Greenland votes for more autonomy

World's largest island votes for greater control over its affairs from Denmark.

    A vote in favour of increased autonomy from Denmark had been expected by analysts [AFP]

    Although the referendum is non-binding, Denmark has promised to honour the result.

    The changes outlined in the plan will take effect on June 21, 2009, exactly 30 years after Greenland was granted semi-autonomy from Copenhagen.

    Self-rule supported

    Greenland, which is home to the United State's Thule radar base, will be consulted on foreign and defence policy when the changes take effect, although it will not have the final say.

    Opinion polls prior to the referendum had suggested that most of Greenland's 57,000-strong population would vote in favour of the plan for increased autonomy.

    The plan between Greenland and Denmark also proposes that the island be given rights over its natural resources, which experts say include large oil and gas reserves and mineral deposits.

    The vote comes as Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States are all staking claims to territory in the Arctic Ocean.

    The Danish-Greenlandic commission proposed that "the revenues from activities related to raw materials be distributed to Greenland", in exchange for a drop in subsidies from Copenhagen.

    In 2007, the territory received subsidies of 3.2bn kroner ($540m) from Denmark, about 30 per cent of its gross domestic product.

    "Self-rule will bring with it only good things for Greenland," Lars-Emil Johansen, who was prime minister of the island from 1991 to 1997, said.

    As part of the proposals between Greenland and Denmark, Greenlanders will be recognised as a distinct people in line with international law, while Greenlandic will be recognised as the official language of the territory.

    Most of the parties in the local parliament were in favour of self-rule but an opposition movement had opposed it, saying that Greenland still needs considerable support from Denmark.

    "With such a tiny population it is impossible to provide the human contributions needed to turn Greenland into a modern and independent state," Finn Lyng, a member of the local Democrats, said.

    With its 2.1-million square km surface, 80 per cent of which is covered by ice, Greenland is the world's largest island.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.

    Pakistan's tribal areas: 'Neither faith nor union found'

    Pakistan's tribal areas: 'Neither faith nor union found'

    Residents of long-neglected northwestern tribal belt say incorporation into Pakistan has left them in a vacuum.