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TRUMP

Trump baby blimp to fly over Denmark protests

The six-metre-tall Trump baby balloon which grabbed headlines during London protests against the US president is coming to Denmark.

Trump baby blimp to fly over Denmark protests
The Trump blimp generated huge amounts of attention during the US President's visit to London in 2018. Photo: Alkis Konstantinidis / Reuters / Ritzau Scanpix
Digital activist Morten Skovgaard, founder of the Facebook Page “Bring Trump Baby to Denmark!” has struck a deal with US activists to bring a protest balloon to Copenhagen for Trump's September 2 state visit. 
 
“We have confirmation from the US group that the balloon is available, and they are working on the logistical aspects,” Skovgaard told The Local. “I'm not at all worried about the crowdfunding, as I've already been contacted by company owners who are willing to pay the entire cost of bringing the balloon to Denmark.”
 
The balloon, first flown during protests against Trump's UK visit in July last year, has since followed the president on state visits to France and Argentina, and to cities across the US. 
 
The caricature of Donald Trump in a nappy with a smartphone in his hand clearly angers the US president.  
 
“I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London,” he told The Sun newspaper ahead of his 2018 visit. “I used to love London as a city. I haven’t been there in a long time. But when they make you feel unwelcome, why would I stay there?” 
 
Skovgaard told The Local he hoped that the balloon would make it difficult for Trump's media backers to present him as popular in Denmark during his visit. 
 
“It's like a giant, helium-inflated middle finger to Trump,” he said. “Having this big giant yellow blimp, it's pretty difficult for them to ignore it, or edit it out of frame in the way they want to.”
 
“We know for a fact that the US president hates everything that steals attention away from him.” 
 
READ ALSO: 
 
Skovgaard said the response since he launched his Facebook page on Thursday had been “pretty fucking massive”. 
 
“I set up the group on Thursday and today we are at more than 7,000 people, we will probably reach 10,000 in a few days. The other Trump demonstrations are at about 15,000 people so this one definitely stole all the media attention.” 
 
But he said he aimed to support rather than rival other protests, such as a Dump Trump protest and one being organised by the Socialist Left Party. 
 
“This balloon is a pretty great way to rally people behind a banner and give them something to do, to inflate them and give them a lot of attention. I see it as a vehicle for people to get behind,” he said.
 
“In terms of numbers, I have no idea how many people will be protesting in Copenhagen, but this balloon will definitely help get some momentum behind the whole protest organisation. My hope is that this balloon will have more people turn out.” 
 
Morten Skovgaard, who describes himself as a 'digital activist', does social media and photography for the Copenhell festival, amongst other things. Photo: Morten Skovgaard
 
He hit back at criticism that the balloon was a shallow, stupid form of protest. 
 
“Some would say it's childish: 'aren't you stooping to his level?'. But it needs to be because it needs to mirror the president's behaviour in the White House. The Trump administration changed the rules of how you address your political opponents and new measures are required if you want to have an effective voice against them”. 
 
The original balloon was designed by UK graphic artist Matt Bonner, and its manufacture was then crowdfunded by the UK protest group The Baby Sitters. The US protest group, the Baby Trump Adoption Service, then crowdfunded the creation of six balloons, one of which is coming to Denmark. 
 
Skovgaard plans on Monday to speak to Danish police and other authorities about getting permission to fly the balloon. 
 

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GREENLAND

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

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