Published: Tue, May 30, 2017
National | By Rosalie Gross

German FM says Trump has 'weakened' the West

German Chancellor Angela Merkel talks with U.S. President Donald Trump as they attend the Summit of the Heads of State and of Government of the G7, the group of most industrialized economies, plus the European Union, on May 26, 2017 in Taormina, Sicily. Merkel and Modi are also expected to discuss climate change, a key concern for Germany, which has pitted it against the United States.

Berlin remains committed to strong trans-Atlantic relations, but Chancellor Angela Merkel's suggestion after meetings with President Donald Trump that Europe can no longer entirely rely on the U.S. Commentators in Germany fretted that Mrs Merkel had pronounced the end of the post-war system of United States and British engagement with Europe after her initial encounters with Donald Trump and Theresa May.

Gabriel went on to claim the West had become "weaker", if not "smaller" under the policies of the Trump administration.

The dramatic announcement came after contentious meetings with Trump, who had used his first official trip to Europe to criticize German trade, scold world leaders about their North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spending and refuse to commit to the Paris agreement on combating climate change. "The times when we could fully rely on others are a bit finished", she told a crowd of her supporters in Munich.

"And so all I can say is that we Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands", she said, according to the dpa news agency. We are still dependent on the USA for our most basic need (security) and that's not going to change anytime soon.

Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert said Monday Merkel's comments stand for themselves but the German leader is "a convinced trans-Atlanticist".

Stephan Mayer, an MP and spokesperson for Merkel's CDU party, told CBC Radio's As It Happens, "It was not only the German public and the German citizens who she addressed; she also addressed the USA administration".

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Such comments suggest that Trump's reputation in Europe may end up influencing the continent's politics in unexpected ways.

The relationship between Merkel and Trump contrasts with the warm ties between her and former U.S. president Barack Obama - who last week travelled to Berlin to attend a key Protestant conference. "Particularly in view of the complexity of global contexts, a wish for simple answers spreads".

Some have gone so far as to say that Merkel's comments were "era-defining", that she was turning her back on transatlantic ties that have shaped global relations since the end of the Second World War.

Days earlier, in Saudi Arabia, Trump had presided over the single largest United States arms deal in American history, worth $110 billion over the next decade and including ships, tanks and anti-missile systems.

On Monday, AFP also quoted Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel as saying that Trump's actions had "weakened" the West.

Trump's firm refusal to commit to the Paris climate deal at the G7 summit in Italy on Saturday - along with his description of Germany as "very bad on trade" - may also have contributed to Merkel switching the rhetoric up a notch.

"Those of you who have reported on the chancellor for a long time will know how important German-American relations are to her", he said.

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