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18 Jan, 2017 16:45

EU needs ‘strong foreign & domestic policy’ whoever US leader is – Austrian FM to RT

The European Union should maintain a “strong” and “independent” approach in foreign and domestic policy, regardless of who the current US President is, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz told RT.

The official spoke following a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in which they discussed ties between the EU and Moscow.

“I think that there is a need for a strong and independent policy of the European Union. That is independent of who is currently the US president in Washington,” Kurz told RT.

The statement comes at a time when US President-elect Donald Trump has made several critical statements regarding the EU and NATO.

In Sunday’s joint  with German Bild and The Times of London, Trump raised questions over the necessity of the military bloc, which includes many EU states.

NATO “was obsolete, because it was designed many, many years ago,” Trump said, noting that the alliance “had problems.”

He was also critical of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying “she made one very catastrophic mistake” in letting the “illegals” in without knowing “where they come from.” He also alleged the EU is being used by Berlin as an instrument to beat Washington in the international trade arena, and once again praised the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

Speaking to RT, Kurz said many of the EU’s problems, “like the refugee and migration issues, are the challenges that were known before the election of Donald Trump.”
He noted that the EU and US will maintain a good partnership.

“I believe too that there will be good relations between the EU and the US in the future. There will certainly be a good cooperation.”

The Foreign Minister stressed, however, that even given a close, functioning partnership with Washington, “it does contradict my basic idea that Europe should have a strong, independent foreign policy and domestic policy.”

Kurz also spoke on the rise of populist and right-wing parties in Europe.

“I believe there is a worldwide trend that many are often dissatisfied with existing political systems and parties. And people here who stand for a certain change, who are fresher in their approaches, who bring new ideas in principle, have a competitive advantage,” he told RT, adding that the “well-established” parties can manage the challenge if they “reinvent themselves.” As Austria is chairing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) this year, Kurz noted he would do his best “to lessen the tension we have here between East and West.”

“We should gradually get the ‘bloc’ mentality that has emerged since the Ukraine crisis into the history books, because that’s where it belongs,” he said.