Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen
I want to take this opportunity to thank the Arctic Circle and its chairman, former president of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, for the great interest that the Greenland report receives in this Assembly.
It is important to widely discuss the opportunities and recommendations in this report, it can only make our future cooperation with our next-door neighbour even stronger.
The report has been received with interest, that was also my hope, however, I must admit that the reception has gone far beyond my expectations.
The report contains detailed assessment of the countries bilateral relations and the status of the region in the new Arctic.
The report finds that Iceland and Greenland have many common interests, including in the fisheries sector, airline services, air traffic control, tourism, search and rescue, and Arctic affairs.
In the coming years, increased co-operation in healthcare, education, and support services for the mining industry, could become important areas of collaboration.
Internationally the countries already co-operate closely, with emphasis on Nordic and West Nordic collaboration and have a good working relationship in the Arctic Council.
In addition to what is recognized in the report, I would like to mention results from the first survey on foreign relations that was done in Greenland, where 90% of Greenlanders support increased cooperation with Iceland over any other country. I am confident that the interest is not less on the part of Icelanders.
In May this year the Parliament of Iceland, Althingi, approved a parliamentary resolution on increased co-operation between Greenland and Iceland. It tasks the government to follow up on the proposals put forward by the Greenland Committee.
Following the report and the parliamentary resolution, in late September, I and my colleague from Greenland, signed a joint declaration on increased co-operation between the two countries.
In the declaration we recognize the role of Greenland and Iceland in connection with climate change in the Arctic, with the Greenland report as a solid foundation for new and further areas of co-operation.
The Joint Declaration is not only a declaration of a greater partnership between the two countries, but also a sign of a deeper bond between the countries in the West Nordic region.
The next step is to initiate a joint feasibility study on bilateral talks on comprehensive Cooperation Arrangements, including free trade, in order to identify areas of deeper cooperation between Greenland and Iceland.
Finally, I would like to emphasize the importance of Greenland and Iceland working closely together on addressing the challenges that climate change brings to the Arctic. We have common interests in this region and both countries a significant role to play.
There are exciting times ahead in the bilateral relations of Iceland and Greenland, with multiple possibilities of cooperation making the bonds between the two countries even stronger.