COPENHAGEN, Denmark — President Donald Trump’s idea to possibly buy Greenland for its natural resources left residents of the semiautonomous Danish territory amused, apoplectic and in disbelief, and received a chilly reception in Denmark on Friday.
“I hope it’s a joke, because it’s a terrible and grotesque thought,” said Martin Lidegaard, chairman of Denmark’s Foreign Policy Committee.
The idea first sprang up last year, according to a New York Times report Thursday, when Trump joked about buying Greenland for its natural wealth during a meeting that spring in the Oval Office. Citing people familiar with his thinking, the article said he had repeatedly returned to the possibility, adding that the country, which is part of the kingdom of Denmark, also appeals to him because of its location in the North Atlantic has security value.
His advisers were skeptical that a purchase of the world’s largest island could happen, but they agreed to investigate.
“Greenland is not for sale and cannot be sold, but Greenland is open for trade and corporation with other countries — including the United States,” Kim Kielsen, Greenland’s premier, said in a statement, according to the Ritzau news agency.
Social media users were quick to exploit the report about the American president’s exploring the purchase of Greenland. One photoshopped a pompous-looking golden tower into a picture of Greenlandic villages with colorful two-story wooden houses. Another asked if Denmark could trade Greenland for Hawaii.
Greenland, a nation of 56,000, has a shared history with Denmark since the first Vikings settled there. If that relationship were to change, it would not be up to Denmark and certainly not up to an American president’s “impulse,” said Henrik O. Breitenbauch, an expert on Greenland and the head of the Center for Military Studies at Copenhagen University.
“You don’t just trade people and countries,” Breitenbauch added.