde i efteråret 2023: “For langt de fleste aktører i Arktis er krigen i Ukraine afgørende for, om man vil samarbejde med Rusland eller ej. Men jeg tror, at Norge fra maj næste år vil begynde at rykke ved nogle ting. Vi er nødt til at have en diskussion om, hvad vi vil forsøge at opnå i Arktisk Råd, hvis krigen i Ukraine trækker ud i flere år – måske et helt årti,” fortalte hun mig i Middelfart.

Forskningen i Arktis kan måske blive noget af det første, man kan samarbejder med Rusland om igen: “Jeg håber, at vi med udsigt til seks års nordisk formandskab kan få en diskussion om, hvorvidt vi måske på et tidspunkt kan få et samarbejde med enkelte  aktører i Rusland på forskningsområdet,” siger hun. Her er der historisk præcedens.

Under Den Kolde Krig bidrog USA, Kina, Rusland og Canada til opblødning af de hårde politiske fronter netop ved at samarbejde om forskning i permafrost i International Permafrost Association: “Man besøgte og lærte om permafrost hos hinanden, og det var klart noget man gjorde også for at skubbe til en bredere udvikling”, fortæller Hanne Hvidtfeldt Christiansen, der var IPA’s præsident fra 2016 til 2020. The International Permafrost Association blev stiftet i 1983 og bidrager stadig til forskningsdiplomatiet.

Ny dansk plan

Universiteterne stillede sammen med DMI og en række andre institutioner inden udskrivelsen af Folketingsvalget via Forum for Arktisk Forskning et forslag til forsknings- og uddannelsesminister Jesper Petersen om en ekstraordinær femårig polarforsknings-indsats til 300 millioner kroner. De håber, at en ny regering vil behandle forslaget i starten af 2023, hvor en forsinket finanslov for 2023 formentlig skal forhandles på plads.

Polarforskerne i Grønland, Færøerne og Danmark lagde i 2020 tilsammen 662 årsværk – heraf 107 i Grønland og 42 på Færøerne. De 300 millioner skal øge polarforskningen efter strategisk udvalgte mål.

Jesper Petersen foreslog inden valget, at en del af pengene måske kunne findes blandt de ekstra milliarder til forsvaret, som et flertal på Christiansborg allerede er enige om.

Forsvaret støtter i forvejen forskningen i Arktis med skibstransport og anden logistik, og Forsvaret er selv i stigende grad afhængig af ny viden om polarisen, storme og andre klimafænomener.

International bekymring

Forskerne skal navigere i et stadig mere spændingsfyldt Arktis, men det bliver uden Rusland; på det punkt er alle forskere i Vesten i samme båd: Professor Donie Bret-Harte, videnskabelig leder af USA’s største arktiske forskningsstation, Toolik Field Station i Alaska, fortalte mig nogle uger forud for mødet i Middelfart, hvordan de russiske forskere også har problemer, fordi de må undvære pengene fra international forskningsprogrammer: “Pausen i samarbejdet har gjort det meget vanskeligere for mange russiske forskere at arbejde, fordi deres adgang til finansiering er svundet ind. Jeg tror, at der vil opstå et stort hul i vores viden,” sagde hun under et møde på Island i INTERACT, et pan-arktisk netværk af arktiske forskningsstationer, der nu må undvære de russiske medlemmer.

Hun advarede ligesom David Balton fra præsident Bidens Arktis-råd om de risici, enhver kontakt med vesten betyder for russiske forskere, og hun forudså en lang skadesperiode: “Jo længere pausen varer, jo sværere vil det blive at få tingene i gang igen bagefter,” sagde hun.

Selv holder hun dog personlige, private relationer ved lige: “Jeg mener, at sanktionerne mod Rusland er helt på sin plads, og jeg efterlever dem gerne. Men jeg føler stærkt, at den indsats, der gøres på individuelt plan for at fastholde samarbejder, ikke bør stoppes. Putins forsøg på at isolere hans folk; det mener jeg ikke, at vi skal hjælpe ham med.”

En af hendes kolleger, den britiske professor Terry Callaghan, der i mere end 50 år har drevet polarforskning ofte i samarbejde med russiske kolleger anser adgang til det russiske Arktis for helt uundværlig, og en hvis grad af kontakt bør opretholdes på privat niveau på trods af krigen i Ukraine: “Det landområder, der er centrale for at forstå at forstå de feedback-mekanismer, som afgør, hvad der sker med klimaet og biodiversiteten på resten af kloden. Vi kan se på satellitbilleder, hvad der sker på jordens overflade, men vi kan ikke forstå, hvorfor forandringerne finder sted. Vi er nødt til at have folk på pletten,” fortalte han.

