By Baron Henri Estramant
Denmark’s Foreign Minister, Martin Lidegaard, has officially lodged a substantiated claim at the United Nations in New York on 15 December 2014 to ca. 900,000 km of the North Pole; extending beyond the coasts of Greenland, an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark.
The North European kingdom has spent 12 years, and $55 millions in gathering data justifying its territorial claim. The latter largely lies on the 1,800 km-long Lomonosov Ridge (a strip that extends from off the coast of Canada and Denmark to the waters above eastern Siberia) being connected to Greenland.
All countries’ borders currently end 200 nautical miles from their coasts in the Arctic, leaving a vast patch of land as Nobody’s Land. Denmark is following Norway, Russia and Canada in submitting a claim under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to a portion of the Arctic, which allows it under a period of ten years after the convention’s ratification.
The rationale behind the claims are the enormous, untapped oil, gas and minerals believed to lie under the Arctic. According to US estimations up to 30 per cent of the world’s undiscovered gas, and 13 per cent of its crude oil may lie in the Arctic region.
Technically Denmark can only profit from the natural resources accorded to Greenland if the latter remains a constituent entity within the kingdom. A new status since 2009 granted Greenland much more autonomy, and fueled the desire to become independent from Denmark should it become economically self-sufficient through oil and gas revenues.
Greenland’s foreign policy is still handled by Denmark proper yet Greenland has an representative office in Brussels working with EU trade and relations. A few week ago it opened a similar office in Washington D.C. seeking closer ties to the USA to Denmark’s detriment.
According to common legend, Denmark already missed out enormously on oil revenue from the North Pole after Foreign Minister Per Hækkerup agreed to give Norway the oil-rich Ekofisk area in the North Sea in the 1960s. The apocryphal story even claims that Per Hækkerup was drunk when he inked the covenant.
The Kingdom of Denmark is Europe’s oldest monarchy. Its current Sovereign is Queen Margrethe II since 1972.