Europe should face Donald Trump with “confidence”, German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said Monday (16 January), after the US president-elect had predicted that more EU members would leave the bloc and charged that NATO was “obsolete”.
“I think we Europeans shouldn’t somehow plunge into a deep, great depression,” Gabriel told Bild ahead of Trump’s inauguration Friday. “I don’t underestimate what Trump says, especially regarding NATO and the EU, but a little bit of self-confidence would serve us well in such a situation.”
In a concurrent statement, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said that European unity is the best reply to remarks by US President-elect Donald Trump that cast doubt on the continent’s future, especially after Brexit.
“The best response to the interviews given by the US president is the unity of Europeans, to come together as a bloc,” Ayrault said as he went into a meeting of European Union foreign ministers.
EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini focused on Trump’s criticisms of the Iran nuclear accord, insisting the bloc will stand by the Iran agreement because it serves Europe’s security needs.
“It is proof that diplomacy works and delivers… The European Union will continue to work for the respect and implementation of this extremely important deal, most of all for our security,” Mogherini said.
Trump has repeatedly blasted the agreement with Iran as “one of the dumbest deals I have ever seen”, claiming it will not stop Tehran getting atomic weapons.
The US president-elect repeated the charge in interviews with top European newspapers on Sunday (15 January).
Mogherini said she would not comment on his remarks, but claimed — on the first anniversary of the accord she helped negotiate — that much had been accomplished.
The agreement “has delivered both on the nuclear-related commitments Iran took and on the firm determination of the international community to fully implement this deal”, she said.
As far as the EU was concerned, the accord had resulted in increased trade and economic ties, “which is really significant”, she added.
The accord took years of tough negotiations but was finally sealed in 2015, before being implemented in January 2016, with Tehran agreeing to rein in its nuclear programme in return for an easing of punishing Western economic sanctions.
President Barack Obama hailed the accord as one of his major achievements, preventing Iran getting nuclear weapons without having to go to war, but Trump has said repeatedly he will ditch it.
The European Commission would only say it, “had read the interview with interest”.