‘Europe will not be destabilized’: French, German foreign ministers slam Trump
With the NATO summit barely finished foreign ministers from France and Germany have spoken out against the antagonistic conduct of Donald Trump, accusing the US president of trying to destabilize European unity with his antics.
While an interview with the commander-in-chief featured in the UK’s Sun newspaper on Friday, German newstands were filled by news of an attack on the president from Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. He told Der Spiegel that Trump’s verbal outburst against Germany endangered the West's security.
"Europe can't accept that what's been built up over many years is intentionally damaged for the thrill of being provocative," Maas told the German weekly.
This sentiment was picked up by his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, who told French BFMTV on Friday that Trump had already threatened the 2015 Paris agreement on tackling climate change, the Iran nuclear deal, and undermined the UN’s operating model.
“He [Trump] jeopardized the climate agreement, he jeopardized the agreement on Iran, jeopardized the UN operating model. And he does not tolerate the fact that there is a unity called the European Union,” Le Drian said.
Moving on to the president’s lifting of a tariff suspension on steel and aluminum imports from the EU, Canada, and Mexico, Le Drian accused Trump of taking the measures to destabilize European unity. “He is taking initiatives with respect to Europe, in particular in the field of trade, which are aimed at destabilization.”
Announced on May 31 by United States Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, a 25% tax on steel and 10% levy on aluminum imports was brought in by the Trump administration, with Ross attributing the move to slow progress with Canada and Mexico on renegotiating NAFTA and disagreements with the EU on a revised trading relationship.
While South Korea, Brazil, Argentina and Australia have remained exempt from the tariffs, they have been given place quotas or volume limits on imports. Europe, led by France and Germany, has since responded with retaliatory measures as the EU branded US trade practices “illegal.”
Le Drian’s comments come after a highly-anticipated NATO summit in Brussels saw the US president on the one hand reaffirm his commitment to the alliance – but also threaten that the US would “do our own thing” if partners did not do more to raise defense spending to the agreed upon two percent of GDP.
He also used the summit to take shots at Germany for its willingness to buy Russian energy through the Nord Stream pipeline. However he indicated that if “everybody” has a good relationship with Russia, it may be less of a burning concern.
Rebuking Trump over his claims that German reliance on Russian gas had left Berlin “captive” to Moscow, Mass told Speigel: “We aren't prisoners, neither to Russia nor to the US.”
Despite Trump’s bellicose talk there seemed to be little radical policy change after the summit, with French President Emmanuel Macron and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg insisting that members were on track to reach their two percent targets as per the 2014 agreement.
“Europe will not allow itself to be destabilized,” Le Drian concluded.
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