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Ambassador Sands’ remarks at the 2020 Independence Day Celebrations

Ambassador Sands’ remarks at the 2020 Independence Day Celebrations

September 4, 2020

Excellencies, Ministers, distinguished colleagues, and friends – welcome.

Thank you for joining me on this beautiful afternoon to celebrate American independence and the birth of our great democracy, which turns 244 years old this year.

This occasion gives us the opportunity to honor the strong and historic alliance between the United States and the Kingdom of Denmark

I personally want to thank Denmark, its people, and its leaders for sharing their values, their thoughts, and their culture with me and my family.  I have loved living in Denmark and being a Nordic resident. Through my many conversations I have learnt about the hopes, dreams, and concerns of the Danes.

We have had many remarkable achievements together during my service, capped off most recently by Secretary Pompeo’s successful visit to Copenhagen and his warm and substantive meetings with Prime Minister Frederiksen and Foreign Minister Kofod.  He also participated in the first-ever meeting by a U.S. Secretary of State with ministers from Denmark, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands, demonstrating the strong U.S. cooperation with the Kingdom of Denmark.

Earlier this year we saw another monumental achievement – the reopening after 67 years of our Consulate in Nuuk, spearheaded by our Consul Sung Choi.  We achieved this milestone through close cooperation between the U.S., Danish, and Greenlandic governments.  With this new diplomatic presence, we will deepen our relationship with Greenlanders and better understand and advance the issues that matter to them.

The U.S. and Denmark have a close relationship, which allows us to speak frankly and honestly with each other.  I have underscored our collective need to invest and modernize our forces to protect against increasing threats and have highlighted the urgency to protect critical infrastructure with our Danish partners and colleagues.  And it has heartened me to see the Danish government and parliament work to address so many of these issues.

While there is still more work to be done, I want to thank Denmark for committing more resources to strengthening their defense capabilities.

I also want to thank Denmark for their leadership in the EU on issues that matter – including standing up for democracy in Venezuela, calling out Iran for launching an assassination plot in Europe, and pushing for sanctions on Russia.  Denmark also has pointed out how Nord Stream 2 is worrying because it gives Russia another lever to exert control over Europe.

Our Danish friends have been more forward-leaning than some of their neighbors on 5G security and committing to use only trusted vendors in their 5G networks – we call it the clean path.  It is reassuring to see Denmark treating the protection of critical infrastructure as a national security issue.  We are hopeful that these measures will be codified in legislation soon, and that other European countries will adopt similar laws.

Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said during Secretary Pompeo’s recent visit to Denmark that both of our countries are “rulemakers, not ruletakers.”  It is important to stand up and be counted among the countries who will call out the People’s Republic of China and other malign actors for their increasing efforts to shape the world after their own authoritarian image.

As fellow democratic nations, a spirit of honesty and camaraderie runs through all aspects of the friendship between the United States and Denmark, and are among the many shared values and guiding principles that make up our close relationship.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. trade relationship with Denmark had reached new heights.  In 2019, the U.S. surpassed Germany as Denmark’s largest export destination.

Americans depend on and love Danish products and great Danish design, whether it’s wind turbines, groundbreaking medicines, LEGOs, or beautifully designed furniture.  And it’s a two-way street.

Danes depend on and love American goods.  From iPhones and Microsoft products to Weber grills and our own groundbreaking medicines.  And we can build on this momentum.

Trade is just one area where we have amazing cooperation with our Danish friends.  Our historic alliance extends to security cooperation, promoting democratic values, and combatting malign influence.

Secretary Pompeo calls Denmark “a strong and noble partner of the United States.”  I personally want to thank the Danes for the historic wide-ranging cooperation and long-standing partnership we share with the Kingdom of Denmark and its people.

The U.S. stands in unshakeable solidarity with Denmark and our other NATO Allies for our mutual defense as enshrined in Article 5.  We also must honor Article 3 by contributing more to keep NATO strong in the face of new threats including cyber, artificial intelligence, and energy security.

Beyond Europe’s borders, the United States and Denmark are committed to keeping the Arctic a low-tension area of peace and stability where development benefits the people who live there.  As an Arctic nation, we recognize this region’s tremendous importance, and it is heartening to see our Danish partners taking on greater responsibility for security in the Arctic.

We want to strengthen our cooperation with the Faroe Islands and the Faroese people in the fields of trade, science, health, tourism, and investment.  The Faroese government hosted me for a visit in July to talk about the next steps for growing our relationship.

Over the last three years, during my many trips throughout the Kingdom of Denmark, including Greenland and the Faroe Islands, I have tried to show the contrast in values between democratic nations like the United States and our European allies on one hand, and Russia, the People’s Republic of China, and other authoritarian governments on the other.  I have highlighted how the democratic values that underpin Western institutions are critical to our strong transatlantic alliance.  We trust each other.  We respect each other.

As Secretary Pompeo says, we need to create an alliance of democracies to confront this challenge from totalitarian nations and stand up for the liberties that matter to us and the rest of the free world.  We cannot do this alone.  We have more power when we stand up for each other, our democratic way of life, and our Western ideals.

We must not remain silent, even when it is uncomfortable.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

So as we celebrate the birth of the United States, let us also celebrate the friends we have in Denmark and the founding democratic principles that have given us the liberty and prosperity that we all enjoy.  Let us remember that we cannot take these democratic values for granted.  We must protect them and advocate for them.

Thank you for welcoming me to your country during my time as Ambassador.  It has been my honor and privilege to work on strengthening the U.S.- Kingdom of Denmark relationship.  I am happy that our cooperation is deeper than before I arrived, and I will always hold my time in Denmark close to my heart.  Thank you.