Berlingske, Sunday, January 17, 2021
Inside headline: SHE HAS BEEN TRUMP’S LOYAL SUPPORTER IN DENMARK
Intro: Carla Sands started off with the ambition of making the Danes appreciate the American president, but that mission was unsuccessful. On the other hand, she is one of the most distinctive US Ambassadors to Denmark and someone who has made a difference in Greenland. Now she is standing down at the same time as Donald Trump.The American Ambassador to Denmark, Carla Sands, welcomes us to her impressive villa, Rydhave, on Strandvejen.It is her last week in office before she, after three years, resigns her position as Donald Trump’s ambassador. That is what she is known for: Being Trump’s loyal supporter in every situation. And even though, according to Ambassador Sands herself, they have been three wonderful years, she has been the most controversial American ambassador that Denmark has ever had. Hereat the finish line, she has in addition, become the first American ambassador on record to have received a protest note from the Danish Foreign Minister, Jeppe Kofod, in connection with the storming of Congress and Trump’s part in that. That is not something particularly nice to have in her suitcase, but her period as ambassador has also included a success: She has put Greenland on the international map. CarlaSands leaves Denmark on January 20 to return to Pennsylvania where she comes from originally. She has had the unenviable job of explaining Donald Trump’s policies to the Danes and, of course, fostering connectionswith the Danish business community and politicians. The latter has been rather heavy going. In fact, not many politicians have anything good to say about her boss. But, she succeeded in nurturing ties with the business community, so that today, the US is just as important a trading partner for Denmark as Germany.The thing about Trump is, he has been a difficult sell, and in particular, his very bombastic remarks about buying Greenland have not been easy to translate into political reality.But if Sands deserves credit for one thing in particular, it has been that she has developed closer tieswith Denmark, Greenland and the Faroes with the opening of a Consulate in the Greenlandic capital, Nuuk, and she has helped to establish close and ongoing, military, political and commercial relations.But, back to Trump. Sands clearly finds it difficult to find the right words when trying to discuss Trump’s role in the storming of Congress.“It’s so disappointing to see what happened. I’m so sad. Democracy is strong, though, and we’re going to come through this.We support, as do other democratic societies, the right to peacefully protest. But violent protests are never okay,” she said, referring to the riot that took place inside Congress.
But do you think that Donald Trump was responsible for what happened in Congress?“Well, I listened to his speech, which sadly, social media has taken down, because now people can make things up. In his speech, he told his supporters to peacefully protest, and so I do not believe that he incited violence in any way. I haven’t heard him say it, but I have heard it reported, that he has said that he does feel that he bears some responsibility for what happened that day,” Carla Sands said.And do you think the same?”I was not there. I do not feel I am qualified to say whether he was responsible. I’m not a legal expert. I only know what I have seen in the news, just like other Danes,”says Carla Sands.Election FraudCarla Sands also attempted to play-down the controversy regarding election fraud.“There were election irregularities, there were” she said. Q: But there always are?“Yes, but the sad thing is for some people in some states, they did not feel that their voices were heard. The cases weren’t heard, the legislatures were not able to do what they had a right legally to do because of either governors or other legal framework. What I know is that democracy is fragile (sic). Everybody wants their vote to count and no illegal vote should count. So, my belief is that there will be a legal investigation and we will get to the bottom of what happened and how to make it better next time,”she said, adding when Berlingske asked a number of follow-up questions: “I don’t want to talk about my personal views. I want to talk about how I represent the United States government and all the American people. I am not here as a political person, I am here to represent democracy in the United States,” Sands said.“We have elected a new president and vice-president. We’re moving forward and the Congress will support them.Now we are in the process of getting the vaccine distributed widely and rescuing the economy. So we can get our people back to work, our restaurants and shops back open –so we can heal economically,” she said, and thereby ended our conversation about the storming of Congress and allegations of election fraud. There can be no question that it has been an uphill battle, sometimes a chaotic one, as the result of Trump’s very direct approach to the Western security alliance, NATO, and his threats to withdraw the US from the organization if Europeans did not pay more to common defense.
