Angela Merkel's European destiny speech was a message to Trump, MP says
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was sending a message to U.S. President Donald Trump when she said Europe can no longer rely on its allies, says an MP in her ruling CDU party.
"The times when we could fully count on others are over to a certain extent. I have experienced this in the last few days," Merkel said at an election rally Sunday on the heels of a Group of Seven summit at which the Europeans couldn't reach an agreement with Trump on climate change.
"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 other neighbours wherever possible, also with Russia. But we must know that we need to fight for our future ourselves, as Europeans, for our destiny."
As It Happens guest host Helen Mann spoke with German MP Stephan Mayer, the Home Affairs spokesperson for the CDU, about the significance of the chancellor's speech. Here is a part of their conversation.
It was not only the German public and the German citizens who she addressed. She also addressed the U.S. administration.- German MP Stephan Mayer
Helen Mann: A lot of observers see Angela Merkel's comments as indicative of a major shift for Europe. How significant do you think her remarks are?
Stephan Mayer: I think she was influenced by the experiences the days before, especially at the G7 summit and at the NATO summit in Brussels, when she met Donald Trump for a couple of hours. So I am deeply convinced that she was very, very touched by this unique experience.
HM: What do you think it is about her interactions with President Trump that has convinced Chancellor Merkel that the U.S. is an unreliable partner?
SM: My impression is that our Chancellor, Angela Merkel, feels that there is a shift in the foreign policy of the United States under the new President Donald Trump. Certainly, she had a good relationship with Barack Obama and I'm deeply convinced that she is still very much aware of the importance of the United States, especially for Germany. Outside the European Union, the U.S.A. is by far our most important partner.
HM: Is it not possible that she was overreacting in her assessment of the American position on Europe?
SM: She doesn't tend to overreact. She is very thoughtful in all she does and she is not very emotional in her reactions.
I think she is very much concerned about the attitude of the new administration — especially of the president. It's very difficult to get along with the U.S. administration concerning climate policy or concerning trade agreements.
HM: Who is she sending the message to?
SM: It was not only the German public and the German citizens who she addressed. She also addressed the U.S. administration, and I think the statement makes clear that after the first six months of the new U.S. administration, now the time of waiting is over ... and now we have clear expectations towards the U.S. administration.
HM: Can Europe afford to lose its relationship with the U.S. when it comes to trade and defence?
SM: I'm convinced in these difficult times that there's always a chance is to enhance and foster the ties between the member states of the European Union.
HM: How do you think [Trump] will respond to the chancellor's comments?
SM: It's very difficult for me to predict how the U.S. President Trump will react or respond on the statement of our Chancellor Angela Merkel, and if there will be a response at all.
But on the other hand, I think the U.S.A. is dependent on good relations with the European Union. I think it's not the ideal solution for the U.S. to stand alone and be isolated among First World countries.
With files from Reuters. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. For more, listen to our full conversation with Stephan Mayer.