Europe must defend ‘liberal world order,’ limit Chinese & Russian influence – German minister
"If the United States is starting to take a skeptical view of its role as the guardian of global order – and we've already seen hints of this in recent years – then I would see this as a call to action directed at Europe, including Germany," Schaeuble said in a speech at the American Academy in Berlin, a think tank that promotes US-German ties.
He went on to state that China and Russia should not be allowed to step up to the plate when it comes to "filling the gaps left by the US."
“I doubt whether the United States truly believes that the world order would be equally sound if China or Russia were to fill the gaps left by the US, and if China and Russia were simply given a free hand to dominate the spheres of influence that they have defined for themselves,” Schaeuble said during the Tuesday speech.
“That would be the end of our liberal world order. This order is still the best of all possible worlds [and] it does not matter if you look at it from ethical, political or economic [points of view]. And we want this order to keep moving forward, or at least not see it weakened," he continued.
Russian President Vladimir Putin previously slammed Washington in 2015 for "attempts to create a unipolar world," implying that the US is attempting to dominate world affairs.
However, he told Russian TV channel NTV in 2016 that "attempts to create a unipolar world failed," and that the "world balance" was "gradually being restored."
“But this is inevitable! Attempts to create a unipolar world have not succeeded. We are living in a different dimension. Russia has always held this point of view – that, while protecting our national interests, we must respect the interests of other countries. So, this is the way we establish relations with other countries," Putin said at the time.
Schaeuble's statements come after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said last month that Europe could no longer completely rely on its allies.
"The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out. I've experienced that in the last few days," she told a crowd at an election rally in Munich.
The German leader noted that it is time for Europe “to take our destiny in our own hands," advocating for the continent to become a larger player in global affairs.
One of the biggest points of contention between Germany and the US is President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, which Merkel described as “extremely regrettable” during a speech in Berlin.