Greenland’s government on Friday dismissed the idea it was for sale after Donald Trump made rumblings about purchasing the world’s largest island from Denmark.
‘We are open for business, but we’re not for sale,’ Greenland’s foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger told Reuters.
‘#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 official account of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted.
Other Danish politicians also scorned the idea.
‘It has to be an April Fool’s joke. Totally out of season,’ former prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen wrote on Twitter.
Greenland’s government dismissed the idea it was for sale after Donald Trump made rumblings about purchasing it from Denmark
The 811,000-square-mile island of icy terrain in the Atlantic inhabits about 56,000 people and is an autonomous Danish territory
‘If he is truly contemplating this, then this is final proof, that he has gone mad,’ foreign affairs spokesman for the Danish People’s Party, Soren Espersen, told broadcaster DR.
‘The thought of Denmark selling 50,000 citizens to the United States is completely ridiculous,’ he added.
The president is scheduled to visit Copenhagen in September and the Arctic region, which plays a large role in U.S. national security, is expected to be on the agenda when he meets with the Danish prime minister.
Trump, who was in the real estate business before entering the White House, has repeatedly asked his advisers if it would be possible for the U.S. to purchase Greenland – an autonomous Danish territory – for its resources and geopolitical significance, The Wall Street Journal reported.
‘What do you guys think about that?’ Trump asked advisers last spring. ‘Do you think it would work?’
It’s not the first time an American president has suggested buying the island, located between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.
There were two failed attempts by U.S. to purchase it: President Harry Truman tried to buy it for $100 million in 1946 and the State Department inquired about it in 1867.
It’s unclear how the U.S. would go about purchasing it today, should the situation change, or how much the world’s largest island would cost.
Trump is scheduled to make his first visit to Denmark early next month, although the visit appears to be unrelated to any desire he may have around the purchase of the Danish autonomous territory
Greenland handles its own domestic affairs but foreign matters and security policy is handled by Copenhagen
The 811,000-square-mile island of icy terrain in the Atlantic inhabits about 56,000 people, and though it is technically in North American waters, the self-governing land is culturally European.
It handles its own domestic affairs but foreign matters and security policy is handled by Copenhagen.
The U.S. is not the only nation keeping a close eye on the territory, which has three-quarters of its land covered with an ice sheet. Russia and China are also said to be interested because of the territory’s strategic location and mineral resources.
Trump told advisers he got the idea after he’d heard that Denmark was having financial problems because of the subsidies it pays to Greenland.
The island relies on $591 million of subsidies from Denmark annually, the Journal noted, which make up about 60 per cent of its annual budget.
The United States already has a strong presence in Greenland.
A defense treaty between Denmark and the U.S. dating back to 1951 gives the United States military virtually unlimited rights on the island, where Thule Air Base is located. Sitting at 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle, the base includes a radar station that is part early-warning system for missiles.
One White House adviser told the Journal it was unclear how serious Trump was in his speculation but noted since the president hadn’t floated the idea at a campaign rally yet, he probably wasn’t seriously considering it.
Others say it would appeal to the president to have a legacy like President Dwight Eisenhower ‘s admission of Alaska into the U.S. as a state. Alaska was purchased by the United States from Russia in 1867.
And the island’s natural resources, spread across 811,000 square miles, could also be one of the key attractions to a president.
A 2014 report from the Brookings Institute noted that Greenland’s mineral and energy resources – including iron ore, lead, zinc, diamonds, gold, rare earth elements, uranium and oil – are becoming more accessible due to its ice sheeting melting.
Trump will make his first visit to Denmark in early September, although it is said to be unrelated. He will meet with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. The Danes would make the ultimate decision about Greenland’s fate.
It would not be the first purchase America has made from Denmark.
In 1917, Denmark sold the then Danish West Indies islands to the U.S. for $25 million, which renamed them the United States Virgin Islands.
It’s unclear how exactly the U.S. would go about buying the largest island in the world after two failed attempts in 1946 and 1867
Trump will meet with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen in early September; the Danes would make the ultimate decision about Greenland’s fate
The United States has a long history of acquiring territory since it was first established as an independent nation state.
One of the key purchases was that of Louisiana, which it bought in 1803 from France for $15 million, the equivalent of $193 million in 2005.
The Republic of Texas was annexed by the United States in 1845 effectively bringing in 389,000 square miles of what was once Mexican territory under its control.
Three years later, after the Mexican-American War, all of the present-day states of California, Nevada, and Utah, as well as sections of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming were ceded to the U.S. by Mexico.
Mexico effectively lost about half of its national territory.
And in 1867 the United States bought Alaska, from Russia, for $7.2 million.
Further afield, American Samoa became a U.S. territory under the 1899 Treaty of Berlin between Germany, Great Britain, and the United States.
The islands to this day are under the administration of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Insular Affairs alongside Guam, which has been under its administration since the Spanish-American War of 1898 – barring three years during World War Two when Japan took control.
Today, there are also a number of outlying islands, which are territories of the United States, including the Midway Atoll, (1867), Palmyra Atoll (1898, with Hawaii), Wake Atoll (1899), Baker Island and Howland Island ( 1857), Jarvis Island ( 1858), Johnston Atoll (1858), Kingman Reef (1922), and Navassa Island (1857).
A history of the United States’ territorial acquisitions
The United States has a long history of acquiring territory since it was first established as an independent nation state at the end of the American Revolution in 1783.
The United States became an independent nation after the American Revolution in 1783
Here are some of the key dates and purchases made by the United States in the decades since it became an independent nation.
- 1803: Louisiana, 23.3 per cent of United States territory was bought from France for $15 million
- 1818: Red River Valley was acquired at no cost as part of the declaration of the Anglo-American Convention that established the US-Canada border
- 1819: Florida was bought from Spain. No money changed hands as the US had assumed $5 million in claims by its citizens against Spain
- 1845: The republic of Texas broke away from Mexico and was annexed by the United States bringing 389,000 square miles into its territory
- 1846: The Oregon Treaty established the boundary between Canada and the United States and saw the area, which includes present-day states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and portions of Montana and Wyoming ceded from Britain
- 1848: Mexico lost half of its territory after the Mexican-American War as it lost land that makes up the present-day states of of California, Nevada, and Utah, as well as the portions of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming
- 1853: The Gadsden Purchase gave the United States ownership of the Mesilla Valley south of the Gila River, which today makes up land in the US states of Arizona and New Mexico
- 1867: Alaska was bought from Russia for $7.2 million
- 1898: Guam became a US territory under the 1898 Treaty of Paris and today remains under US administration. The Philippines was also bought from Spain for $20 million this year and was eventually granted complete independence in 1946
- 1899: American Samoa was acquired under the 1899 Treaty of Berlin and is today under US administration