If Denmark gets its wish, Queen Margrethe II may soon have jurisdiction over Santa Claus.
What was once ignored as an autonomous frozen wasteland is now considered prime real estate, and the reason why is simple. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, an estimated 22% of the world’s undiscovered oil and natural gas lies underneath the Arctic seabed.
How can a tiny country wedged between Scandinavia and Europe proper lay claim to Santa’s domain? The answer is Greenland. Having been claimed by Denmark–Norway for centuries, Greenland became a Danish colony in 1814, and a part of the Danish Realm in 1953 under the Constitution of Denmark. However, in 2008, Greenlanders voted in favor of the Self-Government Act, which transferred more power from the Danish royal government to the local Greenlandic government. Under the new structure, in effect since June 21, 2009, Greenland can gradually assume responsibility for autonomy.
Citing scientific data showing Greenland sits atop a continental shelf connected to a ridge beneath the Arctic Circle, Copenhagen claims the existence of a direct land link to the North means that the Norway can lay claim to the area.
Not to be outmaneuvered, Moscow also recently released scientific research showing that the Russian continental shelf also extends further below the pole. Russia’s natural resources minister said Moscow would seek to expand its Arctic borders by 1.2 million square kilometers through the United Nations.
Denmark and Russia are not alone, however. The United States, Canada, and Norway have also laid claim to all or part of the Arctic region.
If Denmark hopes to gain control of the Arctic, they will have to act fast. Russia has already embarked upon a rapid militarization of its Arctic coast. With current and future plans to expand cold-water ports, airfields, and numerous air-defense radar stations, Moscow seems intent to exert its own style of control over at least some of the disputed area. Any final territorial agreement will likely take years and will include significant negotiations.
Finally, Santa may actually hold the best legal rights to the area in question. Citing upcoming “operational requirements” associated with Christmas, the North Pole said Mr. Claus would not be available for comment, although his chief press elf said Santa is watching closely, and that he expects all parties to “play together nicely.”
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