‘Is he the PR guy for the alt-right?’ German MP says US ambassador's comments echo pre-WWII era
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) lawmaker Andreas Nick became the latest politician to respond to comments made by US Ambassador Richard Grenell, in which he told Breitbart that he wants to "empower” conservatives throughout Europe.
"If you translate 'awakening' and 'empowering' in this context, very ugly German language comes up, which resonates with the 1920s and 1930s," Nick, who also sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee in the German parliament, told Deutsche Welle on Tuesday, referring to remarks used by extremist politicians in the pre-World War II era. He added that the US ambassador would "be well advised" to learn about German history "and the sensitivities that result from that."
Nick said Grenell's words were "highly inappropriate" and that his "time may be quickly running out to be an effective and workable ambassador to this country."
He added: "If he is not here to be a traditional ambassador, but a PR person for the alternative-right movement in Europe, we will have an issue.”
Nick is the latest of several German politicians to speak out against Grenell, with some calling for his expulsion. The chief of the far-left Linke party, Sahra Wagenknecht, didn't hold back when expressing her thoughts on the matter earlier this week.
"Someone like US ambassador Richard Grenell, who thinks he can lord over Europe and determine who is governing here, can no longer stay in Germany as a diplomat," she told Die Welt daily. "If the government takes the democratic sovereignty of our country seriously, then it shouldn't just invite Grenell to a chat over coffee, but expel him immediately."
Berlin sought clarification from the US following Grenell's comments. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas previously confirmed that the issue would be discussed at a pre-arranged meeting, between the US ambassador and Foreign Ministry State Secretary Andreas Michaelis, on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Grenell has responded to the criticism by calling the notion that he would endorse European candidates or policies "ridiculous."
Absurd. I condemn those comments completely. Don’t put words in my mouth. The idea that I’d endorse candidates/parties is ridiculous. I stand by my comments that we are experiencing an awakening from the silent majority - those who reject the elites & their bubble. Led by Trump. https://t.co/DjSX4SL3bf— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) June 4, 2018
The US defended the ambassador's comments on Tuesday, with State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert saying that US envoys "have a right to express their opinions," citing free speech.
Grenell's comments come as the relationship between the US and Germany is on the rocks, after Washington departed from the Iran nuclear agreement and imposed tariffs on European aluminum and steel. It also follows German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s announcement that Europe must take its fate into its own hands, as it can no longer rely on the US for protection.
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