Germany steps up attack on Trump for 'weakening' the west
Germany has unleashed a volley of criticism against Donald Trump, slamming his “short-sighted” policies that have “weakened the west” and hurt European interests.
The sharp words from foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel came after the US president concluded his first official tour abroad taking in Saudi Arabia, Israel, Brussels and then Italy for a G7 summit.
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, warned on Sunday that the US and Britain may no longer be completely reliable partners.
Germany’s exasperation was laid bare after the G7 summit, which wrapped up on Saturday with Trump refusing to affirm US support for the 2015 Paris climate accord.
Days earlier, in Saudi Arabia, Trump presided over the single largest US arms deal in American history, worth $110bn over the next decade and including ships, tanks and anti-missile systems.
Gabriel said on Monday that “anyone who accelerates climate change by weakening environmental protection, who sells more weapons in conflict zones and who does not want to politically resolve religious conflicts is putting peace in Europe at risk”.
“The short-sighted policies of the American government stand against the interests of the European Union,” he said, judging that “the west has become smaller, at least it has become weaker”.
“We Europeans must fight for more climate protection, fewer weapons and against religious [fanaticism], otherwise the Middle East and Africa will be further destabilised,” Gabriel said.
Germany’s harsh words for Washington, traditionally a close ally, were highly unusual and came as relations grow increasingly frosty.
When Trump was inaugurated in January, Merkel had told the billionaire and former reality TV show star that cooperation would be on the basis of shared democratic values.
The relationship between Merkel and Trump contrasts with the warm ties between herself and Barack Obama.
The previous US president last week travelled to Berlin to attend a key Protestant conference.
Obama’s participation in a forum with Merkel last Thursday came hours before her meeting with Trump in Brussels at the Nato summit.
At the alliance’s meeting on Thursday, Trump lambasted 23 of the its 28 members – including Germany – for “still not paying what they should be paying” towards the funding of the bloc.
After the Nato and G7 summits, Merkel said at an election rally in southern Germany that “the times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out.
I’ve experienced that in the last few days.”
“We, the Europeans, will have to take our fate into our own hands.
Our friendship with the US, the UK, our neighbourly relationship with Russia and also with other countries count, of course. But we must know, we have to fight for our own future,” she said.
In response to Merkel’s comments, Britain said it would be a “strong partner” to Germany.
“As we begin the negotiations about leaving the EU, we will be able to reassure Germany and other European countries that we are going to be a strong partner to them in defence and security and, we hope, in trade,” Britain’s home secretary, Amber Rudd, told BBC radio.
“We can reassure Mrs Merkel that we want to have a deep and special partnership so that we can continue to maintain European-wide security to keep us all safe from the terrorists abroad and those that are trying to be nurtured in our country,” she said.
Separately, France’s defence minister Sylvie Goulard said that Trump’s broadside at Nato allies could boost efforts toward a common European defence policy.
“At a time when we want to take steps forward for Europe and its defence, it is a spur,” said Goulard.