Strategic hot spot Greenland sparks global tug-of-war – by Alex Matthews (Deutsche Welle – May 23, 2020)

The US has always seen Greenland under its sphere of influence. But the island’s increasing independence is threatening that. As it becomes more global, China and Russia see a chance to control the Arctic.

The last time the US opened a consulate on Greenland was in 1940. The German Army had just invaded Denmark and the Americans wanted to stop the Nazis gaining a foothold in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

This summer the US is reopening its diplomatic mission in Nuuk for the first time since 1953, as well as offering the island nation $12 million (€11 million) in investments. The money will be used to boost the territory’s mineral industries, tourism and education.

The United States’ goal this time is exactly the same it was 80 years ago. A US State Department official said a press briefing that it wants “a secure and stable Arctic where US interests are safeguarded.” But this time around it’s not Germany the US sees as challenging its interests. Now it’s Russia and China.

Greenland not for sale

Greenland is an autonomous territory of the Kingdom of Denmark. Since 2009, a self-government agreement allows it run all its own affairs except foreign policy and defense, which fall under Denmark’s remit.

Sara Olsvig was leader of Greenland’s largest opposition party, Inuit Ataqatigiit, until October 2018 and is about to begin a doctorate on US-Greenland relations. “The self-government agreement from 2009, in which we are also recognized as a people in international law, is still something that is the foundation of how we see ourselves in the world as a people,” she explains.

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