Uffe Ellemann-Jensen

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Uffe Ellemann-Jensen
Uffe Ellemann-Jensen.jpg
Foreign Minister
In office
10 September 1982 – 25 January 1993
Prime MinisterPoul Schlüter
Preceded byKjeld Olesen
Succeeded byNiels Helveg Petersen
Leader of Venstre
In office
23 July 1984 – 18 March 1998
Preceded byHenning Christophersen
Succeeded byAnders Fogh Rasmussen
President of the European Liberals
In office
Preceded byWilly De Clercq
Succeeded byWerner Hoyer
Personal details
Born (1941-11-01) 1 November 1941 (age 79)
Haarby, Denmark
Political partyVenstre
Spouse(s)Hanne Jonsen (1963–1971)
Alice Vestergaard [da] (1971–present)

Uffe Ellemann-Jensen (Danish pronunciation: [ˈufə ˈeləmæn ˈjensn̩], informal: [ˈufə ˈeləˌmænˀ] (born 1 November 1941) was Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark in the Conservative led Poul Schlüter Administration 1982–1993. He was leader of the Danish Liberal Party, Venstre 1984–1998 and President of the European Liberals 1995–2000.

Since 1998, Ellemann-Jensen has been Chairman of Baltic Development Forum, a non-profit networking organisation dedicated to the business development of the Baltic Sea region. He is non-executive director of various boards of international companies.

Political career[edit]

Uffe Ellemann-Jensen (at the left) in 1993.

A strong supporter of NATO and the European Union based upon his belief in Western cohesion led to many political battles with the left-wing opposition. Several times the opposition tried to topple him on issues of solidarity within NATO, but he survived. Uffe Ellemann-Jensen succeeded in convincing a majority in the Danish Parliament, Folketinget, to actively support the US led coalition against Iraq during the Gulf War. Furthermore, he led the Danish recognition of the renewed independence of the three Baltic countries in 1991, when Denmark was the first country to re-establish diplomatic relations with the three countries. In 1992, Ellemann-Jensen, together with his German colleague Hans-Dietrich Genscher, took the initiative to create the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) and the EuroFaculty.[1]

In September 1992, Ellemann-Jensen and other senior officials visited southern Somalia, one of the first foreign delegations to do so since the start of civil war there the year before.[2]

After the fall of the centre-right government, in which he also served as Deputy Prime Minister, in 1993 following the Tamil case, outgoing prime minister Poul Schlüter attempted to have Ellemann-Jensen appointed acting prime minister until Henning Dyremose (Conservative) could take over, but the attempt was dropped as royal cabinet secretary Niels Eilschou Holm considered the maneuver unconstitutional. Instead, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen (Social Democrats) was appointed prime minister following a "Queen's round", and Ellemann-Jensen became leader of the opposition.[3]

Ellemann-Jensen was leader of the opposition until the 1998 general election, which he lost with a single seat. Had his party had only 85 more votes, he would have been able to form a new centre-right government as Prime Minister. He decided then to leave politics and his successor as the leader of Venstre was Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who became Prime Minister of Denmark in 2001.

The new active Danish foreign policy continued after Ellemann-Jensen's 10 years term as Foreign Minister and ultimately became a turning point in Danish foreign and defence policy. It has since become known as the Ellemann-Jensen doctrine.

In 1995, Ellemann-Jensen was a candidate for the post of Secretary-General of NATO when Willy Claes was forced to leave the role. He got the support of the U.S. government, but France blocked his candidature, preferring the Spanish candidate, Javier Solana. Ellemann-Jensen never tried to hide his disappointment with not getting the post that he had wanted all his political life.

He participated eight times in the Bilderberg conferences: 1984, 1987 and every year between 1993 and 1998.

Since leaving politics, Ellemann-Jensen has become a columnist with the Danish daily Berlingske Tidende and a contributor to Project Syndicate.

Ellemann-Jensen became a central figure in the controversy following the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten's decision to print 12 satirical images of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in September 2005. In his column, only days after the cartoons were printed, he argued that he thought the cartoons represented an "unnecessary provocation", believing they constituted in itself a caricature of Denmark's "cherished freedom of expression". Ellemann-Jensen remained that position all through the controversy at the same time never missing an opportunity to support the Danish Prime Minister's stance that the government could not and should not take punitive action against the newspaper.

Personal life[edit]

Uffe Ellemann-Jensen is the son of former member of the Folketing Jens Peter Jensen [da]. In 1971, his first marriage was dissolved and he married Alice Vestergaard [da]. He has four children, among them Jakob Ellemann-Jensen and Karen Ellemann.

Ellemann-Jensen has always been protective of his private life. However, it is well known that he is an avid hunter and fly fisher, as well as the author of several best-selling books. Especially those about his time as Foreign Minister and the Cold War have gained him broad recognition and critical respect.[citation needed]

On 18 December 2002, Ellemann-Jensen was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Dannebrog. It is very unusual for a politician in Denmark not having been Prime Minister to be awarded the Grand Cross.

On 12 February 2010, Ellemann-Jensen received the highest accolade of the Republic of Macedonia, the 8th of September Order for his contribution to the strengthening of Danish-Macedonian relations and for promotion of Macedonia in its initial years of independence in the early 1990s.


  • De nye millionærer (The new millionaires), 1971
  • Det afhængige samfund (The dependent society), 1972
  • Hvad gør vi ved Gudenåen? (What should we do about Gudenåen), 1973
  • Den truede velstand (The threatened wealth), 1974
  • Økonomi (Economy), 1975
  • Da Danmark igen sagde ja til det fælles (When Denmark once more said yes to the common), 1987
  • Et lille land, og dog (A small country, or perhaps not), 1991
  • Olfert Fischer i Golfen (Olfert Fischer in the Gulf), 1991, with Sv. E. Thiede
  • Din egen dag er kort (Your own day is short), 1996
  • Rent ud sagt – indfald og udfald (Plainly spoken – ideas and attacks), 1997
  • Sådan set (In a manner of speaking), 1997 with Erik Werner
  • EU – derfor (EU – the reason), 1998
  • Ude med snøren (Having the fishing line out), 2001
  • Østen for solen (East of the sun), 2002
  • FODfejl (Stepping in it), 2004
  • Ude med snøren – fisk og mennesker jeg har mødt, 2004, ISBN 8700497169, autobiography featuring recreational fishing
  • Vejen, jeg valgte, 2009, ISBN 8703028925
  • Nu gik det lige så godt, men så gik verden af lave, 2009, ISBN 8702080885, about the effects of the 2008 financial crisis

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Kjeld Olesen
Foreign Minister of Denmark
10 September 1982 – 25 January 1993
Succeeded by
Niels Helveg Petersen
Party political offices
Preceded by
Henning Christophersen
Leader of Venstre
Succeeded by
Anders Fogh Rasmussen


  1. ^ Gustav N Kristensen, Born into a Dream. EuroFaculty and the Council of the Baltic Sea States, Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag 2010, ISBN 978-3-8305-1769-6.
  2. ^ Stuart, Mark (1998). Douglas Hurd: The Public Servant: An Authorised Biography. Mainstream Publishing Company, Limited. p. 410. ISBN 1840181257.
  3. ^ Klarskov, Kristian (26 May 2020). "Da ambassadøren måtte råbe ad USA: »Hm, det var ikke helt oppe i 'fuck', vel. Men det var noget i retning af: 'Hvad fanden tænker I på?«". Politiken (in Danish). Retrieved 26 May 2020.