Greenland Halts Cooperation with Arctic Council
    2013-05-16 05:14:29     Xinhua       Web Editor: Mao Yaqing

Greenland had decided to suspend its cooperation with the Arctic council, the Greenlandic government said in a statement on Tuesday evening.

Besides, Greenland would boycott the biennial ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council, which was convened on Wednesday in the city of Kiruna, north Sweden, according to the statement.

"The cooperation with the Arctic Council has been a top priority for Greenland's autonomous government. To make such a decision is very difficult but necessary," it said.

Greenland and the Faeroe Islands, which lie in the Arctic Circle and High Atlantic respectively, are both self-governing territories of Denmark. Under an agreement with Denmark, Greenland gained full autonomy over its natural resources and internal affairs while Denmark still controls its foreign and defense affairs.

Until Sweden took over the rotating chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2011, Denmark had kept three chairs at the Arctic Council negotiations table, with a representative from each part of the Danish commonwealth -- Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Denmark.

"Since autumn 2011, Greenland has been unable to sit at the negotiations table of the Arctic Council. It is on contrary to the past practice, as Greenland had been present at key negotiations since the Arctic Council was established in 1996," said the statement.

Some 230 people, including ministers, delegates from the eight Arctic states, representatives of indigenous peoples, scientists and observers gathered in Kiruna on Wednesday, which marks the end of the two-year Swedish presidency of the council.

Greenlandic leader Aleqa Hammond boycotted the event and did not go to Kiruna.

"We fear that this situation may continue during the next Canadian presidency. Therefore, I believe that we have to do something drastic," Hammond said to the Greenlandic newspaper Sermitsiaq AG.

The Arctic Council, founded in 1996, groups eight countries with territories in the Arctic area -- Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.

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