PREMIER EGEDE: Secretary Blinken, it has been a pleasure to have you as a guest in my country, in Greenland. This year, we will celebrate Kangerlussuaq’s 80-years anniversary. It was built by the U.S. Army Air Force in 1941. It shows as a great symbol of our shared history and the evolution of our relationship. What began as a military base is now an important civilian airport for Greenland. Kangerlussuaq also hosts the Air National Guard and the National Science Foundation, who works closely with the Greenlandic scientific communities. This is a direct result of our relation, as we saw a few minutes ago.
Our relationships starts – starting with the strategic situation with the world at war has evolved to a cooperation in science and mutual interest and understanding the health of our planet. I hope this evolution in our relationship will serve as a example for all of the Arctic and the world. It is among the examples like this that science, peace, and prosperity can grow from common global challenges. I hope that your visit today will pave the way for even deeper bonds. We made a common plan for our cooperation in October last year with the U.S. and the world to deepen our bond – have those already begun.
And your visit, Secretary Blinken – or Tony, as your friends call you – and our talks today reaffirm our commitment to each other. As I said earlier today, Greenland is unavoidable in the development in the Arctic. And I will say that so to the rest of the world: Nothing about us in the Arctic without us.
Based on this, I’m convinced that this decade will be the beginning of a new era in the relationship between our countries with developing trade, science, and common interest protecting the fragile environment for the benefit of the planet. The value of visiting Greenland in person and seeing the unique opportunities and challenges can’t be overstated in this regard. You see the ice cap today. You’ve been told about the climate changes and the – and so on. Greenland has in the U.S. what every country needs – a close friend, a good and open relation, and a strong ally to keep and maintain the Arctic as a peaceful place.
So please, Secretary Blinken, send our regards to President Biden with best wishes and bring him our invitation to visit Greenland at any convenient time here in Greenland. And as I say to you, qujanaq, it means thank you. Let it be the first word of the next steps of our relationships to learn that word. It’s meaning thank you, so qujanaq. Now Jeppe, the foreign minister from Denmark, will have some few words. Jeppe.
FOREIGN MINISTER KOFOD: Thank you so much, Premier Egede, for welcoming us here today. Greenland is very close to my heart. It is impossible not be overwhelmed by the beauty of this country and the hospitality of its people.
Being here with you, Secretary Blinken, is particular pleasure. The U.S. is a close friend of the entire kingdom, our most important ally, and a strategic partner in the world today. The relationship between Denmark, Greenland, and the U.S. is strong and unique. The U.S. military has been present in Greenland for 80 years, and we have – working closely together to ensure the security and prosperity of both the U.S. and the kingdom. For all of us the way ahead is international cooperation between the kingdom, the U.S., between Greenland and the U.S., and between everyone who wants a positive, peaceful, and sustainable development in the Arctic. Thank you so much.
PREMIER EGEDE: Thank you. Sir, please.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister. And just a few days ago, I was in Copenhagen with Foreign Minister Broberg, with Foreign Minister Kofod, and now I’m especially delighted to be reunited here in Greenland and to have the chance not only to meet you but to get to know you over the course of these hours. And I greatly appreciate that. I want to extend my congratulations in person to the new Greenlandic government, following April’s elections.
Before we get to the visit to Greenland, let me just offer a very brief update on the situation in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. During my flight here from Iceland, I spoke again with my Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi and reiterated President Biden’s message that we expect to see a de-escalation on the path to a ceasefire.
I also spoke to a number of my counterparts about this over the course of the last 24 hours while I was in Iceland on the margins of the Arctic Council meeting. There’s a deep and shared concern around the world for the deaths of innocent Palestinians and innocent Israelis. Our goal continues to be to stop the violence, bring calm, and then get back to work trying to build lasting stability and a more hopeful future for all.
