According to the Danish party Venstre, the Faroe Islands should be freed from “dependence on Russia” by concluding a free trade agreement with the EU on, among other things, the export of salmon which makes up about 50 percent of the archipelago’s total exports.
The Danish liberal-conservative party Venstre and the ruling Faroese Unionist Party have argued that the Faroe Islands are being increasingly squeezed in terms of security policy. To solidify the tiny archipelago’s stance, they propose setting up a radar under the auspices of NATO and a free trade zone with the EU.
The two parties named Russia and China as the main threats to the archipelago.
“In recent years, we have seen an escalation of Russian flights in the North Atlantic. The Russian flights test NATO’s preparedness and have repeatedly violated the airspace of the Commonwealth. Therefore, we have to react to the increased volume of Russian flights and make sure that we have the right opportunities to monitor the airspace”, Liberal Party foreign policy spokesman Michael Aastrup Jensen told the newspaper Berlingske.
According to him, the radar, which will function under NATO’s auspices and will “plug” possible holes in the archipelago’s airspace, won’t stand alone.
Therefore, Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod of the ruling Social Democrats has been urged to speed up the work on a free trade agreement with the EU – the idea being to avoid Russia, a chief importer, hitting the Faroe Islands with a trade boycott in times of crisis. The Faroe Islands maintain a large fish export to Russia and are dependent on this market because they cannot sell their fish in EU markets.
In 2013, the EU went so far as to boycott the Faroese fish, among other things, due to disagreements over quotas. The boycott has since been replaced by an old trade agreement taxing Faroese goods, which the two parties propose to replace with a free trade zone.
“Now we are at a crossroads where Faroese exports to Russia could become a vulnerable area and a point of pressure. Therefore, the decision on the radar cannot stand alone, but must be followed up with increased pressure on the EU for a free trade agreement between the Faroe Islands and the EU”, Michael Aastrup Jensen said.
According to Berlingske, this measure will also safeguard against China, following allegations that it tried to pressure the Faroese government into buying Chinese 5G equipment unless they want to lose their salmon exports to China.
Advances from the US
At the same time, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, both remote parts of the Danish Realm, are garnering increased attention from the US, which seeks increased trade and cooperation of its own. Last year, President Donald Trump even aired a shocking proposal of purchasing Greenland from Denmark for strategic reasons, while saving Copenhagen a great expense (a possible hint at the annual subsidy of $510 million, on which Greenland is heavily dependent). This year, the first US representation in Greenland since 1953 is scheduled to open to promote direct cooperation with the world’s largest island. These steps have riled up many Danish politicians who see it as undue and unacceptable interference.
The Faroe Islands are a North Atlantic archipelago located northwest of Scotland, and about halfway between Norway and Iceland. It is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark alongside Greenland and has a population of over 50,000 inhabitants.
The archipelago suffered great economic difficulties following the collapse of the fishing industry in the early 1990s, and have since been trying to diversify the economy. In the recent years, support for independence has grown. As of today, five Faroese parties across the spectrum are in favour of independence from Denmark.