Greenland Responds to Rumor Trump Wants to Buy It

'We are open for business, but we're not for sale'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2019 11:57 AM CDT
Greenland to US on Rumored 'Sale': It's a No From Us
In this image taken on June 15, 2019, small pieces of ice float in the water in Nuuk Fjord, Greenland.   (AP Photo/Keith Virgo)

Yet another US president has had his dreams to scoop up Greenland quashed. Donald Trump joins Harry S. Truman and Andrew Johnson in being informed such a purchase is not going to happen after all, despite reports that Trump had indeed mulled the idea last spring at buying the semi-autonomous island territory from Denmark. "We are open for business, but we're not for sale," was the official reaction from Greenland's foreign minister, Ane Lone Bagger, per Reuters. Former Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen also weighed in, on Twitter. "It must be an April Fool's Day joke ... but totally out of season!" he wrote. More on this headline-maker from around the internet:

  • Further reaction from Greenland: "Of course, Greenland is not for sale. Because of the unofficial nature of the news, the government of Greenland has no further comments," reads a statement from the office of Premier Kim Kielsen, per NBC News. A science expert with the Greenland Climate Research Centre adds, "I honestly don't know what to say, as I have a hard time taking it seriously."
  • And from Denmark: "If he is truly contemplating this, then this is final proof, that he has gone mad," a rep for the right-wing Danish People's Party tells the BBC. "The thought of Denmark selling 50,000 citizens to the United States is completely ridiculous." One of the country's conservative MPs adds on Twitter: "Out of all things that are not going to happen this is the most unlikely. Forget it."
  • What happened with past bids? The Washington Post reports that Harry Truman's administration offered Denmark $100 million in gold bars in 1946, but the offer was "seen as a bit of an insult" and rejected, per a Florida State University professor. The Reykjavik Grapevine, meanwhile, details the interest that Andrew Johnson's administration had in both Greenland and Iceland. A research report put together at that time noted the "vast quantities" of wildlife and "good coal" on Greenland and recommended it be purchased for both "political and commercial" reasons. The deal never came to fruition.

  • Why would Trump even want Greenland? The running joke on Twitter is that he's looking for new golf-course real estate, but Vox explains that the island's rich mineral resources—including iron ore, diamonds, zinc, gold, and oil—are now more within reach via mining and drilling thanks to the increased melting of Arctic ice from climate change. Forbes adds that Greenland has long been seen as a strategic location for military operations.
  • But what if he actually does want to build a golf course there? Sen. Lindsey Graham tells the Post and Courier: "I know the golf season is pretty short, I hope he understands that's not a place to build a golf course. I just don't know what's driving that, I really don't."
  • Is such a purchase even possible? Vox and the BBC say yes—for e.g., the US' 1917 purchase of the Danish West Indies, which became the US Virgin Islands—but Bloomberg says in this case, "the short answer is no." A Greenland University professor says that's because of the nation's "home rule" law that says "the people of Greenland are a people with right to self-determination under international law." Meaning, per Bloomberg, that "Trump's best hope would be for the territory to gain independence and then choose to arrange a sale to the US."
  • Humor us, though—ballpark asking price? Bloomberg says it would be hard to tell, because the 83,000-square-mile island isn't on the market, so it hasn't been sufficiently appraised. Its GDP in 2017, however, was a tad over $2.7 billion, with an extra $500 million annual subsidy from Denmark.
(Read more Greenland stories.)

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