Speech

The Prime Minister’s speech 21 June 2004 at the gala evening in Nuuk on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Greenland Home Rule

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We see the Greenland flag everywhere today. The rising sun over the polar ice. The rising sun represents light and the return of the heat at midsummer.

The Greenland flag differs from the flags of the other Nordic countries. But the colours are those of the Dannebrog – the Danish flag – red and white – and show the association with Denmark and the North.

Different, but still part of the fellowship, the Unity of the Realm. This is modern Greenland.

25 years ago far-sighted Greenlanders and Danes created the framework for the development of modern Greenland: Home Rule.

With Home Rule the population of Greenland took on responsibility for their own affairs. With Home Rule, the Greenland population gained the opportunity to shape development in Greenland in harmony with Greenland’s wishes and traditions.

And this responsibility has been managed in a way that deserves acknowledgement.
The people of Greenland live under natural conditions that present a daily challenge. The vastness of the country. The relatively small population living in scattered settlements. Climatic conditions that can be extreme at times.

Nevertheless a modern welfare society has been successfully developed. A society that is cohesive and characterised by popular participation and engagement. But above all, a society with a strong national and cultural consciousness has been created.

In the course of a few generations Greenland society has moved from being a sealer and hunter culture to a modern urban society. An enormous readjustment. And it has not been without problems.

But thanks to Home Rule a balance has been found where the modern structure of society goes hand in hand with respect for the values inherent in Arctic culture.

It is not merely natural, but also absolutely necessary that every people seeks to develop its own national, historical and cultural identity.

The greater the consciousness one has of one’s origins, the better capable one is of deciding one’s targets.

A human being should have responsibility for his or her own life. A people should have responsibility for their own destiny and future. This is the only way of creating the self-respect necessary for undertaking large-scale tasks.

25 years ago we started on a process towards increasingly more autonomy for Greenland society. The Home Rule system has served us well for a quarter of a century. So well that we can now take some further steps by modernising Home Rule.

This why it is my great pleasure to inform you that today the Premier and I have signed a document launching the work of a joint Greenland-Danish self-government commission. The commission will be charged with drafting proposals as to how we can expand the self-government of the people of Greenland people - to the greatest degree possible - within the terms of the Constitution and the Unity of the Realm

With this we have initiated a process leading towards increased Greenland self-government.

I am pleased that today we can look both back and forward. Can celebrate the 25 years of Home Rule that have passed, while simultaneously marking the beginning of a joint Greenland-Danish effort towards more self-government for Greenland.

It is up to the Greenland population to take a decision concerning the future of Greenland. But it is clear that increased self-government presupposes the improvement of Greenland’s ability to create its own income base. Less dependence on support.

Denmark will stand by its responsibility and help Greenland during this development towards a more broadly based business sector and new sources of income.

According to the legend of the Sea Woman, ”The mother of the sea”, the exorcist, ”the angakokk”, must clean her hair when the catches from the sea fail so that the sea creatures can again come out of her house.

This is a beautiful legend. But today more is needed to create stable incomes.

I am happy that in society in Greenland today there is a widespread desire to take more responsibility for Greenland’s own economy – and thereby more responsibility for Greenland’s future.

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I would like to finish with a message for the young generation in Greenland.

We are expecting a lot of you. The last few generations before you have changed and developed Greenland from a society of sealers and hunters to an urban society. It is now up to you to carry this development further in way that ensures that the material values of the city go hand in hand with the human values of the settlement.

You are well prepared for the job. You who have grown up under Home Rule regard Home Rule and gradually expanded self-government as a matter of course. You have the singleness of purpose necessary for creating progress. You have the self-reliance necessary for strengthening Greenland culture and identity.

My advice to you is: Make sure to get a good education and use it to benefit Greenland. Education that can contribute to making Greenland more economically self- sufficient.

It is you who will decide the future of Greenland.

It is my belief and my hope that this future will develop within the Unity of the Realm between Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Denmark. There are so many personal, family, historical and cultural bonds between our three peoples that continued community and solidarity in a Unity of the Realm is natural.

But it must be a community of three equal peoples. And it must be a community that continuously develops and adapts in accordance with the needs of modern times.

I look forward to the continued development of Greenland self-government.

On behalf of the Government I would like to congratulate the people of Greenland on the 25th anniversary of Home Rule.