Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Angela Merkel warns Joe Biden to expect ‘arguments’

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Angela Merkel has warned that she will not agree with new US President Joe Biden on everything, and that even with a new administration in Washington, Europe will have to take on more military and diplomatic responsibilities around the world.

“Do not think that from tomorrow there will be only harmony between us,” she told reporters just a day after Mr. Biden’s inauguration. “There will also be arguments on how best to do things for our two countries.”

Mr. Biden’s entrance to the White House met with enormous relief in Germany, which regularly attacked by his predecessor Donald Trump on everything from his large current account surplus and relatively low defense spending to his support for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Europe.

But Merkel stressed that she doesn’t always see an agreement with Mr Biden either, saying that when he was vice president they argued over the wisdom of selling weapons to Ukraine.

Despite her note of caution, the Chancellor expressed broad optimism about the future of transatlantic relations, saying there would be “much more scope for political agreement” with Mr Biden than with his predecessor.

Joe Biden, left, is sworn in as US president in Washington on Wednesday. Some irritants should remain in US-German relations © Andrew Harnik / AP

She nodded at the Executive orders he signed on his first day in office, which ended the US withdrawal from the World Health Organization and brought it back into the Paris climate agreement, claiming that Germany was looking forward to working with America on health and climate issues. “Cooperation [will] are based on a broader base of shared beliefs, ”she said.

But she said the same strategic challenges Europe faced under President Trump had not gone away. “Europe will have to take on more responsibilities overall, both military and diplomatic,” she said. “The good news is that Germany and the EU are ready to do it.”

Certain irritants are expected to remain in US-German relations. The United States, for example, angered Germany by imposing sanctions Nord Stream 2 – a project that Merkel noted is opposed by Democrats and Republicans in Washington. The chancellor said such extraterritorial sanctions are “not OK”.

European critics of the pipeline – who say it will increase the continent’s dependence on Gazprom gas at a time when the Kremlin is pushing back civil liberties in Russia – have called on Berlin to withdraw the project in view of the Kremlin situation . arrest of Alexei Navalny, the eminent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ms Merkel said on Thursday that she had not changed her mind about Nord Stream 2, which she has always supported. But she suggested she would be in favor of a full-scale discussion with the United States on Europe’s energy relationship with Russia, in which “we put everything on the table.”

“We will have to discuss what economic relations with Russia in the gas sector are acceptable and which are not,” she said, noting that the United States is also buying oil from Russia. . “We have to ask ourselves if we no longer have any gas trade with Russia or what level of dependence is tolerable.”

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