QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, welcome to Denmark. I hope that you are enjoying our country.
SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s been a great visit, Johannes. Thanks for having me.
QUESTION: Great to hear that. We have limited time, sir, so please allow me to jump to my first question. Last year President Trump expressed an interest in buying Greenland, and we all remember the fuss that that created. But now you’re reopening a consulate in Greenland and you’re offering millions of dollars in aid. Mr. Secretary, what are the U.S. intentions in Greenland?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, we had a great conversation today on this very topic with frankly all three foreign ministers – the foreign minister of Denmark, the foreign minister of Greenland, and the Faroe Islands as well. We have an important relationship with the Kingdom of Denmark, and the three of us together are working on making sure that we get national security right for everyone. So we have Thule Air Force Base. We want to make sure we get that right for the people of Greenland. Everyone knows the challenges that are presented. We want to make sure that the Arctic is peaceful and that activity in that region is handled in the appropriate way. It’s important that all three of us, the Kingdom of Denmark, the United States, all of us work together to deliver that. That’s our objective.
QUESTION: But are you now just trying a softer approach but with the same end goal?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Our goal is very clear. We’ve been up front about it. We want to make sure that there’s a prosperous, safe, and secure Faroe Islands, Greenland. We want Denmark to do well. We’re – I’m happy to be here today with the Kingdom of Denmark, and the people here – they’ve been just great to me.
QUESTION: So you’re not in the market for Arctic islands anymore?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We’re trying to get prosperity and security for our good friends here.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, your visit to Denmark is the last of only two stops here in Europe, and as much as we love to host you, and please do come back anytime, it seems remarkable though that you honor us with a visit. What makes you come here? Are the American interests in the Arctic so important that you need to come here and charm us?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well look, I think it’s certainly the case that these are important interests. We also have a great partner with Denmark. I came here once in my previous role. This is the second time in the administration I’ve been here. I hope I’ll get back. But the interests are – we share a set of values, a set of understandings about the world that are so important. The people of Denmark too have served alongside of us for now two decades in Afghanistan. Your country is soon to take over as the NATO mission commander in Iraq. I wanted to thank them for that and talk a little bit about what we ought to be able to do together to make sure that we can continue to fight terrorism in Iraq. So there were many things we came to talk about today.
I certainly wanted to make sure, as I do when I travel throughout Europe, that I express my concerns about what the Chinese Communist Party is up to in the region. And so we had a broad range of things – certainly bilateral issues, trade and the like between our two countries. I want more Danish investment in the United States and vice versa. We want to get that right. We want to get travel back open between the two countries. But we also had geostrategic items that we wanted to talk about, so – and we covered the full range both with the prime minister and the foreign minister.
QUESTION: You mentioned China. China, Russia have been more active in the active in the Arctic region, aggressive even. Have the U.S. been too hesitant in securing your interests in that region?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, I think we all have been naive. When I say all of us, I mean those of us who desire peace and freedom and democracy, who believe in the rule of law, who understand international laws to actually mean something. I think we’ve all been a little bit naive to watch not only the Russians but the Chinese interests there competing to become more and more aggressive. We have a responsibility for our people to make sure that we respond in a way that is appropriate, to do everything we can to make sure that the environment there is taken care of, to make sure that this doesn’t become another place for battle. But if it’s chosen by our adversaries, if they choose to go compete there, we can’t just turn the other cheek. We better make sure that we respond in a way that increases prosperity and security for the United States and for the people of Denmark.
QUESTION: So when you say naive, Mr. Secretary, are you a bit late to the party in the Arctic?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yup, we’re a little late.
QUESTION: But does it —
SECRETARY POMPEO: That’s all right. I’ve been late to parties before and had a great time. (Laughter.) We’ll succeed. I believe deeply the Western value sets that we have, the – this fundamental idea that we can be transparent and open, and we can build a robust economy and still maintain security. We’ll deliver on that. We’ll deliver that in the Arctic; we’ll deliver this in countering Russia as part of NATO. The transatlantic alliance is real and powerful, and in spite of the fact that we weren’t there at the beginning, we’ll all be there collectively to make sure that we get it right.
