Greenland has made it clear: it’s not for sale.
Following reports that U.S. President Donald Trump was eyeing the purchase of Greenland, the autonomous Danish territory lost little time in responding.
Greenland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted on Twitter early Friday morning: “#Greenland is rich in valuable resources such as minerals, the purest water and ice, fish stocks, seafood, renewable energy and is a new frontier for adventure tourism. We’re open for business, not for sale.”
The post included a link to Greenland’s tourism website. Foreign Minister Ane Lone Bagger also told Reuters the same: “We are open for business, but we’re not for sale.”
The idea of the U.S. buying Greenland prompted at least one Republican congressman to tweet his approval, saying: “This should absolutely be on the table.”
“This idea isn’t as crazy as the headline makes it seem,” tweeted U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher. “This a smart geopolitical move. The United States has a compelling strategic interest in Greenland, and this should absolutely be on the table.”
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang used the occasion to call for attention to Puerto Rico — a U.S. island territory still trying to recover from 2017’s Hurricane Maria, which left thousands dead and caused $100 billion in damage.
“Before we buy Greenland we should take care of Puerto Rico,” Yang wrote.
A former U.S. ambassador to Denmark and Greenland reacted to the news in a tweet, calling it “a complete and total catastrophe.”
“Oh dear lord. As someone who loves Greenland, has been there 9 times to every corner and loves the people, this is a complete and total catastrophe,” wrote Rufus Gifford.
“I was Ambassador to Denmark which means I was Ambassador to Greenland. It is remarkably pristine and complex,” Gifford wrote in subsequent tweets.
Greenland is a “place unlike any other corner of the planet,” he wrote.
“It simply must be handled with immense care and the best intentions for the people there and the global climate,” Gifford wrote. “If anyone believes Trump has either in mind, please reconsider your reality.”
Former Danish prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen also tweeted his disbelief at the prospect of Trump considering a Greenland purchase.
“It must be an April Fool’s Day joke,” he wrote.
Trump is due to visit Copenhagen in September, and the Arctic will be on the agenda during meetings with the prime ministers of Denmark and Greenland.
Talk of a Greenland purchase was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters that the notion had been laughed off by some advisers as a joke but was taken more seriously by others in the White House.
Other Danish politicians also poured scorn on the idea.
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“If he is truly contemplating this, then this is final proof that he has gone mad,” Soren Espersen, foreign affairs spokesman for the Danish People’s Party, told broadcaster DR.
“The thought of Denmark selling 50,000 citizens to the United States is completely ridiculous,” he said.
Greenland, a self-ruling part of Denmark located between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans, is dependent on Danish economic support. It handles its own domestic affairs while Copenhagen looks after defence and foreign policy.
“I am sure a majority in Greenland believes it is better to have a relation to Denmark than the United States in the long term,” Aaja Chemnitz Larsen, Danish MP from Greenland‘s second-largest party Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA), told Reuters.
“My immediate thought is ‘no, thank you,'” she said.
Larsen also scoffed at the idea in a tweet.
“No thanks to Trump buying Greenland! On the contrary, a better and more equal partnership with Denmark should be the way forward for a stronger and longer-term free Greenland,” she posted on Twitter on Friday.
Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod were not available for comment, but officials said they would respond later on Friday. The U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen was also not immediately available for comment.
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Greenland is gaining attention from global superpowers, including China, Russia and the United States, due to its strategic location and its mineral resources.
In May, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Russia was behaving aggressively in the Arctic and China’s actions there had to be watched closely as well.
A defence treaty between Denmark and the United States dating back to 1951 gives the U.S. military rights over the Thule Air Base in northern Greenland.
There has been no indication that a Greenland purchase will be on the agenda for Trump’s talks with Danish officials.
Martin Lidegaard, senior lawmaker of the Danish Social Liberal Party and a former foreign minister, called the idea “a grotesque proposal” that had no basis in reality.
“We are talking about real people, and you can’t just sell Greenland like an old colonial power,” he told Reuters.
“But what we can take seriously is that the U.S. stakes and interest in the Arctic is significantly on the rise, and they want a much bigger influence.”
In 1917, Denmark sold off the then-Danish West Indies islands for $25 million to the United States, which renamed them the United States Virgin Islands.
The White House hasn’t commented on the reports, but it wouldn’t be the first time an American leader tried to buy the world’s largest island.
In 1946, the U.S. proposed to pay Denmark $100 million to buy Greenland after flirting with the idea of swapping land in Alaska for strategic parts of the Arctic island.
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On Friday, residents in tiny Kulusuk on Greenland’s eastern coast seemed less than impressed with the possibility Trump may want to purchase their nation.
They included Jakob Ipsen, who has something in common with the U.S. president: Both run hotels. Ipsen’s hotel is smaller than a Trump one and provides hands-on service, such as finding boats and driving guests around.
Ipsen noted there’s a history of outsiders unsuccessfully wanting to take over the giant, mostly barren island.
“Never going to happen. They tried in 1867 without luck. They tried after World War II,” Ipsen said. “It didn’t happen then and it’s not going to happen now.”
— With files from Reuters, Associated Press, and