How does Denmark manage Groenland

Denmark's colonies I

Images of raw rock and pack ice, majestic glaciers and icebergs appear before my inner eye. Endless, snow-covered mountain landscapes, freezing cold and the howling north wind. Endless dark winters, glaring summer nights. Northern lights. We are in Greenland, home of the polar bears. If you imagine the state of Denmark on the map, you usually have the characteristic pointed jutland peninsula and the smaller islands of Funen and Zealand in mind. But in addition to the motherland, the Faroe Islands, an archipelago in the North Atlantic, and Greenland also belong to the national territory. The island (Danish Grønland, Greenlandic Kalaallit Nunaat, translated 'Land of Kalaallit') belongs geographically to the North American continental mass and is much closer to Canada than Denmark. This makes the administration a bit complicated to understand, and also regularly leads to confusion when playing city-country-river games. Is Greenland a separate country or not? The area flies its own flag and has its own official language, but forms a so-called 'autonomous part' of the Kingdom of Denmark and is therefore part of Europe from a political point of view, but not of the EU. In this case, autonomous means that the Greenland government manages all internal affairs, but is represented by the Danish government in foreign and defense policy. In the Folketing, the Danish parliament, Greenland is also represented by two members. That seems like a small delegation in relation to a land area of ​​over two million square kilometers, but reasonable with a population of about 56,000 people in what is, if one does not count Antarctica, the most sparsely populated region in the world. More interesting, but also trickier than the facts and figures, is the transnational relationship between Greenland and Denmark. These tensions are deeply rooted in Denmark's history as a colonial power. Although Greenland now has the status of an equal member in the Union, it is still financially dependent, as the country receives a significant amount of subsidies every year, without which the economy, infrastructure, education and health care could not survive. This fact has far-reaching consequences. On the one hand, the view is widespread that the Danish state should continue to provide economic support to Greenland as reparation for the colonization, i.e. a kind of reparation payments out of moral obligation. On the other hand, some Danes feel that Greenland is a burden; this thinking is influenced not only by purely economic concerns, but also by prejudices against the largely Inuit ethnic population. Greenlanders living in Denmark are stigmatized because many of them are returnable bottle collectors, homeless or alcoholics, says Dennis, a Danish acquaintance, when I asked his opinion about Greenland. Corruption and questionable humanitarian conditions in some regions are also a problem. In the public opinion, however, the topic is not particularly present, except when it comes to independence. There is a general consensus here that with complete independence, no more money should flow to Greenland. Accordingly, support is cyclical for the parties that advocate a complete secession from the Danish Kingdom: in times of economic prosperity they gain popularity, in recession they lose votes. However, it is questionable whether the separatist tendencies will be successful in the near future, because despite the large oil and mineral deposits, it is not foreseeable whether the region will make the leap into economic self-sufficiency. But the question is also whether a country that has been dependent on foreign support for so long is even able to get away from it. “It's actually not a good way to run a country,” says Dennis. Greenland and its many problems are a painful monument to the times when the Danish Empire conquered large areas of territory, appropriated resources and subjugated the local population. It also serves as a reminder of the often forgotten fact that even in the most developed countries in the world there is social inequality, poverty and a lack of prospects.