Opinion: Denmark should cancel Trump’s state visit

US president Donald Trump thinks he can show up in Denmark, offer to buy Greenland and treat two Nordic nations with arrogant disregard.

Opinion: Denmark should cancel Trump’s state visit
Why would Denmark want to welcome Donald Trump after his show of ignorance over Greenland? Photo: Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Ritzau Scanpix

The divisive American leader confirmed on Sunday last week's reports that he is interested in buying Greenland, a nation in its own right and a semi-autonomous part of the Kingdom of Denmark.

That is despite Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen calling the idea an “absurd discussion” and Greenland’s ministry of foreign affairs stressing the icy territory is “open for business, not for sale”.

In comments given to American media, Trump has described an envisaged deal to buy Greenland as “essentially… a large real estate deal. A lot of things can be done.”

His economic advisor Larry Kudlow, speaking to Fox News, described Greenland as having “a lot of valuable minerals.”

“I don’t want to predict it now… I’m just saying the president, who knows a thing or two about buying real estate, wants to take a look at a potential Greenland purchase,” Kudlow said.

In other comments, Trump seemed to suggest Denmark owed the United States subservience due to its Nato membership.

“Denmark essentially owns (Greenland). We’re very good allies with Denmark, we protect Denmark like we protect large portions of the world. So the concept came up and I said, ‘Certainly I’d be (interested)’,” he said.

Denmark is a member of Nato, which is regularly criticized by the US president, who says member nations do not pay a high enough proportion of their GDP for mutual defence alongside the US military.

While all this is going on, advertising hoarding at Copenhagen’s City Hall Square (Rådhuspladsen) appears to be smoothing the way for (or warning of) Trump’s scheduled state visit to Denmark on September 2nd and 3rd.

That visit is likely to see wide-scale protests against Trump by a Danish public amongst which he is highly unpopular. They are probably aghast at the idea of the uncouth president being given the ceremonial treatment by Denmark’s royal family and government.

Even so, Trump himself on Sunday cast doubt as to whether the visit—for which huge amounts of Danish taxpayers’ money are presumably going into planning and security—would happen at all.

“I’m supposed to be going there,” Trump said in reference to the visit, in connection with his Greenland comments.

“I’m thinking about going there. I’m not necessarily, definitely going there, but I may be going. We're going to Poland and then we may be going to Denmark – not for this reason at all, but we're looking at it,” he said.

Why is he now casting doubt on whether the visit will take place? Is it a veiled threat that he will not grace Denmark with his presence if it doesn’t play ball over the bizarre Greenland purchase plan? He says they’re not connected, but there’s little reason to trust what he says. Is it just because Trump himself doesn’t really know what he’s supposed to be doing?

Whatever the case, Denmark should save itself the trouble and just cancel the visit.

Trump is the political embodiment of an impolite dinner guest.

If you invited someone to eat at your home, prepared your finest food, got out your antique cutlery and renovated the driveway so they could safely park, you probably wouldn’t appreciate it if they started talking about buying your brother, before then suggesting they might not bother coming anyway.

Denmark owes Donald Trump nothing and Greenland is not a piece of meat or real estate to be sold off.

But the United States is a vital ally for Denmark, so Denmark must therefore be accommodating and diplomatic and do all it can to keep relations between the two countries strong. Normally, that would include providing for presidential visits the public doesn’t want.

Nevertheless, neither Denmark nor Greenland should have to put up with Trump’s staggering arrogance and ignorance while affording him a state visit.

Perhaps getting in first and withdrawing the invitation would make the US president consider a little more courtesy, even if only for a second.


Member comments

  1. Why all the negative press about Trump? As far as I can see he isn’t racist, or a misogynist, he’s not narcissistic and he certainly isn’t xenophobe. He has repaired the USA and, before CV19, it had the lowest unemployment figures and the highest Dow index in American history. He has opened funding collages in poor black areas and has said on numerous occasions that foriegners are welcome into the USA as long as they use the CORRECT entry points and apply legally for citizenship, you know, like you have to do in Danmark. So he had a rather large fence built on the southern border of America and has increased patrols there. Whats the problem? Every home in Beverly Hills has a fence around it AND armed private security! Why? To protect your property and to stop bad people from getting into your garden and/or house. Waht’s the differance? There isn’t one.

