German minister says a Trump defeat in November won't undo damage to transatlantic ties

President recently announced withdrawal of thousands of troops from country over NATO disagreement

Louise Hall
Monday 29 June 2020 18:50 BST
Trump suggests US should treat Germany as an enemy because of World War II

German foreign minister Heiko Maas has said that even if Donald Trump loses the upcoming election in November, the relationship between the US and Germany could still be severely damaged.

"Anyone who thinks that having a Democrat in office would reinstate the transatlantic partnership to what it was before is underestimating the structural changes," Mr Maas said in an interview with German Press Agency (DPA).

"The transatlantic partnership is extremely important, will remain important, and we are working to secure its future. But in its current form, it no longer meets the demands that both sides have of it. That's why there's an urgent need for action there."

Mr Trump has exacerbated strain on transatlantic ties throughout his presidency, often vocal in his criticism of the countries' contributions to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and having presented strong opposition to the new Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline being built from Russia to Germany.

Earlier this month, Mr Trump claimed that Germany is “delinquent for billions of dollars” in its NATO payments and announced that he would withdraw thousands of troops from Germany, reducing its military presence in the country by roughly a third.

Germany doesn’t owe the US, or Nato, as members’ pledge to spend two percent of their GDP is not contingent on other countries’ support.

Following the president’s comments, Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel said US troops defend both Germany and the interests of the US.

“American troops in Germany help to protect not only Germany and the European part of NATO but also the interests of the United States of America,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said this week in an interview with The Guardian.

“We in Germany know that we have to spend more on defence; we have achieved considerable increases in recent years, and we will continue on that path to enhance our military capabilities.”

In March, Mr Trump suggested that the US should treat Germany more like an enemy because the two countries were adversaries in World War II while lobbying for closer US-Russia relations.

"They also fought World War II. They lost 50 million people," Mr Trump said of Russia and the Soviet Union.

"Germany was the enemy. ... And Germany's [now], like, this wonderful thing," he added.

Last week, Ch Merkel hit back the US by suggesting that it may wish to consider its position as a “world power.”

“We grew up in the certain knowledge that the United States wanted to be a\ world power,” the German chancellor told reporters in an interview on Friday.

“Should the US now wish to withdraw from that role of its own free will, we would have to reflect on that very deeply."

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