The US State Department is now hiring for a Greenland consulate

Though still awaiting permission from Copenhagen, the U.S. has begun the hiring process for what would be its second go at having diplomatic representation in Greenland

By Kevin McGwin - November 4, 2019
Traffic makes its way up a hill on one of the main throughways in Nuuk, Greenland, in a March 13, 2016 file photo (Kevin McGwin)

The American embassy in Copenhagen has begun its search for the first of the local hires that will staff what is expected to be a seven-person consulate in Nuuk, Greenland, that is due to open next year.

A job announcement for the position indicate that the individual hired for the “Greenland Specialist, American Embassy, Nuuk” will need to speak Kalaallisut (Greenlandic), Danish and English and will be responsible for gathering information for U.S. decision-makers as Washington seeks to expand commercial and diplomatic connections with the country that President Donald Trump earlier this year suggested purchasing from Copenhagen.

During remarks in May announcing Washington’s interest in re-establishing a diplomatic presence in Greenland, Carla Sands, the U.S. ambassador in Copenhagen, said the local hire’s role would be to “link [the embassy] directly with communities throughout Greenland”.

Should Copenhagen grant permission to open a consulate, it would be the second time Washington established a diplomatic presence in Greenland. The first US consulate was in operation from 1940, when Nazi Germany occupied Denmark, until 1953, two years after Washington and Copenhagen concluded a defense agreement that gave the US military unfettered access to operate in Greenland.

Thirteen countries have honorary consuls representing them in Greenland, but only Iceland, which operates two consulates there, has a diplomatic presence. A renewed U.S. presence has been proposed a number of times during the years, but it was not until this spring that the U.S. began taking strides to re-establish a permanent presence there.

[Greenland’s first representative in Iceland is a man for all reasons]

Washington’s interest in doing so was announced on May 9 by Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, during a meeting of cabinet-level representatives of Arctic states. The move comes at a time when the U.S. is looking to gain more influence in the Arctic as fears of Russian militarization in the region grab hold in Washington. Concern about Beijing’s growing role in the Arctic has also led American officials, in at least two instances, to lean on Denmark to put the kibosh on Chinese investment in Greenland.

While Pompeo’s announcement in May included few details, shortly after his announcement, Sands formally announced that Sung Choi, a first secretary at the embassy in Copenhagen, was being assigned to Nuuk on a part-time basis. At the same time, Sands announced the embassy’s intention to begin hiring local hires.