Greenland and Iceland share many common interests


Greenland and Iceland have enjoyed a strong bond for decades, sharing common interests in culture and business. “We have a very good relationship with Iceland”, said Tove Søvndahl Gant, the Greenland Head of Representation to Iceland. “We have a lot in common, including our geographical placement, high in the North Atlantic. As we are both Arctic nations, we also have a role in Nordic Cooperation and there are many platforms that we can work on together.”

Tove Søvndahl Gant, the Greenland Head of
Representation to Iceland. Photograph: Páll Stefánsson

Mutual business interests

The two nations have good cooperation when it comes to their respective fisheries and quotas they share, as well as managing their f isheries sustainably. “That is a value we share”, said Tove, adding that there are many opportunities where the two countries can further work together. On 23rd September, 2021, a joint declaration was signed by Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Iceland’s Ministerof Foreign Affairs and International Development Cooperation, and Pele Broberg*, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Industry, Trade and Climate Affairs in Greenland. “This report, ‘Cooperation between Greenland and Iceland in the New Arctic’ and its many recommendations are telling us that we can enhance our cooperation even further”, said Tove.

Indeed, the declaration emphasizes the role of Greenland and Iceland in connection with climate change in the Arctic and the report lays a solid foundation for identifying new and further areas of cooperation. The increase in trade of goods and services between Greenland and Iceland in recent years, as well as the resumption of direct flights between the two nations is cited. Increased collaboration in the field of fisheries and a willingness to further strengthen cooperation between the countries in this field is also important.

Photo by Peter Lindstrom – Visit Greenland

Resumption of flights

Iceland and Greenland have had great cooperation within the tourism sector, but the pandemic has put things on hold. “A lot of things have stopped during the Covid pandemic”, said Tove. “Airlines servicing the east coast of Greenland have been very important for us. There were direct flights in the summer and we hope that resumes”, she said. Flights and freight carriers help move goods between Europe, Iceland and Greenland, which is key to the nations’ cooperation. Cultural initiatives had to be put on hold as well. “This morning I had a visit from an organization that holds chess tournaments and they are hoping to resume activities”, said Tove. “Also there is a swimming programme that brings children from Greenland to train in swimming. These are the type of activities that are important because these are people that need each other— athletes, artists, filmmakers, choirs, musicians. The cultural bonds between the Icelandic and Greenlandic people are strong.”

The Arctic Circle Assembly

The Arctic Circle Assembly is a very important forum for Greenland, as the nation doesn’t always have its own voice. “Because the Arctic Circle Assembly brings together government, researchers, business leaders, and scientists, it’s a forum where we can engage with many with our own voice”, said Tove. “It enables us to speak about many issues, climate issues included.”

Iceland is very supportive and respectful of the fact that Greenland is not an independent state. “On one hand, Iceland is supportive of our independent voice, but they recognize that Greenland is part of the Danish kingdom and they don’t overstep the rules of diplomacy”, said Tove. -JG

*Please note that Greenland´s Foreign Affairs portfolio now rests with the Prime Minister of Greenland, Mr Muté B. Egede, after reorganisation.