Denmark Signs Historic Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States

Denmark has entered into a significant defense cooperation agreement (DCA) with the United States. In a press conference on December 19, 2023, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen underscored the importance of the alliance with the United States and NATO for Denmark's security. She stated that the role of the United States and NATO as Denmark's security guarantors has become increasingly clear in light of recent global developments. 

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The DCA allows US forces to use three Royal Danish Air Force bases in Karup, Skrydstrup, and Aalborg for varying durations. The agreement does not extend to the Faroe Islands and Greenland, although the latter hosts the Pituffik Space Base, a key missile warning sensors facility and the US Armed Forces' northernmost installation, under a separate agreement. Danish Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen hailed the DCA as a historic event, and Danish Foreign Minister Lars L√łkke Rasmussen stressed the need for a strong bilateral relationship with the United States in these uncertain and confrontational times. 

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Denmark is the fourth Scandinavian country to sign a DCA with the United States, following Norway in 2021, Sweden on December 5, 2023, and Finland on December 18, 2023. The agreement will take effect once both parties complete their internal processes. The Danish Parliament, the Folketing, must review and approve the agreement. In Sweden, the DCA sparked parliamentary debate, particularly regarding the legal status of deployed US forces. In Denmark, Prime Minister Frederiksen clarified that US authorities would generally prosecute crimes committed by their service members, even if they occur off base and during their free time. 

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The geopolitical landscape, particularly Russia's invasion of Ukraine, has led Denmark to reevaluate its defense policies. In addition to the DCA with the United States, Denmark has renounced the defense exemption clause it obtained during the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. Sweden and Finland, Denmark's neighbors, have both sought expedited NATO membership following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Finland officially joined the alliance on April 4, 2023, while Sweden awaits Turkey's approval of its membership, which is contingent on the US sale of F-16 fighters. Both Finland and Sweden are considering the possibility of hosting nuclear bombs as part of the NATO nuclear-sharing arrangement to enhance their air defense capabilities.

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