Returning to today’s events, I’m in Greenland because the United States deeply values our partnership and wants to make it even stronger. That’s why we reopened our consulate in Nuuk last year after nearly 70 years, a signal of our enduring commitment to the Arctic and to boosting our shared security and prosperity with our Arctic partners – Greenland and Denmark. We’ve been working together closely to increase our engagement across the board, from trade and investment to scientific research, energy and mining, to sustainable tourism and public health.
Let me just cite two examples. We’ve seen, first of all, that the Arctic educational lines, a collaboration between Greenlandic institutions and the University of Alaska Fairbanks to support land and fisheries management, sustainable tourism, and the hospitality industry here in Greenland. And the U.S. National Science Foundation and U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration work with partners here in Greenland to carry out urgent research on melting sheet ice and to better understand the impacts of the climate crisis on the Arctic and marine environment in the North Atlantic.
Greenland’s fjords, ice caps, and sheet ice are powerful reminders of the scale and speed of the climate crisis, something that I had an opportunity with my colleagues to witness for myself as we flew over the ice cap. And we see how it’s receding at an alarmingly rapid pace as a result of global warming. The people of Greenland, of course, have seen it for themselves, and they’ve seen how these rising global temperatures are transforming their homeland.
And so actually having the opportunity not just to talk about it, not just to read about it, but to actually see it is very, very compelling. This is as urgent as it gets, and the United States applauds Greenland’s efforts to reach its renewable energy targets by the end of the decade.
As the premier and I discussed today, our countries will work together on other pressing issues as well. For example, to build back better after the COVID-19 pandemic so that we can prevent, detect, and respond to future global health crises, and to protect and defend democratic values at home and around the world as well. More broadly, the United States is committed to being a good partner to our Arctic allies and partners. We were just in Reykjavik, as I noted, for the Arctic Council ministerial meeting. I reiterated our vision of an Arctic region that is free of conflict, where nations act responsibly, where economic development and investment take place in a sustainable and transparent manner that respects the environment and the interests and culture of local and indigenous people.
We know that Greenland shares that vision, Denmark shares that vision, and we will work together as partners to realize that vision. Thank you very much.
PREMIER EGEDE: Thank you. And to the last, I will say it again: I appreciate a lot, as a leader for the Greenlandic Government and for the Greenlandic people, that you starting to be a big player again in the international politics, as being part of an international agreement again, like the Paris Agreement, and the – because we want some peaceful development developing in the rest of the world, and also the Arctic. So thank you for that.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you.
PREMIER EGEDE: Yeah. So —
MODERATOR: Thank you, Egede, Blinken, Kofod, and Broberg. And now we are opening the questions from the press. The first question will be from Arnaq Nielsen, KNR, Greenland.
QUESTION: Secretary Blinken – it’s here.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Where are you? Ah.
QUESTION: Here. (Laughter.)
FOREIGN MINISTESR KOFOD: That’s great, Tony.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you.
QUESTION: The Biden administration is quite new, as we all know. And why is it so important for United States of America to visit Greenland in this early stage of presidential period? Tell us specifically, why is Greenland so important?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you. Sorry about that. I think what you’re seeing and what we’re trying to move forward today – but not only today, but every day – is the strong desire on the part of the United States to build a true and strong partnership with Greenland. We have – the relationship between the United States and the Kingdom of Denmark is strong and multifaceted, and we’ve made significant ties – strides – excuse me – on broadening our ties with Greenland. And what was important, I think, about coming here today was to demonstrate that the way we see the relationship is as a partnership. We have shared interests; we have shared values. At a time when the world is ever more complicated and challenging, it’s very important to reinvigorate our – not only our alliances, but our partnerships with countries that share our interests and values. And that’s why we’ve sought to deepen our engagement here in Greenland.
