(The Spoken word applies)
Dear Ministers, Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honour to be your host today and on behalf of our Government I would like to thank you for our friendship and fruitful cooperation during the past year. I look forward to continuing and developing our cooperation with our good friends and neighbours.
Naalakkersuisut has now had a year to lay the foundations for growth and progress in Greenland. Like many other countries, we face major economic challenges, but we have managed to get the wheels rolling.
Construction projects have been launched successfully, and fisheries and natural resources have also shown indications of progress, unemployment figures are declining - and this progress will continue in the new year.
Furthermore, Naalakkersuisut is making substantial investments in modernising Greenland's labour market. We have commenced extensive major reforms to improve opportunities for the unemployed throughout the country.
The fisheries are our main industry, and it will remain to be so for many years still. It is positive that the shrimp quotas can be increased with 50 percent according to biological advise, something which indications show could become the case too for a few other species in the future. When that is said, as a country we have to move away from having to rely on one source of income.
In a country like ours, the infrastructure is still a challenge. Naalakkersuisut has now gained the approval of Inatsisartut (Parliament of Greenland) for a new model for expansion of the airport. This will entail major investments during the next years in order to extend the existing runways and also construct new runways. In time, this will lead to better and less expensive transport opportunities for our people, while also improving conditions for the development of tourism and of commerce and industry in general.
Greenland's natural resources are in an exciting development phase. At a time of low world market prices for natural resources, in Greenland we have succeeded in maintaining interest from abroad. A new ruby mine has been started up and a new anorthosite mine is expected to get under way at the end of the year.
We also expect to receive more applications for the establishing of more mines this year.
Naalakkersuisut's objective in the natural resources area is clear: It must create growth, development and new workplaces, with both direct and indirect revenue for society and the national treasury. Yet development in the natural resources area must be driven by private, and often foreign, investment. In Naalakkersuisut we will therefore continue to give priority to stable and competitive framework conditions for natural resources that make it attractive to invest in Greenland.
The development of natural resources must be sustainable, with the greatest possible respect for our environment and for the benefit of our population. Most of us make a living from nature and in nature. It is therefore naturally important for me to emphasise that all natural resources projects must take place on a responsible and secure basis in terms of the environment, safety, health and economic sustainability.
Last autumn, the conditions for Greenlandic children were in focus in the media here in Denmark and also in Greenland. Children mean a lot to me, and I have therefore decided that 2016 will be the children's year.
Naalakkersuisut has focus on the measures needed to prevent any neglect or sexual abuse of children. We teach children about their rights, provide further training to professional staff, and offer treatment to adults who were subject to sexual assault in their childhood. Our efforts have been noted in other countries, and under the auspices of Nordic cooperation. The good thing about cooperation is that we share experience with each other.
We are all part of the globalised world, so that we are all affected by acts of terrorism, as in Paris in 2015 and almost one year ago in Copenhagen. Acts of violence of this type are attacks on our democracy, and our democratic rights. We therefore express our sympathy and solidarity in relation to France and to Denmark – and sadly enough now also to Turkey. Democracy is our strength, and we must protect it - together.
Greenland cooperates very closely with the EU under our partnership agreement, which we have renewed up to 2020. The partnership agreement includes important areas for both parties. It was therefore to our great mutual satisfaction that we - former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and I – in 2015 in Brussels signed a joint declaration between the EU, Greenland and Denmark concerning the ongoing cooperation. Greenland wishes to maintain a good dialogue with our partners in Europe and in other countries, in order to ensure an understanding of special Arctic conditions, and the living conditions of the indigenous people of the Arctic. This also includes sustainable hunting for marine mammals and seal. It will be exciting to see the details of the EU's new Arctic Strategy in 2016.
In 2015 the Danish presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers was very important to Greenland, in keeping with tradition. In cooperation with Denmark, we held meetings of the ministers in Greenland. Together we have also developed important projects for sustainable development, protection and utilisation of marine resources and the involvement of the knowledge of hunters in scientific work. There are many good examples of how we are good at working together under Nordic auspices, on projects that are important to us all.
The USA's chairmanship of the Arctic Council until 2017 is helping to increase the focus on the Arctic and Arctic issues. It is important to emphasise that the Arctic and the Arctic populations are already significantly affected by the development in the rest of the world. The Arctic regions are thus not impervious to the development elsewhere in the world. On the contrary, we experience climate change and environmental issues that are a consequence of development and consumption elsewhere in the world. However, this does not change the fact that we wish to see development of Greenland that, on a sustainable basis, can ensure our people and commerce and industry a sound foundation for healthy growth.
Good relations with the Kingdom of Denmark, with our neighbours and with countries outside the Arctic region are of importance to Greenland. Cooperation strengthens ties between countries.
Finally, I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year, with the hope that our favourable cooperation will continue.