Chancellor Angela Merkel, vowing to stay in office despite stresses at home and abroad, said she would work on Germany’s “under pressure” relationship with the United States but that Washington could no longer be relied on to deliver world order.
At a wide-ranging news conference, Merkel described Germany’s relationship with the United States as “crucial”, even after U.S. President Donald Trump last week accused Berlin of being a “captive” of Russia due to its energy reliance.
Merkel, 64, is trying to hold together her fractious coalition, dogged by infighting over immigration policy, while also dealing with Trump and a raft of foreign policy challenges including Brexit.
Asked about her working relationship with Trump, Merkel said: “One can say that the values, or our usual framework, are under strong pressure at the moment.”
“However, the transatlantic working relationship, including with the U.S. president, is crucial for us and I will carry on cultivating it,” she added.
Last week, Trump said Germany was wrong to allow a new $11-billion Baltic Sea pipeline to import even more Russian gas, while being slow to meet targets for NATO spending.
“I think it is a horrific thing that’s being done when you’re feeding billions and billions of dollars from Germany primarily … into the coffers of Russia,” Trump had said during a trip to Europe.
He also pressed Germany and other NATO countries to raise their defense spending, threatening to go it alone if other members of the alliance did not step up.
Merkel resisted any temptation to hit back at Trump, who has faced a political outcry back in the United States over his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The chancellor, a conservative who grew up in Communist East Germany, instead welcomed Trump’s invitation to Putin to meet in Washington this autumn and said it should become normal again for U.S. and Russian leaders to meet.
But she said she had been right to say a year ago that Europe could no longer rely on the United States to impose order on the world, and that it needed to take matters close to home into its own hands.
“We can’t rely on the superpower of the United States,” Merkel said.