We had the reopening of the consulate, as you know, last year in Nuuk after 70 years. That already reflected a mutual desire to deepen the U.S.-Greenland-Denmark relationship, underscoring its importance and the significance we place on the Arctic region as a whole. And of course, we were also together at the Arctic Council meeting. I think we’ve seen the tremendous potential when it comes to the Arctic region to have something that unfortunately is increasingly rare, which is a region at peace, where there is genuine cooperation among nations to make progress and advance on issues that are critical to our time, particularly climate change, scientific exploration, and actually dealing effectively with sustainable development.
Let me just add that we have worked closely and cooperatively with the governments of Greenland and Denmark on increasing engagement. We have, as you know, a program that the prime minister alluded to with very specific projects that focus on economic growth to include very important educational elements. We’re looking at doing things that are focused on sustainable tourism, fishing, land management between organizations and universities in the United States and Greenland. This and other efforts and programs, including the Fulbright Program, are designed to strengthen the partnership, and strengthen it not just government to government, but also, ultimately, commercially through people-to-people ties, and to bind us, I hope, evermore closely together.
So it’s a long way of saying what – the big focus of our foreign policy, immediately, from day one, has been to energize, invigorate, or reinvigorate as necessary, the partnerships with likeminded countries. And that’s exactly what we’re doing here today.
MODERATOR: The next question will be from Frederikke Ingemann, TV2, Denmark.
QUESTION: Yes. Secretary of State Blinken. Hello? Can you hear me?
PREMIER EGEDE: You should hold it on – this way.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Huh? Sounded good. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Do you have another one? It’s a shame not to get a question.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, what – maybe not, depends on what. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Now it works. Oh, yeah, indeed.
Secretary of State Blinken, you’re talking about deepening the relationship to Greenland and to the Kingdom of Denmark. You’re talking about invigorating the partnership. In Iceland, you also talked about – you said that Greenland is not only of the strategic importance.
So could you please be a little more – bit more concrete? What will the U.S. actually offer Greenland, having in mind that Mute B. Egede, at your side, stated that what the U.S. gives to Greenland should be according to the needs of Greenland? So what can the U.S. and will the U.S. actually offer Greenland?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you. We already have, I think, a good foundation in a common program that was established, and that we now actually want to move forward on and make very concrete. Just as – to give you an example, we have already, just at the government level, about $12 million in programming in the first year, and plans for additional funding. And again, these programs focus on economic growth. They have important educational elements. I touched on a few of them. Focused on sustainable tourism, focused on fishing, land management, and bringing together organizations, bringing together universities.
But beyond that, beyond the government-to-government, as I said – this is something we talked about today. We would – we’d like to find ways to strengthen even more the commercial relationship, and that’s something we’re going to work on. The people-to-people ties – and once we get beyond COVID-19, I expect that we will see more of that. Certainly, I’m going to go home as someone who’s going to strongly recommend to my friends that they find a way to come visit.
But beyond that, I think we have a joint committee that is going to get to work in actually moving forward on some of these programs and projects, and we’ll develop new ones. So this is something that is not like flipping a light switch. It’s going to develop over time. But there’s one fundamental thing that we both have in mind in talking to the prime minister and to my colleagues – is we both feel a strong obligation in everything that we’re doing to think about how it is what we’re doing is going to have a practical impact in bettering the lives of the citizens that we work for. And I think as we continue to grow the relationship, to strengthen it, that’s exactly what we’re going to have in mind. How do we, through the work that we’re doing together, create more opportunity? How do we share experiences, knowledge, best practices, including when it comes to education? How do we connect our people in ways that will allow them to improve their lives? These are the things that are motivating us, and I think you’ll see that unfold in the months and years ahead.
MR PRICE: John Hudson.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. Mr. Secretary, an unusual question for some unusual times we’ve lived through recently. Can you definitively say that the United States does not seek to buy Greenland?
And given the rising death toll between Israel and Hamas and calls for U.S. involvement, do you think it was a mistake not to add a stop to the Middle East on this trip? Also, could you comment on just breaking reports that the Israeli cabinet has approved a ceasefire to end the offensive in Gaza?
