Greenland foreign minister axed over independence remarks

Greenland's pro-independence minister Pele Broberg (far R) with Prime Minister Mute Egede (2nd R), Danish foreign minister Jeppe Kofod and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (2nd R) at a press briefing in Greenland in May 2021. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Rye Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix
Greenland's pro-independence foreign minister Pele Broberg was demoted on Monday after saying that only Inuits should vote in a referendum on whether the Arctic territory should break away from Denmark.

Prime Minister Mute Egede, who favours autonomy but not independence, said the ruling coalition had agreed to a reshuffle after a controversial interview by the minister of the autonomous Arctic territory.

Broberg was named business and trade minister and Egede will take on the foreign affairs portfolio.

The prime minister, who took power in April after a snap election, underscored that “all citizens in Greenland have equal rights” in a swipe at Broberg.

Broberg in an interview to Danish newspaper Berlingske said he wanted to reserve voting in any future referendum on independence to Inuits, who comprise more than 90 percent of Greenland’s 56,000 habitants.

“The idea is not to allow those who colonised the country to decide whether they can remain or not,” he had said.

In the same interview he said he was opposed to the term the “Community of the Kingdom” which officially designates Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, saying his country had “little to do” with Denmark.

Greenland was a Danish colony until 1953 and became a semi-autonomous territory in 1979.

The Arctic territory is still very dependent on Copenhagen’s subsidies of around 526 million euros ($638 million), accounting for about a third of its budget.

But its geostrategic location and massive mineral reserves have raised international interest in recent years, as evidenced by former US president Donald Trump’s swiftly rebuffed offer to buy it in 2019.

READ ALSO: US no longer wants to buy Greenland, Secretary of State confirms

Though Mute Egede won the election in April by campaigning against a controversial uranium mining project, Greenland plans to expand its economy by developing its fishing, mining and tourism sectors, as well as agriculture in the southern part of the island which is ice-free year-round.

READ ALSO: Danish, Swiss researchers discover world’s ‘northernmost’ island

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