Speaking at the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) on March 9, 2016, Danish Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen spoke to the threats in Europe’s neighborhood, noting “foreign politics needs to be a balance between idealism and cynicism.” As a part of the ongoing Transatlantic Talks series, Jensen, who is also an alumnus of GMF’s Marshall Memorial Fellowship, discussed the confluence of challenges facing Europe. GMF President Karen Donfried moderated the discussion.
When considering Denmark’s role in the ongoing coalition against the self-proclaimed Islamic State group (Daesh), Jensen indicated “Denmark is, of all the European countries per capita, the country contributing the most to the fight against Daesh.” While Daesh has been pushed back, Jensen noted that more must be done. As a result, Denmark is “stepping up in all military campaigns,” as the self-proclaimed Islamic State group is not only a threat to Iraq and Syria, but also to countries in the surrounding region, Europe, and Denmark.
Regarding the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, Jensen stated that Russia is trying to force a “grand bargain” with the United States and Europe that would involve resolving both conflicts in Syria and Ukraine. Noting that borders have only been moved with a “pen and ballot” ever since the end of World War II, Jensen expressed concern that the international community is beginning to forget about Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula. Given that Russia continues its aggression in eastern Ukraine, Jensen stressed that Ukraine must continue to make political and economic reforms to fulfill its obligations under the Minsk Agreement. Moreover, he indicated “we must fight for Ukraine and allow them to decide who should govern.”
Turning next to the EU’s increased engagement with Turkey, Jensen underscored that “we need Turkey as a partner in many ways, just like the U.S. needs Turkey as a partner in the fight against Daesh.” Jensen highlighted that further negotiations with Turkey will allow for them to confront the many of the pressing issues facing Europe.
While Jensen indicated his belief that Europe is failing to provide common ground on the refugee crisis, he expressed his belief that Europe will come together and find a common agreement. In terms of the U.S role in supporting the EU during these crises, Jensen suggested the United States should oppose the British referendum to exit the EU and commit more diplomatic resources toward the completion of TTIP.
GMF’s Transatlantic Talks series pairs high-level government officials from one side of the Atlantic with journalists from the other side to discuss the issues most relevant to the transatlantic community. The wide-ranging series centers on foreign and security policy issues and questions immediately facing the transatlantic partnership. The on-the-record discussion format provides a platform for a moderated back-and-forth conversation between government officials, journalists, and the policy/think-tank community.