Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 237

237 Arctic Yearbook 2014 Understood in the context of Greenland’s small population, in a country of only 56,000 ‘everyone knows what everyone else is up to.’ On the one hand this attribute suggests inherent societal transparency, however, cultural norms deter criticism. Greenlandic culture is imbued with a deep respect for authority thereby citizens lack the tradition of holding public officials accountable for their actions, although there is now a growing desire for openness and transparency. Fear of retribution, however, limits the extent of public engagement. For example, in the private sector many business owners are either recipients of government funding or rely on government as their primary customer and thus fear that criticism of authorities will jeopardize their economic interests. As another example, media is cited as less than objective. Until recently, all three media outlets – AG, Sermitsiaq and KNR – “were to a great extent subject to unilateral political control.” Although government exerts less direct control, KNR (Greenland radio) is still reliant on public funding. It is too soon to judge how media will respond to its new found independence, however, the study notes that media is often seen as less than objective. Journalists are cited for neglecting to conduct proper follow up and for a reluctance to be critical of public officials and institutions. Those who were critical of public officials reported that future requests for interviews were denied. An independent media foundation is recommended to deal with these issues (Nordic 2012: 11-16). Dissemination of and access to information in Greenland has far-reaching implications. For journalists and the ombudsman alike the process of attaining public documents is often delayed, sometimes denied or the request simply ignored. Although the legislation on transparency is fairly robust, in practice it is not always forthcoming. In some cases information is gained through the ‘back door.’ (Nordic 2012: 31-32). BMP has come under considerable scrutiny for its “general culture of secrecy.” A glaring example of secrecy occurred in 2011 when the Ministry refused to publish the oil spill contingency plan for a Cairn Energy project. The Ministry was later compelled to publish the plan as a result of public pressure. While framework agreements with oil and mineral companies are publically available