What started off as what many dismissed as a Trumpian whim has rapidly escalated into an international scandal. In response to Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen blasting his talk of the United States purchasing Greenland from Denmark as “absurd,” President Trump abruptly canceled a two-day state visit to Denmark scheduled for next month. Now, Danish officials are reportedly “furious.”
The controversy over the “buying Greenland” idea started with a report last week by The Wall Street Journal citing two White House advisers who told the paper that Trump has inquired multiple times about the U.S. purchasing the island from Denmark. “In meetings, at dinners and in passing conversations, Mr. Trump has asked advisers whether the U.S. can acquire Greenland, listened with interest when they discuss its abundant resources and geopolitical importance, and, according to two of the people, has asked his White House counsel to look into the idea,” the Journal reported last Thursday. His inquiries, sources said, received mixed responses, some shrugging it off as a “passing fancy,” while others thought it would be a strong strategic move economically.
The report sparked a media firestorm and was quickly met with a rather terse response from Greenland’s autonomous government: “Greenland is not for sale,” a government spokesperson said in a statement reported by CNN.
Trump, however, hasn’t let it go, using the blowup as a chance to issue some trolling tweets, including one featuring a photoshopped image of Greenland’s coast with a giant golden Trump Tower dominating the skyline. “I promise not to do this to Greenland!” Trump joked Monday.
But things turned more serious when Prime Minister Frederiksen ripped Trump’s “absurd discussion” about purchasing the island. Trump responded on Tuesday in a pair of tweets announcing that he was going to reschedule their planned meeting next month for “sometime in the future,” a move that suggests he’s far more serious about the discussion than many suspected.
“Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time,” he wrote. “The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct. I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!”
According to The Washington Post, Trump’s decision has left Danish officials are “furious.” The Post quotes a number of Danish officials ripping Trump as “disrespectful” and a “spoiled child” who “lives on another planet.”
“It’s an insult from a close friend and ally,” Danish Member of Parliament Michael Aastrup Jensen told the Post.
“He said Trump’s interest in purchasing Greenland took the country by surprise and was initially widely considered to be a joke, before Danes realized the full extent of ‘this disaster,'” the Post reports. “Jensen said Danish lawmakers felt misled and ‘appalled’ by the president, who ‘lacks even basic diplomatic skills,’ he said.”
“There was no word [ahead of time] about: ‘I want to buy Greenland and that’s why I’m coming,'” Jensen told the paper.
The Post also cites a tweet by Denmark’s former business minister Rasmus Jarlov. “For no reason Trump assumes that (an autonomous) part of our country is for sale. Then insultingly cancels visit that everybody was preparing for. Please show more respect,” Jarlov wrote.
Frederiksen was more measured in her response, saying her invitation for discussion about a stronger relationship between the two countries still stands and that she hopes Trump’s response to her rejection of the idea would not “change the character of our good relations,” the Post notes.