“Det har taget mere end 30 år at opbygge tillid og samarbejde, siden Sovjetunionen faldt sammen. Hvis først den tillid ødelægges, bliver det ikke nogen hurtig proces at bygge den op igen. Vi er nødt til at bevare nogle broer. Hvis ikke vi har nogen overhovedet, vil det være en katastrofe for fremtiden,” siger han

Artiklen blev første gang bragt på Altinget/Arktis 1. december 2022


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The Danish Kingdom’s Arctic votes are suddenly decisive, forcing postcolonial dilemmas to surface

november 12, 2022 • Af

Not since Donald Trump’s flamboyant 2019 vision of a U.S. takeover of Greenland, the world’s largest island, has the Kingdom of Denmark’s unique postcolonial construct demanded so much attention of the Danes themselves.

In 2019, the strength of the union between Denmark and Greenland was tested by the sudden move by then-President Trump. Now, after general elections that were held in Denmark on November 1, the kingdom’s internal relations have once again come under renewed scrutiny.

 

Aki-Mathilda Høegh-Dam (right) and Aaja Chemnitz, the two parliamentarians from Greenland now hold decisive powers. Photo: Leiff Josefsen

Since the election, three North Atlantic members of the Danish parliament — two from Greenland, a former Danish colony, and one from the Faroe Islands, a semi-autonomous group of 18 islands in the North Atlantic — have held the power to decide who will lead the government in Copenhagen for the next four years.

I can assure you that this is not a common situation in Copenhagen, the Kingdom’s capital, from where I write, and on the fringes of the furor that this situation has provoked in some quarters, thoughts of possible changes to our constitution are now being aired.

Arctic power

Although the situation is unusual, everything is happening according to carefully elaborated rules and procedures constructed to keep the Danish Kingdom inclusive and operating like a well-oiled machine. Even if there is more than 3,500 kilometers separating Copenhagen from Nuuk, Greenland is still — like the Faroe Islands — a part of the kingdom (unlike Iceland, which severed its last formal ties to the Danish king in 1943 and became a fully independent sovereign republic).

As we digest the peculiar details of the present, many Danes have been forced to revisit our old relations to the Faroe Islands and Greenland and to recount why it is that a tiny number of votes, cast by people who live far away in the Arctic and who speak their own separate languages, can suddenly hold such sway over our national politics.

The basic question, of course is whether it is still fair and good that the peoples of Greenland and the Faroe Islands have such powers?

Are the old rules and procedures, established in another era, still legitimate and sufficiently reflective of our values and ideals?

As one of our former prime ministers, the liberal Lars Løkke Rasmussen quipped on television in the late hours of the election night as he licked his electoral wounds:

“If you look at Denmark — not the Danish realm, but Denmark — there is no red majority. Only because of the way the votes fall in Greenland is there a red majority,” he said.

Others followed suit. Nobody questioned openly the electoral system that  allows the North Atlantic members of the Danish parliament their powers, but the electoral campaign had already revealed how Danish politicians will at times lack respect for their North Atlantic counterparts.

One contender for the office of the prime minister, the conservative leader Søren Pape Poulsen, was quoted during the campaign as remarking that “Greenland is just Africa on ice,” a slur allegedly aired during a visit to the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen. Poulsen had to apologize to the people of Greenland on prime time TV while a roar of dissatisfaction made its way from Nuuk.

Laws and tradition

Many Danes would be unable to remember the full explanation as to why voters in the Faroe Islands and in Greenland can suddenly wield such influence over the political process in Denmark.

As our constitution was put in place in 1849, the Faroese were considered part and parcel of Denmark’s cultural and historic realm. There were less than 10,000 people living on the islands at the time. Moreover, the islands were steered by Danish officials, the islanders spoke (and still speak) a Nordic language, and as a new parliamentary system was established on the basis of the Kingdom’s new constitution, the Faroese were guaranteed the right to elect two members of parliament.

In 1953, following a national referendum in Denmark (but not in Greenland), the constitution was revised and an end was put to Greenland’s colonial status. Greenland was turned instead into a fully integrated part of the Danish Kingdom and those who lived in Greenland became, like the Faroese, Danish citizens.

As all legislation pertaining to Greenland came from Denmark, Greenland was accorded the same right to elect two members of parliament.

The four North Atlantic members have since been counted as fully mandated members of parliament in Copenhagen. They carry exactly as much or as little political weight and influence as the 175 other members of parliament — and this is all stipulated by the constitution.