Premier Egede, when so much discourse about Greenland surrounds it being a space of natural resource potential or strategic, geopolitical competition, does that kind of talk cheapen the value of the 56,000 people who live here? Or is it a source of pride? And the same question for Foreign Minister Kofod.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: I’m happy to start. The answer to the very first part of your question is I can confirm that’s correct.
Second, with regard to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, I’ve seen these emerging reports of a ceasefire. I can’t confirm them. I expect to be speaking to the Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi as soon as we get on the plane and start heading back home, so I’ll know more then. I am prepared at any time to go to Israel, to the Middle East, if that would serve the purpose of moving beyond the violence and helping to work on improving lives for Israelis and Palestinians alike. And so if there’s a good time to do that, that’s certainly something I intend to do.
Right now, we’re focused on hopefully seeing that these reports are real and that, as President Biden said, we have a genuine de-escalation and a ceasefire.
PREMIER EGEDE: Thank you. My foreign minister will answer your question, so Pele, please.
FOREIGN MINISTER BROBERG: Thank you very much for your question. There is no doubt that a lot of people speculating on the geo-location, and it’s of the utmost importance for the defense of the United States. But as we have discovered during the course of the last few days with Secretary Blinken in Copenhagen, in the Arctic Council meeting in Reykjavik and today, and which we will underscore is – this is not considered a real estate deal. Real estate means land with nothing on it, nobody on it. Secretary Blinken has made it very clear that he is here for the people living in the Arctic, for the people living in Greenland.
So for our point of view, it’s a matter of pride that Secretary Blinken has honored us with his visit on this trip, and we do realize that they have many obligations around the world. You just underscored one of them, and in that respect, it is quite important that we feel honored with his presence here today.
We have again and again talked about how do we get something out of a meeting. Well, occasionally – journalists may not know this, but we have a lot of competent people working behind the scenes. And these guys are helping put together how we work together between countries. But what this visit means for us in the first instance is that occasionally you need to show the rest of the world we are actually working together. The people-to-people contact, which I also brought up in the Arctic Council meeting, is what Secretary Blinken is underscoring here today by his presence. It does not need to, as you say, flip a switch and something changes, but it does illustrate his point this is between people and countries, of course.
So we take it as a matter of pride that the United States has taken the time to honor us with Secretary Blinken’s visit. I hope that answers your question.
FOREIGN MINISTER KOFOD: If I also may add, first of all, I mean, the United States is the most important ally to the Kingdom of Denmark – to Greenland, to Denmark. It is the foundation for our security. We share common interests, we share common values, and I believe we have done so over many decades. And this prosperity that we all enjoy is something that is due to the strong transatlantic relationship that we hold so dear. And these values and the world that we are in, we need to protect them, we need to protect our interests, and that is why I’m so happy that Secretary Blinken, Tony, can come to Denmark, to Greenland, and have this close, close cooperation with us. Because we share also the same aspirations for delivering prosperity, economic opportunity, and peaceful cooperation also in the Arctic and North Atlantic. And today, I think this visit also testify the close relationship that we have, and we have been working for a long time and is deepening into the future.
And I’m proud also, like my colleague, that Secretary Blinken has visited the Kingdom of Denmark and Greenland and also engaged so heavily in cooperation. The U.S., as I said, not only when it comes to big issues but also person to person, commercial issues, cultural issues, looking into the world that we see a climate crisis, which was top of the agenda of the Arctic Ministerial Council. We did a good declaration. This is so important.
So I also, for my part, from the Government of Denmark, want to thank Secretary Blinken and the prime minister and also my colleague for this. Thank you.
PREMIER EGEDE: At the end, we have built on a relationship in the last 80 years. So I think the visit from Secretary Blinken today is also a sign of a next step of our relationship for the future. So thank you again for your visit and I hope to see you again, and maybe your President in the coming four years.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you. Thank you very much.
PREMIER EGEDE: Thank you.