EU should face Donald Trump with 'confidence': German vice chancellor
Europe should face Donald Trump with 'confidence', German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said on Monday, after the US president-elect had predicted that more EU members would join Britain in leaving the bloc.
Berlin: Europe should face Donald Trump with "confidence", German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said on Monday, after the US president-elect had predicted that more EU members would join Britain in leaving the bloc.
"I think we Europeans shouldn't somehow plunge into a deep, great depression," Gabriel told Bild daily following Trump's own interview with the German newspaper and Britain's The Times.
Ahead of his inauguration on Friday, Trump had also described Nato as "obsolete".
"I don't underestimate what Trump says, especially regarding Nato and the EU, but a little bit of self-confidence would serve us well in such a situation," added Gabriel.
"Look at China, the place he has attacked the hardest, and how relaxed the Chinese have been in their reaction.
"Maybe there is something to be learned from that.
"Europe in this current weak phase has to pull itself together, has to act with confidence and in its own interest."
Germans and Europeans "are not somehow inferior, we have something to offer", he added.
Gabriel, a Social Democrat who is expected to run for chancellor against centre-right incumbent Angela Merkel in elections later this year, was the first German politician to react to the lengthy Trump interview.
As Merkel's current junior partner in a right-left coalition, Gabriel defended the government's open-door policy to refugees, which Trump had slammed as Merkel's "catastrophic mistake".
He insisted the refugees, branded as "illegals" by Trump, had mostly fled war and turmoil in the Middle East, but Gabriel did agree with the president-elect that the US invasion of Iraq may have been America's worst ever mistake.
"There is a connection between the flawed US interventions, especially in terms of the Iraq war" and the refugee crisis, said Gabriel, adding that the migrant influx "confronted us in Europe, not the United States".
On the apparently friendly relations so far between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Gabriel said that reduced East-West confrontation "is, first and foremost, sensible".
However, he said that "we are all viewing with a little bit of concern that Trump and Putin are in agreement on the wrong questions".
He added that "if the USA really wants to retreat from the Middle East, then it can't be in Europe's interest if Russia fills the vacuum".
On Trump's warning he would impose punitive tariffs on carmakers that produce in Mexico, including Germany's BMW, Gabriel warned that this would make the American car industry "worse, weaker and more expensive".
Responding to Trump's criticism that there are too few US-made cars on German roads, Gabriel said that "the US will have to build better cars".
US gun violence an ‘epidemic’, ‘international embarrassment’, Joe Biden says after Colorado, Georgia shootings
Biden's six measures to combat the epidemic included a proposed rule to ‘stop proliferation of ghost guns’, as firearms built from home kits are known
India conveys concern after US Navy announces its freedom of navigation ops in Indian EEZ without consent
In a statement, the US Navy's 7th Fleet said, 'This operation upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognised in international law by challenging India's excessive maritime claims'
US Navy conducts 'freedom of navigation' operation in Indian waters without New Delhi's prior consent
India requires that other countries should take prior consent from it to conduct military exercises or manoeuvres in its exclusive economic zone or continental shelf, which the US Navy statement claimed was inconsistent with international law