BELGRADE – Politicians across Europe have been reacting to a wide-ranging Donald Trump interview, hitting back at the US president-elect’s “astonishing” statements on EU policies, NATO and the Iran nuclear deal.
In his interview with UK newspaper the Times and Germany’s Bild, published Monday, Trump said plenty of things Europe may not have wanted to hear, calling the Iranian deal “catastrophic,” labeling NATO as “obsolete,” applauding Brexit, and reiterating his intension to mend relations with Russia.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that Trump’s position on NATO and the EU had “been known for a while.”
“My positions are also known,” Merkel said, promising to “continue to work to ensure that the 27 [post-Brexit] member states work together effectively and, above all, in a forward-looking way.”
“We Europeans have our destiny in our own hands,” the chancellor said.
French President Francois Hollande responded to Trump’s attack on the EU by charging that Europe “doesn’t need outside advice to tell it what to do.”
“Europe will be ready to pursue transatlantic cooperation, but it will based on its interests and values,” Hollande said, before awarding France’s highest honor to outgoing American ambassador, Jane Hartley.
The call to stand together was also voiced by French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who said: “as with the case of Brexit, the best way to defend Europe is to remain united.”
“This is a bit of an invitation that we are making to Mr. Trump. To remain a bloc. Not to forget that the force of Europeans is in their unity,” Ayrault said.
Finland’s Foreign Minister, Timo Soini, said NATO will still remain at the core of European security under Trump.
“I think that military spending will increase. But I don’t think that the role of NATO is reduced or that NATO withdraws or anything like that,” Soini said as quoted by the Helsingin Sanomat paper.
“I don’t believe…that Europe and the US would drift apart,” he said, adding that if this somehow happens “it would be a great loss on both sides.”
Luxembourg’s foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, expressed hope that Trump’s attitude will change after he’s inaugurated as the 45th president of the US.
“One must hope that the statements of candidate Trump starting Friday will go in a different direction. If the risks are summed up, it would be very destabilizing, which is not in the interest of America,” Asselborn said.
In the end, the EU rallied to provide a unified response, encouraged by Berlin and Paris, with politicians from different countries rushing to defend the European cause.