Speaking at a foreign policy forum in Berlin on Tuesday, Sigmar Gabriel said “the global dominance of the United States is slowly becoming history.” He noted that the “withdrawal of the United States under Donald Trump from its reliable role as a guarantor of western-led multilateralism accelerates a change of the world order with immediate consequences for German and European interests.”
“Germany can no longer simply react to US policy but must establish its own position… even after Trump leaves the White House, relations with the US will never be the same,” Gabriel is cited as saying.
Gabriel accused the US of “no longer see(ing) the world as a global community, but as a fighting arena where everyone has to seek their own advantage,” Deutsche Welle reported. However, he noted that Europe has to step up to the plate and more strictly define its interests in order to be a major global player.
“As the US has withdrawn from the international stage, nobody has turned to the European Union,” Gabriel said. He claimed the bloc no longer stands for a specific set of values, and accused its members of treating the EU “as if they have a second one in their hip pocket.”
“We have to describe our own positions and, if necessary, draw red lines” which would be “based on our own interests,” he said, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Gabriel said that although the US will remain Europe’s closest ally, differences with Washington need to be addressed and dealt with in strict terms, AP reported. He cited controversial moves by Washington, including sanctions on Russia which threaten European energy companies, and the increased risk of war if the Iran nuclear deal – dubbed the “worst deal ever negotiated” by Trump – collapses. He also noted the possibility of conflict in the Middle East if Trump recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“Today, this world has become far more uncomfortable and long since we realize that even with great economic prosperity, there is no comfortable place on the sidelines of international politics for us, neither for us Germans nor for us Europeans,” Gabriel said.
The foreign minister also said that he sees Germany and France as being the two driving forces in Europe. He added that he would like to see the French “become a bit more German” in financial matters, and Germany to “become more French in security matters.”
Gabriel’s Tuesday comments come after German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a similar statement earlier this year. “We Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands, of course in friendship with the United States, in friendship with Great Britain, with good neighborly relations wherever possible, also with Russia and other countries – but we have to know that we have to fight for our future and our fate ourselves as Europeans,” she said following the G7 summit in May.