Greenland's Referendum on Home Rule
Greenland, the world's largest island, is about 81% ice-capped. The Vikings originally reached the island in the 10th century from Iceland; Danish colonization began in the 18th century, and Greenland was made an integral part of Denmark in 1953. It joined the European Community (now the EU) with Denmark in 1973, but withdrew in 1985 over a dispute centered on stringent fishing quotas. Greenland was granted self-government in 1979 by the Danish parliament; the law went into effect the following year. Denmark continues to exercise control of Greenland's foreign affairs in consultation with Greenland's Home Rule Government.
A referendum on Greenland's autonomy was held on 25 November 2008. It was passed with 75% approval (63% in Nuuk) and a 72% turnout. The referendum was announced by Prime Minister Hans Enoksen on 2 January 2008. On 7 January 2008, following criticism from the Democrats, Enoksen clarified that the referendum would not entail a withdrawal from the Danish state ("det danske rige"). He further announced the launch of an information and discussion campaign on the issue of self-government. This included town hall meetings throughout the country.
Although the referendum is non-binding, the Danish parliament has promised to honor the results, and indeed has supported the measure, which will expand home rule in 30 areas, including police, courts, and the coast guard. The Danish parliament would also give Greenland a say in foreign policy and a more definite split of future oil revenue. Greenlandic becomes the sole official language. However, it intends that subsidies from Copenhagen would also be phased out. Denmark currently gives Greenland a subsidy of 3.5 billion kroner (US$600 million), which accounts for about two-thirds of the island's economy.
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The referendum result will be enacted on 21 June 2009, the 30-year anniversary of the establishment of home rule.
LastUpdate: 2018-05-06 19:48:41