Arctic Yearbook 2014
foreign powers and how should it balance its Arctic engagement against other foreign policy
goals? Denmark’s relationship to the other Arctic nations is analyzed in the next section.
Second, the strategies and the academic texts do not debate how Copenhagen can retain
Greenland within the Commonwealth of Denmark. Instead, they either assume that Greenland
is a natural part of Denmark or they bracket the discussion as a choice to be made by the
Greenlandic government and people. However, one can argue that Denmark has an interest in
keeping Greenland within the Commonwealth. Given that Denmark actually benefits from the
current arrangement – as, arguably, does Greenland – it would seem natural to discuss how this
arrangement can be preserved. How can policymakers curb Greenlandic nationalism? How can it
be avoided that foreign powers interfere in Greenlandic politics? This debate is rarely taken in
public and it is notably absent from the Danish Arctic Strategy.
To be sure, these omissions are not irrational mistakes. Instead, they reflect a highly developed
political sensitivity to the contentious issues that characterize the relationship between Denmark
and Greenland and the Arctic region at large. Discussing such issues out in the open would not
only be bad form, especially when one takes the contentious relationship between Copenhagen
and Nuuk into consideration, it would also reveal Denmark’s preferences and thus be a poor
bargaining strategy. One cannot conclude that these considerations are not being made behind
Denmark’s strategic thinking about the Arctic has thus matured over the past ten years. It has
gone from tacit and informal debate within the halls of government to formal, written strategies.
The strategies focus on regional cooperation and handling the commercial opportunities that
follow from climate change, while omitting certain politically sensitive issues and debates.
Relationship to Other Nations
Denmark’s approach to the other nations in the High North is shaped by a general wish to
further Arctic cooperation, mixed with a need to stand for the preservation of what is considered
the natural claims and the sovereignty of the C