TORSHAVN: A picture of the Faroese painter Edward Fuglø hangs in the Tjóðveldi Republican Party’s premises in the Parliament (Lagtinget). The image depicts the Faroe Islands with a Danish flag hovering over the mountain peaks.
“The picture points out that we Faroese see everything through Danish glasses,” says Høgni Hoydal, leader of Tjóðveldi.
“It's currently only the money that actually connects us to Denmark. Nonetheless, the Faroese are looking increasingly less through Danish glasses. Today, the only common policies with Denmark are foreign and defence, this is in addition to the Islands receiving about DKK 600 million (approximately USD 99.8 million) in direct annual support from its former colonial masters.
Hoydal also wants to cut ties with Denmark, however, and secession could be easier with oil.
“It's currently only the money that actually connects us to Denmark. All Faroese agree that we should have our own schools and own language. The cultural battle is over. It’s the Danish money that is the obstacle to independence.”
“There’s no doubt that the economic argument against independence ceases to apply if Statoil discovers oil. On the other hand, we don’t want to mix the independence issue together with oil,” he says, stating that the Faroese cannot wait until they are rich before becoming independent.
According to Hoydal, financial transfers from Denmark constitute 4.6 percent of the GDP and 10-12 percent of the public budget; a share that has declined steadily in recent years.
The Faroese that Aftenbladet meets confirm this picture. Many believe it is safe for a small country like the Faroe Islands to have a relationship with Denmark, but many also point out that this argument is weakened if Statoil finds oil.
A milestone in the Faroese oil story is that the Faroe Islands got ownership rights to its own seabed in 1992. This is in contrast to the neighbouring Shetland Isles, which Hoydal cites as a horrific story.
“It’s the UK which symbolises the oil business. The Shetland Isles are only allowed to manage a small part of the oil revenues, which are not invested in anything sustainable,” claims Hoydal. Front page — click here!