Arctic News Roundup: 17-23 February

Sunrise over Tromsø [Photo by Marc Lanteigne]
by Mingming Shi

1) Ulrik Pram Gad, an Associate Professor at Aalborg University, Denmark argued that the Danish government needed to consider better ways of including both the Faroe Islands and Greenland in the Kingdom’s foreign policy deliberations, in a commentary published by the Danish news service Altinget.

2) The Russian vessel Arktika, (Арктика), which was to be the first of a new class of nuclear-powered icebreakers for Moscow, is facing operational delays due to technical issues with its propulsion system, according to the Barents Observer.

3) This week, the High North News conducted an interview with Hjalmar Dahl, the head of the Greenland Branch of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), and former Greenland Prime Minister Kuupik V. Kleist, currently an external advisor for the Council’s  Pikialasorsuaq project. The subject was cooperation among Inuit peoples in the Arctic and development of the region over the last four decades since the ICC was established, as well as challenges for the Council’s Greenland wing, such as lower economic budgets. The ICC, founded in 1977, is an organisation, which focuses on Inuit indigenous groups’ rights, as well as matters of communication, cooperation and development in the Arctic, whose representatives consist mainly of peoples from Alaska, Greenland, Canada and the Chukotka region of Russia.

4) On 21 February, organisers of the Sixth International Symposium on Arctic Research (ISAR-6) announced that the conference would be cancelled this year, due to the recent Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak in East Asia. The event had been scheduled to take place during 2-6 March in Tokyo.

5) This week, according to Eye on the Arctic, a Canada-based news service covering the far north, Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, the Foreign Minister of Iceland, met his Estonian counterpart, Urmas Reinsalu, in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. The discussion between the two ministers included Nordic-Baltic cooperation in Arctic affairs. When Estonia confirmed its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991, Iceland was the first country to acknowledge its status. Iceland assumed the chair of the Arctic Council in 2019 from Finland, and Estonia has been preparing an application for next year to be a formal observer in that organisation. Estonia’s expanding Arctic policies were the subject of an article this week in OtC.

6) The 21st of February is International Mother Language Day, which is aimed to enhance awareness of linguistic and cultural protection and diversity. On this occasion, Mimi Karlsen, affiliated with the Greenland political party Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA), published her blueprint to promote Greenlandic language and culture, including language education for Greenlandic writers, and encourage foreign learners to study Greenlandic.