An article published Dec. 13 on Nunatsiaqonline.ca, “We welcome the Trump administration, Greenland leader declares,” quoted Vittus Qujaukitsoq, Greenland’s economic development and foreign affairs minister, as saying that the Inuit Circumpolar Council has “an old-fashioned view of oil and gas development and has failed to deal with Greenland’s interests.”
This section of the story mistakenly conflated Qujaukitsoq’s remarks about ICC with a section of the speech that criticized the Obama administration’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council and accused Obama’s United States chairmanship of “focusing on the policies of the past.”
What Qujaukitsoq meant to say is that the ICC has failed to foster economic exchanges among circumpolar regions. Here is the relevant excerpt from the written version of his speech.
“During the 1970s a political movement of Inuit across North America, led to the creation of today’s Inuit Circumpolar Council. But this political movement, although a powerful force in shaping political developments within Greenland, has failed to develop more economic interaction in our shared region.“
And here is the excerpt of Qujaukitsoq’s written speech in which he accuses the Obama administration of implementing an anti-development, anti-oil and gas agenda during the U.S. chairmanship of the Arctic Council.
“With the current United States’ chairmanship of the Arctic Council, many of us had high hopes that this could somehow change—that the rare attention of Washington policy-makers to the Arctic part of the United States and the potentials of this region, would awaken policy-makers to the huge opportunities that our regions offer in areas that include hydropower, minerals, water resources, oil, gas and our huge resources of fish and wildlife.
“But with the end of the chairmanship approaching, these hopes were perhaps too optimistic. Instead of opening up our regions for development, we have seen a chairmanship focusing perhaps too much on the policies of the past—working to stop oil and gas development in the U.S. Arctic for example.”
In an email, the Greenland government has stated that Qujaukitsoq was not referring to any specific person when he said that the next U.S. Secretary of State should be “an outstanding individual with a comprehensive experience from the private sector” and that he was not necessarily referring to Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson.
We recognize that this is the position of the Greenland government.
However, the only private sector person ever named in Donald Trump’s widely publicized short lists for Secretary of State was Rex Tillerson. All of the other names were those of career politicians, public servants and military leaders. The application of deductive logic leads to only one conclusion: that Qujaukitsoq intended to refer specifically to Rex Tillerson, whose nomination was imminent at the time of Qujaukitsoq’s speech and who was the only private sector person whose name was ever under consideration..
Also, following the speech, Nunatsiaq News asked Greenland’s representative to the United States and Canada to clarify whether Qujaukitsoq intended to refer to Tillerson. The Greenland representative said yes.
For the record, here is what the written version of Qujaukitsoq’s speech has to say about what the Trump administration and Tillerson’s appointment might mean for the Arctic.
“With a new administration taking office in Washington in January 2017, I am actually very optimistic for the near future of our region. The President-elect has made very clear that he wants economic development for America; he wants to focus on what serves the interests of Americans best and he will not pander to special interest groups that want to stop economic development in the North. For the sake of our Arctic region, I sincerely hope that the President-elect will choose as Secretary of State, an outstanding individual with a comprehensive experience from the private sector. This will be of benefit to our region.”
We thank Greenland’s deputy minister of foreign affairs for sharing their position with us and for giving us a copy of the written version of Qujaukitsoq’s speech.