Controversy surrounding the awarding of a maintenance contract for the Thule Air Base in Greenland has led Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard to call on the United States to suspend the public tender process.
Lidegaard told Finans on Thursday that he has asked the Americans to put a halt to the process. Lidegaard’s decision comes after complaints from both Greenland and Denmark that awarding the contract to an American firm would lead to a costly loss of jobs in Greenland.
The 2.4 billion kroner ($360m) contract was awarded to Exelis Services A/S, a subsidiary owned by the US firm Vectrus. The decision to give the maintenance job to the Americans marked the first time since the 1950s that upkeep and operation of the Thule Air Base was taken out of Greenlandic or Danish control.
Since the 1950s, the Thule contract has given a boost to the Greenlandic economy by providing jobs and valuable work training to residents, something critics fear will disappear with the US firm's takeover.
In 2013, the Danish government was warned that its agreement about control of the base might be in violation of EU law. The government then decided to put the contract up for tender and Exelis was chosen for the seven-year contract, which is supposed to begin in September.
Lidegaard has now put the brakes on the contract after pressure from a political majority within the Danish parliament. The foreign minister told US Ambassador Rufus Gifford that Denmark wants the process suspended until it can be examined further.
Lidegaard told Finans that he “requested that the US Air Force suspend the tender process until a solution can be found between the US, Greenland and Denmark”.
The Foreign Ministry is now awaiting an official response from the Americans.