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OPINION: If you can’t go home for Christmas, Denmark is a good place to be

After missing out on seeing his family for Christmas 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, The Local Denmark editor Michael Barrett got to try out Danish Christmas for the first time.

A Danish dining table on Christmas Eve.
A Danish dining table on Christmas Eve. File photo: Vibeke Toft/Ritzau Scanpix

We’d always planned to spend last Christmas in the UK. My daughter was born in March 2020, coinciding with the outset of the global coronavirus pandemic but, as worrying and uncertain as everything was at the time, we were sure it would have all settled down in nine months’ time. We started planning for her to spend her first Christmas with her grandparents, cousin and the rest of our extended family in England.

As we all know, this was far from how things turned out. The autumn and winter of last year saw spiralling Covid-19 cases across Europe and countries responding by introducing more and more restrictions, including on travel.

I’m not sure exactly when we conceded we’d have to cancel our plans to go to the UK for Christmas in 2020, but I do remember the look of resignation on my parents’ faces when I let them know. The writing had already been on the wall for a while by then.

Visiting my partner’s mother in December, I looked out of the window at the greying skies over Jutland, the dim lights of a distant Føtex store and the limp red and white pendants on flag poles as bare as the trees, and nothing felt familiar.

This was because, despite having lived in Denmark for almost a decade and a half, I’d never spent Christmas in the country. Every year I’d head home by the 22nd or 23rd, usually returning just before New Year to enjoy the rowdy firework displays in Aarhus or Copenhagen after a week of putting my feet up and savouring the familiarity and comfort of Christmas at home.

Denmark famously has its own Christmas traditions, comparable but certainly different to the British ones. I knew about them – I’ve exchanged information about national Christmas customs with many Danes over the years – but never witnessed them first-hand.

The big day came around quickly, not least because it all happens on the 24th, not the 25th.

Festivities did take a while to get going, though. Not until 4pm in fact, when ancient Disney Christmas special From All of Us to All of You, known in Danish as Disneys juleshow began on main TV broadcaster DR. Usually I’d have been watching an early-1980s David Bowie introducing The Snowman around now. A cup of warm gløgg (spiced red wine with raisins and almonds) was thrust into my hand, and I missed Bowie a little bit less.

After a couple more glasses of gløgg and wine, we sat down for Christmas dinner: roast duck, brown potatoes, boiled potatoes, gravy and red cabbage. It was of course already dark and a prolific number of candles were lit on the table and around the room, adding to the festive feeling of the star-topped tree, paper hearts and other decorations.

For dessert, we had risalamande, the popular cold rice sweet mixed with whipped cream, vanilla and chopped almonds and served with cherry sauce. By tradition, one whole almond is left in the dessert and whoever finds it wins a present, which is customarily a julegris, a chocolate pig with marzipan filling. This game is often fixed so that a child (or children) wins the prize, but the only child present was a nine-month-old and I ended up finding the almond in my bowl.

Then it was time to dance around the tree and exchange presents. Most of us had too much dessert, so it was a more sedate affair than I expected. After the little one was fast asleep we sat back on the sofas and had a couple more glasses of wine or maybe a few snacks.

It was all over before Santa traditionally lands his sleigh on rooftops and hops down British chimneys in the small hours of Christmas morning.

Danish families with young children often assign someone to dress up as Father Christmas and come round to deliver the presents to excited youngsters before dinner on Christmas Eve.

Maybe I’ll get the chance to audition for the role next year because our Danish-British family will be in Denmark every other Christmas for the foreseeable future – by choice, not restriction. I’m looking forward to it, because my first Danish Christmas gave me a better understanding of why this time of year is loved by so many Danes.

READ ALSO: My five favourite Danish childhood Christmas memories