“In the face of [US] economic sanctions and punitive tariffs, we should not sit like a rabbit in front of a snake,” Maas told Bild newspaper on Sunday when asked about partnership with Washington. “We must protect our own interests. It is not only the 80 million Germans [we are talking about], it is Europe and the 500 million people [living there],” Maas added.
It’s not clear if by “rabbit” if Maas meant the whole of Europe or Germany which got probably most of the Trump’s ire among the EU states. Even during his presidential campaign Trump was critical of German chancellor Angela Merkel for her migrant policies, calling her “a catastrophic leader.”
Trump lambasted Berlin for its level of military spending – something the president openly branded unfair. “Germany pays 1 percent (slowly) of GDP towards NATO, while we pay 4 percent of a MUCH larger GDP. Does anybody believe that makes sense?” Trump tweeted back in June.
Germany, as with other EU members, was hit by Trump’s raising of tariffs on steel and aluminum in June. Speaking on the antagonistic conduct of the US leader, Maas insisted 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 said.
In late August, Maas made an even harsher statement, saying that Germany must “recalibrate the transatlantic partnership” with Washington. “The US is more than the White House,” he said.
Another stumbling block in German-US relations is the much-discussed Nord Stream 2 project. The US president repeatedly expressed strong opposition to the project, calling Germany a captive of Russian energy. He made no secret of US ambitions either, promising, during his last whirlwind tour of Europe, that Europeans will be buying “vast amounts” of US-produced liquefied natural gas (LNG).
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