Most of the year, the efforts of these four members of parliament raise few alarms. The media, the public and most Danish politicians seldomly concern themselves with the affairs of Greenland or the Faroe Islands, but then — boom — suddenly, as in these days, the four extra votes may become crucially important as a majority in the Folketing, Denmark’s parliament, is needed to form a new government.

Tiny votes

This is then the resulting state of affairs: As I write this on Tuesday, a struggle for the central hold on political power in Denmark hinges on three politicians from Greenland and the Faroe Islands, who have chosen to support the efforts of Mette Frederiksen to form a new government.

Behind them stand relatively small numbers of voters. The two from Greenland received 4,289 (Aaja Chemnitz) and 6,655 votes (Aki-Mathilda Høegh-Dam). That is, from a Danish perspective, not a lot of people, and as the media in Denmark have been careful to report, more than half of the electorate in Greenland did not even take part in the elections. Most people in Greenland seem to care more about who holds power in Inatsisartut or Naalakkersuisut, the parliament and government in Greenland, respectively.

Sjurdur Skaale finds the power he suddenly holds over DAnish politics unreasonable

Sjúrður Skaale, the Faroese, won 3,804 votes at the polls in the Faroe Islands. In total, less than 15,000 voters invested in these three politicians, but if only one of them changes his or her mind tomorrow, the political situation in Copenhagen will be turned on its head. Somebody other than Frederiksen will win the power to lead negotiations to form the next government.

Unreasonable?

While we wait for the results, Frederiksen, a Social Democrat and acting prime minister, has won the mandate to lead the negotiations.

At the elections, her Social Democratic party and the center-left parties that support her won exactly 90 seats or a marginal majority of the 179 seats in parliament, but only if you include the three members from the North Atlantic who have chosen to support her.

We have to look back to a general election in 1998 to find a similar situation. The Danish prime minister of those days won another four years in office only through the support of a single politician from the Faroe Islands. The balance tipped when the Faroese support was declared on TV late into election night.

To top up the current turmoil, Sjurdur Skaale, the Faroese Social Democrat now re-elected into key position, argues that his own immediate hold on power is both undemocratic and illegitimate.

In and op-ed for JyllandsPosten, one of Denmark’s main media outles, he wrote last week:

“When a legitimate, democratic election leads to a result that is unfair and illegitimate, there is something wrong with the very system.”

“When many now find it problematic that I and the two Greenlandic members of parliament decide who will be prime minister, it confirms this very grave condition: The constitutional provisions for the four North Atlantic members might undermine Danish democracy.”

Outdated constitution

Skaale’s main point is that the Faroe Islands of today is a very different nation from the Faroe Islands of 1851, when the first Faroese politicians took their seats in the newly established parliament in Copenhagen.

In those days, the legislators in Copenhagen coined basically all legislation pertaining to the Faroe Island, and most people found it natural that Faroese politicians took part in the legislative process.

Today, as Sjurdur Skaale is at pains to explain, the kingdom works in radically different ways.

“The political development has led us far beyond the legal boundaries of the constitution. If the constitution is a size 42 shoe, the Danish realm is a size 47 foot,” Skaale writes.

Today, most legislation for the Faroe Island is designed and decided on by Lagtinget, the Faroese parliament, and Landsstyret, the Faroese government in Torshavn, just as most legislation in Greenland is designed and decided by Inatsisartut, Greenland’s parliament, and Naalakkersuisut, Greenland’s government in Nuuk. The role of Folketinget has been greatly reduced.

“I now hold a seat in a parliament that does not legislate for the voters who have elected me,” Skaale wrote. He also finds it wrong that he can influence Danish legislation that will put burdens on Danes in Denmark, even if the Danish electorate cannot pay him back:

“Through the fiscal bill I can lay burdens on citizens who cannot punish me at the next elections. They cannot reach me. I am elected in another country,” he wrote.

Skaale has advocated an update to the Danish constitution for some time, but he has been unable to raise any sizeable support in Copenhagen and there is little support for his view in Greenland: “I see no reason to devalue the worth of our mandate. It is described in the constitution,” Aaja Chemnitz, one of the two re-elected members from Greenland told me a few days ago. She is currently using her suddenly swollen influence to push for, for instance, quick implementation of the largest ever investigation into possible Danish wrong-doings in Greenland, a project that was agreed prior to the elections.

Last year, when Skaale tried to win support for his views in Folketinget, Prime Minister Frederiksen answered with a dismissal:

“The four North Atlantic members of Folketinget bring something very, very important — a focus on the conditions that pertain in particular to the Faroe Islands and Greenland, but also to the combined efforts of the realm. I have no problems with or and suggestions for changes to the conditions under which we work.”

 

First published at ArcticToday.com 8 November 2022