Europe cannot put all of its trust in the U.S. when it comes to protection and should instead “take its destiny into its own hands,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said.
The German leader spoke about European unity at an award ceremony in the city of Aachen, where she praised French President Emmanuel Macron for his “contagious enthusiasm” about the continent and said this would inspire young Europeans. She reiterated a concern from last year that, considering the threats “at Europe’s doorstep,” U.S. protection is not implicitly reliable anymore.
“It’s no longer the case that the United States will simply just protect us,” Merkel said, according to a live broadcast by Deutsche Welle on Periscope. “Let’s face it: Europe is still in its infancy with regard to the common foreign policy,” Merkel said, but she stressed the need for nations to close ranks against common threats. “That is the task for the future.”
Merkel made a similar appeal a year ago, following visits by President Donald Trump to her country and the NATO alliance in neighboring Belgium. The chancellor hinted that Trump’s “America first” slogan and his frequent clashes with U.S. allies across the Atlantic were indicative of a wider schism in the western alliance.
Her latest comments came shortly after a visit to the White House last month, when differences with Trump on several policy areas were apparent. Most recently, Trump’s decision to pull out of a major nuclear energy and arms control deal with Iran has earned him criticism from Germany and other European nations, including Russia, that support the deal.
Macron, who received the Charlemagne award at Thursday’s event, echoed many of Merkel’s points in pushing for a European foreign and defense policy. “We made the choice to build peace in the Middle East,” Macron said. “Other powers…haven’t kept their word,” he added, without specifying the powerful countries he was referencing.
“We must succeed in building our own sovereignty, which in this region will be the guarantor of stability,” he said.