QUESTION: Let’s move on to talk about our nation’s relationship. Many Danes, many Europeans, myself included, have very warm feelings for the United States, for Americans, but with President Trump speaking in favor of a hard Brexit for European disintegration, respectfully, why should Europe trust the U.S. administration these days?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Every nation makes its own sovereign decision, including the United Kingdom and Denmark and every European country. The United States is an enormous partner in the transatlantic alliance. We remain the largest contributor to NATO. We continue to provide humanitarian assistance to countries all across the world, many of which are – the Europeans are direct beneficiaries of. The United States is a fully engaged partner all across the world. That’s even truer under the Trump administration.
QUESTION: But can you, sir, unequivocally say that you support the EU as a political project?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes, of course. But make no mistake about it, just like with every other trading partner, we want to make sure that the conduct between those entities, whether it’s a member state or the EU – you all get to make decisions; we’ll make them too – we want to make sure that, for example, on trade, that it’s conducted in a way that is fair and reciprocal. If you have access to American markets, we ought to have access to the member states’ markets as well. Those are the foundations of democracy and freedom. That’s all President Trump has ever asked for, right? With NATO, he simply said, hey, let’s make sure we get it right, that those of you who are here on the continent are doing the right thing to make sure you’re providing for your own security – right, you, each nation made a commitment to spend 2 percent of its GDP to protect itself as a member of NATO. We’re simply asking you to live up to the commitments that you each make, and to have a collective security alliance.
We’re very confident. The United States will be right there alongside you.
QUESTION: That sounds good. But speaking of NATO, Mr. Secretary, we see the U.S. withdrawing from multilateral bodies such as the WHO; we’re yet to see if you’re going to stick with the WTO; you pulled out of the Paris climate deal. The President oftentimes speaks harshly about NATO, the UN. Why pull the U.S. away from its allies at a time when you’re obviously seeking to build relationships to counter Russia, to counter China?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Your predicate is just wrong. Your predicate is just wrong. Those institutions need to be fit for purpose, and that’s been President Trump’s direction: make them functional. Make them work. Deliver on the commitments, right. Every one of those countries promised that it would spend 2 percent of its GDP; they haven’t lived up to that. The United States spends somewhere between 3.5 and 5.5 percent depending on the year. It’s a simple expectation that these institutions will function. It’s absolutely true. President Trump – and I agree with him wholeheartedly – multilateral institutions for the sake of the institution? If it’s not working, if it doesn’t deliver on the promises it made, then we all need to re-evaluate. We all need to say, hey, look, this organization was formed for a particular purpose, it’s not serving it, let’s find a better way to do it.
I’ll give you the example that you raised. You raised the WHO. It’s become political. It’s become corrupt. It failed to perform the mission that it was chartered to do. An epidemic broke out, killing hundreds of thousands of people all across the world. Trillions of dollars lost in economic wealth. All as a direct result of the Chinese Communist Party covering up and doing it with a complicit World Health Organization. That’s not an organization that the United States wants to spend roughly half a billion dollars a year supporting. We want to support institutions that are functional and work, and we’ll make sure that we do our part to make sure that each of those institutions does just that.
QUESTION: Time is running out, but please allow me one final question about the upcoming presidential election. What can Europe expect should President Trump secure a second term? Is it going to be more “America first,” or will you pull Europe closer?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Those aren’t contradictory.
SECRETARY POMPEO: They’re not contradictory. We expect Denmark to be “Denmark first.” We expect every nation to do their duty, right. Your prime minister’s responsibility is to the people of Denmark first and foremost. We expect her to execute that with enormous vigor, in the same way that we do for our people. We want every country to understand that they’re a sovereign nation and their first responsibility is to take care of their people.
We also understand that when we work together, we can improve the lives of Americans, and that’s what you see. You see us working with partners. We’ve built out a coalition of 60 nations to take on the challenge that no one else would lead on in Venezuela, people suffering under the Maduro regime. We built out a coalition to try and get North Korea to denuclearize. Every country signed on to a set of UN Security Council resolutions that are amazing. Ninety countries helping us to defeat ISIS.
No, the Trump administration is proud of our effort to work with our partners to achieve real – and it’s not about talking, it’s not about having coffee and sitting in a nice room in Brussels, it’s about executing important national security functions that benefit the people of the United States and our friends and allies as well. That’s what we’ve done, and you expect if President Trump’s reelection – reelected, that’s what we’ll continue to do.
MS ORTAGUS: Thank you so much. We’ve got to go.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, it’s been a great pleasure. Thank you so much for talking with us, and I wish you safe travels back to the United States.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Johannes, thank you very much, sir.