Are the Nordic leaders trolling Trump with this photo?

A publicity shot of the prime ministers of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland has an uncanny resemblance to a shot of Donald Trump posing with the Saudi and Egyptian leaders.

Are the Nordic leaders trolling Trump with this photo?
L-R: Nordic prime ministers Stefan Löfven, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Erna Solberg, Juha Sipilä and Bjarni Benediktsson holding the sustainability ball. Photo: Marit Hommedal/NTB scanpix

After meeting Monday in Bergen to discuss UN targets for environmental sustainability, Sweden’s Stefan Löfven, Denmark’s Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Norwegian PM Erna Solberg, Finland’s Juha Sipilä and Bjarni Benediktsson of Iceland were pictured holding a football with UN goals for sustainability printed on it.

The picture is uncannily similar to a photo of Trump with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Egyptian president Abdel Fatteh Al-Sisi taken during the former’s recent foreign trip.

In the Trump photo, the three leaders are shown holding a glowing globe in a darkened room filled with people.

That photo went viral, with comparisons made on social media to various scenes from science fiction and animated films.

Now it seems as if the Nordic leaders have joined in the fun.

“When the Nordic prime ministers are openly mocking President Trump and the Saudis,” wrote Norwegian journalist Steffen Stø as he posted the Nordic photo on Twitter.

The office of Swedish PM Löfven denied that Monday’s photo opportunity was an opportunity for a PR jab at Trump.

“There are symbols on the football that symbolise the UN’s sustainability goals and the prime minister initiative that the Nordic Council of Ministers is working with… This is not a hint at President Trump. It is nothing to do with that,” Löfven’s press secretary Ingela Nilsson told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

But Norwegian PM Solberg posted the two images one above the other on her own Facebook and Twitter pages, while tagging her Nordic opposite numbers in the posts.

“Who rules the world? Riyadh vs. Bergen. Don’t know what they were thinking on the top photo. On the bottom photo are five Nordic prime ministers holding a ball with sustainability goals. We hope they will guide the way to the future,” she wrote.

Solberg’s press secretary Sigbjørn Aanes told Norwegian media TV2 that the photo was planned prior to Trump being pictured with a glowing globe in Riyadh.

“This was planned long before the Trump picture and we had this ball, which will also be used in the Norway Cup, with us at the meeting with the other leaders and used it for promotional purposes,” he said.

It is not the first time Scandinavian politicians have appeared to mock the US president through photo opportunities.

In February, Swedish Deputy Prime Minister and Climate Minister Isabella Lövin appeared to take a swipe at US President Donald Trump by posting an image of her and female colleagues signing a proposal for Sweden's new climate law, parodying the viral image of Trump signing off on an anti-abortion executive order while surrounded by men. 

READ ALSO: Fox News 'Swedish national security advisor' has no links to authorities


How Pompeo’s visit signalled ‘radical’ change in Denmark’s position on China

Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs Jeppe Kofod made a clear effort to place Denmark as a close ally of the United States after meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday.

How Pompeo’s visit signalled 'radical' change in Denmark’s position on China
Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod (L) greets US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Copenhagen. Photo: Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix

Interests in the Arctic region, notably in relation to China, topped the agenda when Pompeo visited Denmark on Wednesday.

“I am pleased to see the United States' increased financial obligations [in Greenland, ed.] in the form of the reopening of the US Consulate in Nuuk and funds for projects,” Kofod said at a briefing following the meeting.

But the Danish foreign minister’s comments were particularly notable in relation to China, according to an analyst.

Stressing the close alliance between Denmark and the United States, Kofod said the two countries “are rulemakers, not rulebreakers”.

That may reflect a more critical position closely aligned with US interests.

“The government has, in recent months, moved towards a radical change to Denmark’s China policies, which has up to now focused mostly on economy and less on human rights,” Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen, a professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Faculty of Social Sciences, told Ritzau.

Kofod’s comments at a briefing following the meeting with Pompeo signalled that change in ideology, according to the professor.

“The foreign minister was very offensive in expressing shared values with the Americans. He said that both countries are ‘rulemakers’. I’ve not heard that used in that way before,” Rasmussen said.


“It sounds like an adoption of the American notion that Western ideas will continue to dominate internationally,” he explained.

This means that “other countries like China are not to show up and push their ideals on to the WHO and other international organisations,” the professor said.

In Copenhagen following a visit to the UK where he called on the “entire world” to stand up to China, Pompeo urged “free nations” to “enshrine shared values like freedom, transparency, sovereignty and sustainability in the Arctic region”.

“This mission is all the more urgent as we face new competition in the region from countries that don't always play by those rules, if at all,” Pompeo said at the joint news conference with Kofod.

He also criticised, as he has in the past, China designating itself a near-Arctic nation.

In 2018 China unveiled a vision for a “Polar Silk Road,” and in the same year a state-owned constructions company entered a bid to renovate airports in Greenland, an Arctic territory covering over two million square kilometres.

“I think we've all been a little bit naive to watch not only the Russians but the Chinese interests there competing to become more and more aggressive,” Pompeo said.

“We better make sure that we respond in a way that increases prosperity and security for the United States and for the people of Denmark,” he added.


Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory, eventually chose to work with Copenhagen, with media reports citing fears that Chinese investments could upset Washington as one reason for that decision.

Pompeo, after first meeting with Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, held talks with Kofod, joined by foreign affairs representatives for Greenland and the Faroe Islands, both Danish autonomous territories.

Kofod US has previously called the US Denmark’s “absolutely closest ally”. The Scandinavian country has contributed troops to Nato missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

Relations between the two hit some turbulence in August 2019 when Trump floated the idea of the US buying the autonomous Arctic territory. When Frederiksen dismissed the proposal as “absurd”, Trump reacted by cancelling a planned visit to Copenhagen.

Kofod, in his comments, closed down any speculation that the proposal could return to the agenda.

“That discussion was dealt with last year, it was not on the table in our discussion,” he told reporters.

Only two media organisations – Fox News and Denmark’s TV2 – were permitted to ask questions at Wednesday’s briefing.

READ ALSO: Pompeo visits Denmark one year on from Greenland farce