By U.S. Ambassador Carla Sands
Even before I began my tenure as U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Denmark, the Faroe Islands held a special place in my heart. During my youth in Pennsylvania, I babysat a little girl and have stayed in touch with her up to this very day. That young woman went on to marry a Faroese man and they now live in Tórshavn with their four daughters. On my most recent visit to the Faroe Islands in November, I had a chance to catch up with her and her lovely family and reminisce about the past.
I’ve always appreciated the welcoming nature of the Faroese people and the love and respect you show for your customs and your beautiful landscape. Actually there are a lot of cultural similarities among Americans and the Faroese. Religion and self-sufficiency are important to both our peoples. We also do a lot to protect our environments – in the United States through the conservation work of the National Park Service, and in the Faroe Islands through sustainable tourism practices that seek to protect the islands’ and surrounding seas’ unique beauty.
During my three years as Ambassador, I made five trips to the Faroe Islands and got a first-hand understanding of how many shared interests there are between the American and Faroese governments and people. In light of all this potential, it soon became a priority for me and my Embassy team to grow the cooperation between the United States and the Faroe Islands.
I have been proud to represent the American people in growing the ties between the United States and the Faroe Islands. In July 2020, I was the first U.S. Ambassador to visit Klaksvik, traveling there via the undersea tunnel featuring a stunning art installation by renowned Faroese artist Tróndur Patursson. In Klaksvik, I toured a pelagic fishing vessel and saw up close what the fishing and maritime industries mean to the Faroe Islands, and the potential for increased trade and investment with the United States.
There may be no better example of how our businesses can step in to fulfill this potential than your great salmon export company Bakkafrost, which sells approximately 17% of its exports to the U.S. market and, this year, invested in a U.S. company that provides more than 40 American jobs in Clifton, New Jersey. In fact, the Faroese salmon served in many American restaurants is considered a gold
standard for farmed salmon. In turn, the United States would like to see reciprocal trade and more great American products exported to the Faroe Islands.
U.S.-Faroese public-private partnerships are also growing. In 2020, the Faroese company Ocean Rainforest signed a contract with the U.S. government agency Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, which helps develop advanced energy technologies. Together they will invent robust and cost-efficient ways to harvest marine biomass.
The United States and the Faroe Islands are similarly increasing our cooperation on security, which is important for keeping the Arctic prosperous, low-tension, and secure. In 2019, a U.S. Navy vessel made its first visit to the Faroe Islands in over 30 years, and we look forward to more ship visits, which are an important part of military diplomacy with U.S. allies and partners. And we welcome the increasing awareness in the Faroe Islands of the importance of securing critical infrastructure.
I am confident we will build the relationship between the United States and the Faroe Islands even further. The Partnership Declaration our governments signed in November will strengthen our cooperation in areas ranging from marine resource management and environmental protection, to cultural exchanges and sustainable economic development, entrepreneurship, innovation, tourism, and trade. Through this long sought-after Declaration, we will find tangible new ways to increase trade and deepen the relationship between the American and Faroese peoples.
As I prepare to leave the Kingdom of Denmark, one of my lasting memories from my time here is from Summer 2019, when I joined the celebration of Faroese National Day in front of Tinganes with people singing songs and dancing the traditional Faroese chain dance. This unforgettable experience reinforced for me that the ties between the Faroe Islands and the United States are strong because of the thousands of personal connections that Americans and Faroese have built over the years as we have traveled, studied and worked in each other’s lands.
And I can promise you that my personal connection to the Faroe Islands will remain strong long after my Ambassadorial appointment comes to an end.