Angela Merkel and François Hollande have responded curtly but defiantly after Donald Trump cast further doubt on his commitment to Nato and gave strong hints that he would not support EU cohesion once in office.
“We Europeans have our fate in our own hands,” the German chancellor said after the publication of the US president-elect’s interviews with the Times and German tabloid Bild. “He has presented his positions once more. They have been known for a while. My positions are also known.”
In the Times interview, Trump complained that Nato had become “obsolete” because it “hadn’t taken care of terror” – a comment later welcomed by the Kremlin. He suggested that other European countries would follow in Britain’s footsteps and leave the EU.
Hollande, the French president, retorted by saying Europe did not need to be told what to do by outsiders.
“Europe will be ready to pursue transatlantic cooperation, but it will based on its interests and values,” Hollande said on Monday. “It does not need outside advice to tell it what to do.”
Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said the criticism of Nato had caused concern in the political and military alliance. “I’ve spoken today not only with EU foreign ministers but Nato foreign ministers as well and can report that the signals are that there’s been no easing of tensions,” he said.
Other senior members of Merkel’s government were quick to defend Germany’s policies after Trump criticised the chancellor’s handling of the refugee crisis and threatened a 35% tariff on BMW cars imported to the US.
Responding to Trump’s comments that Merkel had made an “utterly catastrophic mistake by letting all these illegals into the country”, the deputy chancellor and minister for the economy, Sigmar Gabriel, said the increase in the number of people fleeing the Middle East to seek asylum in Europe had partially been a result of US-led wars destabilising the region.