Greenland’s top government official has shown support for South Korea in its bid to become the newest member-state in the Arctic Council.
Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist’s comments came on Thursday (13 December) in an interview with the Yonhap South Korean news agency, in which he said that Greenland has a “very positive view” of Korea’s approach to membership.
However, Kleist cautioned that Korea and other potential members must abide by the group’s current policies: “Yes, Greenland supports South Korea’s bid to join the Arctic Council in principle. But, there are some principles that we need to uphold, the principles to take part in the Arctic Council.”
The interview came amid a five-day visit to the Asian country to discuss economic cooperation as ice melt increasingly exposes natural resources and opens up shipping lanes in the Arctic region. The regulation of such prospects is largely governed by the Arctic Council, an inter-governmental forum which is currently comprised only of states with territory within the Arctic: Greenland, Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the United States, Canada, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
South Korea is currently one of the council’s so-called observer states.
The news comes just months after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak signed several memorandums of understanding with Nuuk earlier in the year, paving the way for Korea-backed science, exploration and resource development efforts in Greenland.