Carla Sand has, during her time in Denmark, developed a close relationship with the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo and his wife, she explained. And, it appears, that Carla Sands has easy access to the highest echelons within the State Department, not least because Greenland has renewed interest in the Arctic region. Under her leadership, the US has developed close cooperation with Denmark regarding Greenland and the Faroe Islands. A consulate has been opened in Greenland. A new agreement has been signed regarding the Thule Base maintenance contract, that in the future will presumably be awarded to a Greenlandic rather than an American company –even though this might take some time. Exchange programs with young Greenlandic students are in the pipeline. Cooperation is being expanded in the areas of fishery and mining. In short, right now it looks like robust development is taking place.But, before all this got moving, Donald Trump, with his special ability to put his foot in it, remarked that he wanted to buy Greenland –an astonishing announcement that sent the foreign ministry into overdrive. “It was a tense situation, I can’t deny that, but the fact is because of what he said, and this happens sometimes in difficult situations, the Visit Greenland site crashed, there was so much interest in going and visiting Greenland, everything we wanted to talk about was suddenly okay to talk about because the most serious and shocking thing had been talked about. Remember, President Trump was the third American president to make this offer, and the last one was in the mid-twentieth century. So, there is precedent for it,” Carla Sands said.Q: So, you believe that as the result of the shockwave from Washington regarding the purchase offer that it presented an opportunity to open up the discussion?“I think it increased our opportunity, our window, if you will. It opened it further. I had meetings that same week with Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, here in Copenhagen and they were fantastic. We didn’t skip a beat in our close cooperation with the government here in Copenhagen. We never paused, and I would say today we are stronger because of that, sort of, unusual occurrence.” DIVISION IN THE USNow Carla Sands is returning to the US as a private citizen. The developments that are occurring in the US are a matter of grave concern to her. She is clearly worried by divisions in the US, but also about freedom of speech that she says is under threat from censorship on social media.“My hope is that through the government, through legislature on both sides of the aisle, they will come to some rules of the road that preserve the freedom of speech. We need open dialog. The reason is I used to look at these firms (social media, Ed.) as private companies, who have the right to do what they want,” she said.“But now I look at it differently and say no. Social media is an open forum where everyone needs to be able to have voice, because otherwise we have only one story and the rest of the stories are untold. In this case, suppressing half of the voices in the United States could lead to us down a dead-end. We must to able to have dialog,” Carla Sands, who is worried by the fact that social media is closing people’s Twitter accounts, said. “We see it on college campuses too in the United States where there’s a loss of freedom of speech and that’s really been happening for maybe fifteen years, or more,” she said referring to the fact that many university students can demand that they are exempted from being exposed to hearing attitudes and opinions that do not fit with their own reality.But concerns about the future in the US exist because American society has also changed over the last three years while Carla Sands has been Ambassador in Copenhagen. One thing she is certain about is, however, that in 15-year’s time we will view Trump very differently than we do today. “Danes never like Republican presidents until many years after they have left office,” she said. Clearly, she is referring to Ronald Reagan but it is unclear whether she thinks Trump will be just as influential. But, she emphasizes the fact that he has been an outstanding boss: “He has always supported his ambassadors. “He has always supported his ambassadors. He helped us be successful; he gave us the tools we needed, he didn’t micro-manage us,” she said. There is absolutely no doubt that Sands will be remembered as a strong ambassador regardless of whether or not one agrees with her way of doing business. Her efforts to forge connections with the entire kingdom have planted the seed of an alliance with the US. The question is now how we move forward with a new president. CARLASANDS’ CONTROVERSIAL CASESAUGUST 2019.The American president offered to buy Greenland. Carla Sands holds several meetings with the Danish government to resolve the situation.DECEMBER 2019. Carla Sands falls out with the Danish academic community when she vetoes the participation of the American expert, Stanley Sloan, at a NATO Association conference. Sloan is a Trump critic and the US Embassy is the conference’s co-sponsor.NOVEMBER 2020. Carla Sands claims on Twitter –in order to support Trump’s allegations of election fraud–that her ballot was never registered inPennsylvania. It was later shown that this was not the case and that her vote was registered.JANUAR 2021. Carla Sands receives a protest from the Foreign Minister, Jeppe Kofod, regarding the storming of Congress. This is the first time ever that a sitting foreign minister has ever protested about internal American affairs.