BERLIN — Angela Merkel’s weekend speech stating that Europe could no longer “fully count on others” was a sign of the widening cracks in the relationship between Germany and the U.S. — an alliance that has defined the post-World War II global order, experts and analysts said.
“All I can say is that we Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands,” the German leader told the crowd of some 2,500 during a campaign event at a beer tent in Bavaria. “The times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over, as I have experienced in the past few days.”
While Merkel never mentioned President Donald Trump by name, her blunt remarks followed a bruising series of meetings with the U.S. president at the NATO summit in Belgium and then at the G-7 gathering in Italy.
Trump sent a tweet criticizing Germany early Tuesday.
On Thursday, Trump did not explicitly promise to protect America’s NATO allies if they came under attack, instead alleging 23 out of the 28-member nations owed “massive amounts of money” to U.S. taxpayers. The U.S.-led NATO alliance made up mainly by European countries has for decades been a bulwark against the Soviet and then Russian aggression.
At the G-7 summit, European and other diplomats were frustrated that Trump refused to endorse a global climate change accord and said he needed more time to decide. Trump was also quoted as calling Germany “very bad” on trade — but the White House denied it.
Merkel’s comments were made on the election trail and therefore directed at a domestic audience as much as to an international one.
Michael van Hulten, a fellow at the London School of Economics, called Merkel’s speech “huge — German chancellor signalling the end of the post-WW2 Western consensus.”
Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper stated that Sunday’s comments showed “Merkel no longer regards the USA as reliable.”
Elmar Thevessen, the deputy editor-in-chief at German public broadcaster ZDF, said that “Merkel sent a very important signal” from Europe.
“[French President Emmanuel] Macron and other European leaders seemed to have the same takeaway” from the encounter with Trump and his delegation at NATO’s headquarters and the G-7, he said.
Read more at NBC.