Arctic Greenland sets itself adrift from membership in European Community
Nuuk (Godthaab), Greenland
As of Jan. 1, 1985, the European Community will be reduced to less than half its current territory. The home-rule parliament of Greenland, a giant Arctic island in the North Atlantic, last weekend voted strongly in favor of an agreement that will terminate the country's involuntary membership in the EC.
The agreement, to be ratified March 13 in Brussels, gives duty-free access to the European market for Greenland's vital export of fish in exchange for EC fishing rights in Greenlandic waters.
The EC compensation for the fishing rights will be $23 million annually for the next five years, regardless of whether the fish is actually caught.
The agreement is seen as being extremely favorable to Greenland and its 51, 000 inhabitants, most of whom are of Inuit (Eskimo) origin. As it is the first case of a country leaving the EC in its 27-year history, the vote has been noted with interest by other reluctant EC members.
But the EC's parting with Greenland's 840,000 square miles of glaciers and snow-covered mountains is not seen as setting any immediate precedents. An EC diplomat says, ''Greenland's case is simply too special.''
As an integrated part of Denmark in 1972, Greenland had to submit to the Danish decision to join the EC in spite of a negative island vote of 70.2 percent.
The involuntary membership greatly increased political awareness in Greenland , resulting in 1979 in the introduction of semiautonomy (home rule). Since then, the chief political issue has been the termination of its EC membership.
Relations with Denmark remain strong, and Greenlandic politicians of every shade of political opinion are praising the way in which the Danish government has assisted Greenland in the negotiations with the EC.
EC diplomats say the nation's strategic locationwas an important reason for Greenland getting a relatively good deal.