Trump-era U.S. Retreat A Wakeup Call For Europe – German Minister

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel. Photo: Bernd von Jutrczenka / dpa / AFP

Germany’s foreign minister on Tuesday urged Europe to define and defend its own interests, warning that Washington’s retreat from the world stage may continue even after Donald Trump’s presidency.

“The current withdrawal of the US under Donald Trump from its role as the reliable guarantor of western multilateralism is accelerating a change in the world order and has direct consequences on the perception of German and European interests,” Sigmar Gabriel said.

He said that the current US administration had taken an “extraordinary distance” from its traditionally close relationship with Europe, which it now increasingly viewed as a “competitor or economic rival” rather than an ally.

Urging Europe not to sit back and wait but take its fate into its own hands, Gabriel warned that the “US withdrawal is not just about one single president, it won’t change fundamentally with the next election”.

“That’s why there is no doubt that Germany and Europe, given this situation, need to take on more than before,” he told a foreign policy congress in Berlin.

“To say it openly: it’s a risk that’s forcing us to act. We should not wait and see how things develop, and not have an influence on it,” he warned.

“Only when the European Union defines its own interests, as well as projects its power, can it survive,” said Gabriel, warning that the continent was viewed as prosperous but weak.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s election was a “a stroke of luck” because he had understood EU’s decline and had ideas on how to reform it, said the foreign minister.

“The German position on these initiatives must be determined by the next government — no matter what it looks like,” said the foreign minister at the congress organised by the think-tank Koerber Foundation.

“That must be at the centre of government policies,” he said at a time when Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and Gabriel’s Social Democrats are eyeing a potential new coalition government.

Trump’s election has impacted trust in the transatlantic alliance, with only 43 percent of Germans now viewing Washington as Berlin’s most important foreign partner, down from 60 percent a year ago, said a survey presented at the congress.

By comparison, France was seen by 63 percent Germans as the most important foreign partner, up from 60 percent 12 months ago.


Germany Worries Trump Will Quit Iran Nuclear Deal


German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Sunday that he feared United States President Donald Trump would quit the Iran nuclear deal next week.

Trump is a stern critic of the 2015 accord, which he has called “the worst deal ever”, and US officials say he intends to tell US Congress next week that Tehran is not honouring its side of the bargain.

“The United States is likely to quit the Iran agreement next week — that is my great concern,” Gabriel was quoted as saying by national news agency DPA.

However Gabriel said Germany remains committed to the agreement, which Berlin helped negotiate, to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb.

Gabriel, speaking at a state election campaign event, said his question to Washington was: “What good will come of us treating Iran as though it is developing nuclear weapons after all? … Nothing.”

He accused the US administration of “replacing the rule of law with the law of the strongest”.

“And that is a great danger for us because if the United States of America takes that course then the world will change,” he said.

Trump is expected to announce that he is “decertifying” Iran’s compliance with the agreement it signed to limit its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

US officials insist this will not sink the deal itself but open the way for Congress to possibly develop new measures to punish other aspects of Iran’s behaviour.

Resumed sanctions could derail the accord negotiated with Tehran by former President Barack Obama and other major world powers.

Congress requires the president to certify Iranian compliance with the deal every 90 days. The next date certification date is October 15.

Under the law, Congress would then have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions lifted by the deal.


Trump Suspends U.S. Syrian Refugee Programme

Donald Trump Suspends U.S. Syrian Refugee ProgrammePresident Donald Trump on Friday signed an executive order putting a four-month hold on refugees flow into the United States.

This temporarily bars visitors from Syrian and six other Muslim majority countries Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan Iraq and Yemen.

According to the White House, the new measure which will last for 90 days is expected to keep radical terrorists out of the United States of America.

But civil rights groups say the move is discriminatory and will paint the United States in bad light.

“I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. Don’t want them here,” Trump said earlier on Friday.

“We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people,” he said.

Meanwhile, France and Germany are “concerned” over Trump’s move to restrict refugee arrivals.

French Foreign Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault said following a meeting with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel, that “This decision can only cause us concern,” adding that “Welcoming refugees who are fleeing war is part of our duty.”

The United Nations refugee agency and International Organization for Migration (IOM) called on the Trump administration on Saturday to continue offering asylum to people fleeing war and persecution, saying its resettlement program was vital.

EU Plans To Accept 160,000 Migrants

migrantsEuropean countries have announced plans to accommodate as many as 160,000 migrants seeking asylum.

That plan of action has however been criticised by Germany, who claimed they can do more.

Germany’s Vice-Chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, said thousands are estimated to arrive in Europe this year and when put together, the number of people expected in 2015, and 2016, will reach as high as 900,000.

On Wednesday, the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, announced plans to distribute 120,000 refugees from Greece, Italy and Hungary among member states, via binding quotas.

He described the plan as ‘a first step, if one wants to be polite.’

Thousands of migrants have been pouring in mainly from Syria, where a civil war has been ongoing for almost four years. And from Libya, which has been political unstable, since the death of Muammar Gaddafi, in 2011.

Earlier today, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, visited a home for refugees in Berlin.

Later, she said she hoped newcomers would integrate with the help of their children learning German in school.