Greenland's lawmakers on Friday got their first look at a draft constitution which the autonomous territory could rely on if it comes to negotiating independence from Denmark.

Developed in secrecy over four years, the 49-paragraph document written in Greenlandic was presented by a constitutional commission to the territory's parliament, the Inatsisartut, where it will now be discussed.

The text, still in the draft stage, did not come down firmly on several key issues, local media reported -- including Greenlandic passport access and the administration of justice, areas still managed by mainland Denmark.

It also made no reference to the monarchy, leaving unresolved the question of whether the queen or king of Denmark would remain head of state.

"For the time being (the draft constitution) is primarily a Greenlandic issue. It will only concern Denmark when Greenland has discussed it and depending on what the politicians decide," Ulrik Pram Gad, a researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies and an expert on Danish-Greenlandic relations told AFP.

Greenland has been autonomous since 1979. The world's largest island, located in the Arctic some 2,500 kilometres (1,550 miles) from Denmark, has its own flag, language, culture and institutions, but still relies heavily on a Danish grant which makes up a quarter of its GDP and more than half of its public budget.

Mainland Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland -- with its roughly 55,000 inhabitants -- together form the Kingdom of Denmark.

- Moving towards independence -


Since the 2009 Self-Government Act, only currency, the justice system and foreign and security affairs fall under Denmark's authority.

The Act also included a provision that if Greenland's people take a decision in favour of independence, negotiations are to commence between Nuuk and Copenhagen.

The resulting agreement, reached with the consent of the Danish and Greenlandic parliaments, would then have to be approved via a referendum in Greenland.

"There won't be a revolution tomorrow, but the text will enlighten the debate," Pram Gad said, adding that it still "shows that Greenland wants to move to a new, looser stage" in its relationship with Denmark.

It remains to be seen whether politicians and the public agree with the project and whether Greenland's leaders "will dare to set the ball rolling", he said.

For Social Democrat Aki-Matilda Hoegh-Dam, who holds one of the seats reserved for Greenland in the Danish parliament, the text represents a "step" towards the creation of a sovereign Greenlandic state.

"We will have a more in-depth discussion on exactly how this will happen" covering matters including citizenship and voting rights, she said during a recent press briefing.

When it comes to future relations with Denmark, a potential free association agreement, which has been mulled in the past, is mentioned in an annex to the draft constitution.

"We want to create a common solution that is beneficial for both countries," stressed Hoegh-Dam, who envisions negotiations on the island's sovereignty starting within a decade.

The territory's geostrategic location and massive mineral reserves have raised international interest in recent years, as evidenced by former US president Donald Trump's swiftly rebuffed offer to buy it in 2019.

But even though the idea of buying up Greenland has been abandoned, Washington has sought to gain more influence.