The world’s current international hotspots – Iran, the Baltics, NATO and North Korea – reacted with deliberate caution on Wednesday (9 November) to Donald Trump’s establishment-defying victory in the US presidential election.
The only major ‘pushback’ came from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the de facto leader of Europe, who broke ranks with other world leaders in issuing a heavily-guarded warning to Trump.
Speaking in Berlin later on Wednesday, Merkel said, “Germany and America are connected by values of democracy, freedom, and respect for the law and the dignity of man, independent of origin, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political views.
“I offer the next president of the United States close cooperation on the basis of these values.”
Just after news of the victory in Washington reached Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, whose country shares a long land border with Russia, and faces the NATO Baltic states across the Gulf of Finland.
During his campaign, Trump suggested he would not necessarily be bound by NATO’s Article Five, committing all members to mutual protection, if Russia made a move on the three ex-Soviet Baltic states.
Niinisto said on Twitter “News of Trump’s victory kept me awake this morning. Congratulations to the winner, and I look forward to meeting Stoltenberg.”
Stoltenberg said: “US leadership is as important as ever… A strong NATO is good for the United States, and good for Europe.”
Stoltenberg told Niinisto: “NATO welcomes your personal engagement on issue of air safety in the Baltic Sea region.”
In a brief statement, the Kremlin said Putin expressed “his hope to work together for removing Russian-American relations from their crisis state”.
In likewise cautious terms, Estonia Prime Minister Taavi Roivas, pointedly noted: “Congratulations @realDonaldTrump. World needs US and Europe, united and strong. NATO, respect for liberty and democracy are fundamentals.”
Latvia’s foreign ministry retweeted a message from their president, saying; “We congratulate Donald Trump upon election result. Look forward to close relations with the new US administration.”
There was no immediate reaction from the Prime Minister of Lithuania, Algirdas Butkevicius, who last tweeted on 3 October.
Global flashpoints – the Baltic, NATO, Russia, North Korea, Iran
All three Baltic states have minority ethnic Russian populations and have watched events in Ukraine with alarm.
The EU – and foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini – were partners in the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump has also promised to “dismantle”, calling it “disastrous”.
Mogherini said simply” EU – #US ties are deeper than any change in politics. We’ll continue to work together, rediscovering the strength of Europe
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif: said, pointedly: “Every US president has to understand the realities of today’s world. The most important thing is that the future US president sticks to agreements, to engagements undertaken.”
There was no immediate reaction from North Korea, probably the most unknowable of the world’s assumed armed nuclear powers.
North Korea analysis
Speaking to EurActiv.com, Aidan Foster-Carter, Honorary Senior Research Fellow in Modern Korea at Leeds University, and one of Europe’s leading authorities on the reclusive regime, said: “I imagine North Korea’s response will be cautious since Trump has uttered different things at different times.
“They may remind him that he said he could talk to Kim Jong-un. I happen to think that would be a good idea.
“There are numerous unknowns, including who [Trump] will appoint.”
“Trump’s win strengthens those who want Seoul [ie South Korea] to go nuclear. Those who oppose this will find it harder to hold the line.”
“Here, of course, we must factor in the whole Park Geun-hye crisis [in Seoul]. But even without that, a year into Trump’s presidency South Korea too will have a new president. All the main current contenders support some degree of engagement with Pyongyang, alongside sanctions.
“So overall I see the pendulum swinging towards renewed diplomacy – which again is a good thing in my opinion.”
“I foresee some big rows on US-South Korea burden-sharing.”
“Unnerving times indeed, overall. But just possibly a small silver lining in one corner, if the shock can kick-start diplomacy with and about North Korea.”
Germany’s far-right AfD leader, Frauke Petry, welcomed the election of Trump, as did Viktor Orbán in Hungary, and the UK’s Nigel Farage, and Marine Le Pen in France.
Petry told The Guardian, “It was high time that in the United States of America, people who feel disaffected withdrew their vote for the political establishment. Whilst 93% of voters in Washington DC voted for Clinton and in so doing for the retention of their own power structures, the majority of voters across the country want a political new beginning, an economic recovery for the stricken middle class and an end of division in what is still the most powerful country in the world.”
Le Pen, who is a front-runner in next April’s French presidential election, tweeted: “Félicitations au nouveau président des Etats-Unis Donald Trump et au peuple américain, libre ! MLP [Congratulations to the new President of the United States, Donald Trump, and the Amercan people. Liberty!]
The Dutch right-wing leader Geert Wilders tweeted “The people are taking their country back. So will we.”
Hungary’s Orbán said: “What a great news. Democracy is still alive.”
According to the BBC correspondent in Berlin, the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said simply: “It is not the result I or the German people wanted…Germany must remain the home of reason.”
Philippines ‘strongman’ says congrats
In the Philippines, new ‘strongman’ President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, blamed for the deaths of some 2,300 people since he started a ‘war on drugs’ earlier this year, put out a statement congratulating Trump.
“President Duterte wishes President-elect Trump success in the next four years as Chief Executive and commander-in chief of the US military, and looks forward to working the incoming administration for enhanced Philippines-US relations anchored on mutual respect, mutual benefit and shared commitment to democratic ideals and the rule of law.”
Jean-Marie Cavada, another veteran French MEP from Les Républicains, said the real winners of Trump’s election are “Russia, Daesh” and other “obscurantists” from the Sahel and Middle East. “Specialists will be needed to govern this country because this man knows absolutely nothing,” he told EurActiv.
“For its part, Europe will have to get organised to deal with major sovereignty issues like security, the renovation of its economy, energy security and defence, because otherwise it will be swept aside,“ he warned.