Greenland votes for ample autonomy and moves towards independence

Three out of every four voters vote yes in a referendum held yesterday on the Arctic island · The new statute recognizes the Greenlanders as a distinct people and gives it the right to self-determination, as well as the right to control their natural resources and making Greenland’s language the only official language in the island.

Greenlanders have given their support to the new autonomy plan proposed by Prime Minister Hans Enoksen that has granted the island, currently under Danish administration, an autonomous ruling that includes full management of their natural resources -mainly oil and gas- and the right to the self-determination of the people of Greenland. With a participation of more than 70% and the support of three out of four voters (a total of 75% of the population), the results of the referendum held yesterday show the clear intentions of the inhabitants of the Artic island, the largest in the world, to become a country with full rights.

Copenhagen and Nuuk (Greenland's capital) have agreed to comply to the referendum's results. As compensation for the profits that Denmark will stop receiving from the island's natural resources, an agreement has been made that the former metropolis will no longer send economic aide to Greenland. Thirty two powers will be devolved while foreign affairs, defence, citizenship and currency policies, as well as the head of the country -the queen Margrethe II of Denmark- will remain as common ground. Greenlandic, an Inuit language, will be the only official language in the island.

Hans Enoksen, upon hearing the results, declared his emotion because the proposal voted for "recognizes the Greenlandic people as a nation." Now the project needs to be rectified by both Parliaments and is due to take place as of June 2009. The recognition of self-determination leaves an open door for independence, the preferred option of the Prime Minister.

The Inuit people
Most of Greenland's inhabitants (a total of 56,000 people) are of Inuit ethnicity, one of the Arctic indigenous peoples. After the referendum's results, Greenland's prime minister will explicitly ask the United Nations to recognize Greenlanders like an indigenous people. Enoksen also announced his intentions to "aid other indigenous peoples to achieve the same as we have done."

Image: Nuuk, Greenland's Capital

Further information: