Rufus Gifford, former US ambassador to Denmark, has slammed the White House and President Donald Trump after Trump tweeted that he would be postponing a state visit to Denmark which had been scheduled for early September to “another time.”
Gifford, who served as US envoy to the country from 2013 to 2017, argued that Trump’s decision to postpone the visit was “just not the way you treat a loyal ally.”
“This was a state dinner – the first state dinner that a sitting United States president has done in Denmark since Bill Clinton in 1997. It’s a big deal here,” Gifford told CNN.
The former diplomat recalled that Denmark had joined the US in many of its foreign wars, including Iraq and Syria, noting that “they went and they fought alongside our troops and they died alongside our troops.”
Denmark lost 43 servicemen and women in the US war in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion in 2001, and at least 7 troops in the invasion of Iraq. By comparison, 16 Danish soldiers were killed during the Nazi invasion of Denmark in 1940 before the government made the decision to surrender in the face of overwhelming German superiority.
According to Gifford, although Denmark was “not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics,” they do remain “a big fan of the United States of America.”
“I think it just speaks to again to the way I think this president…views these traditional alliances, and not just Denmark, [but] NATO more broadly, these alliances that have kept the West peaceful and prosperous for so many decades,” the diplomat stressed.
Gifford also took his rage to Twitter, accusing Trump of “snubb[ing] the entire Kingdom” of Denmark and acting like “a child.”
So to sum up:— Rufus Gifford (@rufusgifford) 21 августа 2019 г.
He asks for an invitation from a great friend and ally.
The Queen obliges invites him for a State visit.
He declares the visit contingent on the great friend selling part of it’s territory to him
This. Is. Not. Normal.
Gifford’s remarks echoed former Prime Minister of Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s statement late Tuesday that Trump’s decision to cancel his visit was “deeply insulting to the people of Greenland and Denmark.”
So the POTUS has cancelled his visit to Denmark because there was no interest in discussing selling Greenland @BBCRadio4 Is this some sort of joke? Deeply insulting to the people of Greenland and Denmark.— Helle Thorning S (@HelleThorning_S) 21 августа 2019 г.
Earlier Wednesday, US media reported, citing unnamed ‘senior administration officials’, that the US had planned to offer Denmark a deal in which the US would “take over” Copenhagen’s annual $600 million subsidy to Greenland “in perpetuity.”
Earlier this week, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said she “strongly” hoped Trump was not serious, emphasizing that his proposal was ‘absurd’, and that Greenland was its own country and that it was “not for sale.”
Trump responded on Wednesday, accusing Frederiksen of being ‘not nice’, and saying that the prime minister was responding not just to him, but to the United States of America.
Trump continued his attacks later Wednesday, tweeting about Denmark’s low spending in NATO, and about the alliance’s overall “very unfair” treatment of the United States.
....Because of me, these countries have agreed to pay ONE HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS more - but still way short of what they should pay for the incredible military protection provided. Sorry!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 21 августа 2019 г.
Greenland is classified as an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, and is home to fewer than 60,000 people. Copenhagen has been charged with the Arctic nation’s foreign affairs, military issues and constitutional matters since 1979, when the area was formally granted home rule. The US temporarily occupied the region during World War II out of strategic considerations, but returned it to Denmark after the war while maintaining a military presence in the region. Prior to President Trump’s public offer to ‘buy’ the island nation, the US previously attempted to negotiate with Denmark in the 19th century to obtain the northern territory, although this effort was blocked by Congress.