Angela Merkel says it was ‘right’ to confront Donald Trump over climate change

Germany is bristling over the US President’s behaviour

Andrew Buncombe
New York
,Tom Batchelor
Monday 29 May 2017 14:42 BST
The Chancellor’s spokesman said ‘it’s right to name differences honestly’
The Chancellor’s spokesman said ‘it’s right to name differences honestly’ (Getty)

German leader Angela Merkel was right to confront Donald Trump over the need to tackle climate change, her spokesman has said.

A day after she had suggested that Germany and Europe could no longer rely on the US under the leadership of Mr Trump, there was a doubling down on the German Chancellor’s comments.

Her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said the Chancellor remained committed to strong trans-Atlantic relations, but her suggestion after meetings with Mr Trump, that Europe can no longer entirely rely on the US, “speaks for itself”.

“[US-German relations] are a strong pillar of our foreign and security policy, and Germany will continue working to strengthen these relations,” said Mr Seibert. “Precisely because they are so important, it’s right to name differences honestly.”

Last week, Mr Trump was pressed by leaders of the G7 to keep the US in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, an accord agreeing to cut carbon dioxide emissions that Barack Obama signed his name to. The agreement involves almost 200 countries, and experts say it is essential if the planet is to have any chance of tackling catastrophic climate change.

On the election trail, Mr Trump called climate change science a hoax, and suggested he would pull out of the agreement, as he believed it was bad for business. After Mr Trump returned to Washington, it was reported that he had decided to withdraw the US, despite the protestations of Europe.

Speaking over the weekend at an event in Bavaria, Ms Merkel had stressed the need for friendly relations with the US, Britain and Russia, but added: “We Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands.”

Ms Merkel said the traditional western alliance was threatened by the new US presidency and Brexit, and “the times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over, as I have experienced in the past few days”.

Angela Merkel: 'We Europeans must take our destiny into our own hands'

The Associated Press said Germany has also bristled at criticism from Mr Trump over Nato spending and the country’s large trade surplus. Ms Merkel is looking ahead to elections in September, when she is seeking her fourth term.

Her main challenger, the Social Democrat’s chancellor candidate Martin Schulz, was even more outspoken in his comments about the G7 and Nato meetings last week, saying the summits made clear Mr Trump was a “President of the United States of America who wants to humiliate others, who presents himself like an authoritarian ruler”.

“Europe is the answer, and stronger cooperation between the European countries at all levels is the answer to Donald Trump,” Mr Schulz said on ARD public television. “And above all else we must not submit to Trump’s arms-race logic.”

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Mr Trump’s actions had “weakened” the West, and his “short-sighted” policies had hurt the interests of the EU.

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