President-elect Donald Trump recently gave a joint interview to two European newspapers, The Times of London and the German publication Bild. During this interview, Trump lashed out at NATO, calling the organization “obsolete.”
Speaking of NATO, Trump said that, while the group is “very important” to him, it has become “obsolete because it wasn’t taking care of terror.”
According to BR Trump also repeated a previous argument against NATO, that “a lot of” its member states are not contributing equally to the organization. Trump complained:
‘A lot of these countries aren’t paying what they’re supposed to be paying, which I think is very unfair to the United States.’
Trump also went after the European Union during his interview, saying that it has become “basically a vehicle for Germany.” He added that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made “one very catastrophic mistake and that was taking all of these illegals.”
Not surprisingly, European leaders have not taken kindly to Trump’s remarks. According to a report from The Washington Post, several leaders have spoken of the potential for a breach in transatlantic relations following Trump’s comments. If necessary, they are prepared to move forward without the involvement of the United States.
Chancellor Merkel said that she is willing to work with Trump wherever possible. However, she also told reporters, “We Europeans have our destiny in our own hands.”
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also commented on Trump’s remarks, saying that they “caused astonishment and excitement, not just in Brussels.”
Steinmeier added that Germany is still trying to assess the future of U.S. foreign policy under Donald Trump’s administration. “We have to see what will come out for American policy,” Steinmeier said.
Outside of Germany, leaders such as French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault are encouraging Trump to change his tune. Ayrault said:
‘The best response is European unity. As with the case of Brexit, the best way to defend Europe is to remain united. This is a bit of an invitation that we are making to Mr. Trump. To remain a bloc. Not to forget that the force of Europeans is in their unity.’
Luxembourg’s foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, also expressed hope that Trump will begin to spread a different message once he is inaugurated:
‘One must hope that the statements of candidate Trump starting Friday will go in a different direction. If the risks are summed up, it would be very destabilizing, which is not in the interest of America.’
While many of Europe’s leaders were shocked by Trump’s remarks and encouraged him to dial them back, one leader seemed impressed with the President-elect after the interview. British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson reacted positively to Trump’s response to a question about creating a trade deal between the U.S. and the U.K.
When asked how quickly a trade deal could be expected, Trump responded:
‘Absolutely, very quickly. I’m a big fan of the UK, uh, we’re gonna work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly — good for both sides.’
Johnson said about Trump’s response:
‘It’s very good news that the United States of America wants to do a good free trade deal with us and wants to do it very fast and it’s great to hear that from President-elect Donald Trump.’
While the Brexit leader is pleased with Trump’s promises, it seems other foreign leaders, much like many people in the U.S., are waiting with baited breath, hoping that Trump does not follow through with his potentially disastrous plans.