'We'll Be a Bomb Target': Danish NATO Radar Flusters Faroe Islands
Apart from strategic repercussions, hosting a NATO radar may damage the archipelago's crucial trade relations with Moscow. In the words of Faroese MP Bjárni Kárason Petersen, the Faroe Islands risks losing a large part of its exports to Russia, which could crush the islands' economy.
This week, Danish Minister of Defence Trine Bramsen is due to visit the Faroe Islands in the hope of pushing through a decision on a new radar base.
The small, but strategically important archipelago has become the focal point of the security situation in the North Atlantic. NATO member Denmark wants to build a new radar base on the self-governing Faroe Islands, part of the Danish Realm, in order to get a good command of all planes flying over the region and boost its claim to the Arctic.
However, some Faroe politicians are apprehensive. The island nation of 53,000 is heavily dependent on its fish exports, and one its largest customers is Russia. Hosting a NATO radar may damage key trade relations amid tensions between Moscow and the North Atlantic alliance.
However, Faroe Foreign Minister Jenis av Rana argued that the radar is not a military issue.
“The fact that it may be part of NATO's overall military image is possible. But there will be no military in the Faroe Islands”, he said, as quoted by national broadcaster SVT.
The Faroese opposition accused the government of being too pro-Danish, and of not paying enough attention to criticism.
Faroese MP Bjárni Kárason Petersen argued that the archipelago should leave out Denmark and negotiate directly with NATO, based on its own demands.
“If the Faroe Islands gets a radar, then we will become partly a strategic bomb target”, Kárason Petersen argued.
Furthermore, he emphasised the economic repercussions as well.
“We may risk losing a large part of our exports to Russia. It could crush the Faroe Islands' economy,” he assured.
The Faroe Islands is a North Atlantic archipelago located halfway between Norway, Iceland and Scotland, which has remained under Danish rule for centuries.
At present, Denmark still governs the archipelago in areas like defence, police, justice, currency and foreign affairs, whereas the Faroese control most domestic matters.
6 October 2020, 04:55 GMT
Despite being part of the Danish Realm alongside Greenland, the Faroe Islands are not part of the EU or the Schengen area and maintain a trade policy of their own. For instance, when the EU and Russia introduced reciprocal trade sanctions over the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, the Faroe Islands sized this opportunity to significantly boost its fisheries exports to Russia. The Danish liberal-conservative Venstre Party subsequently called to free the Faroe Islands of its “dependence” on Russia.
As of now, the archipelago is heavily dependent on fisheries and whaling, which account for 95 percent of all its exports, and also receives an annual 650 million DKK ($98 million) subsidy from Denmark, very much like Greenland.