segunda-feira, 29 de maio de 2017

Macron-Trump Handshake Under the Microscope / What Angela Merkel meant at the Munich beer hall / New French president promises tough talk at first Putin meeting

Depois das declarações de Merkel dirigidas a Trump e ao Reino Unido. Depois do aperto de mão simbólico com Trump, Macron promete firmeza no seu encontro com Putin.

What Angela Merkel meant at the Munich beer hall
Spoiler alert: The German chancellor didn’t just throw in the towel on the alliance with America.

By           MATTHEW KARNITSCHNIG         5/28/17, 11:31 PM CET Updated 5/29/17, 8:07 AM CET

BERLIN — Did Angela Merkel just draw a line under the Western postwar order?

A comment by Merkel on a campaign stop in a Bavarian beer tent on Sunday sent the liberal Twittersphere into a frenzy (Edward Snowden called it “an era-defining moment.”) Merkel, mentioning both the U.S. and Brexit, told her audience it was time for Europe to “take our fate into our own hands.”

“The era in which we could fully rely on others is over to some extent,” Merkel said, before adding, “That’s what I experienced over the past several days.”

The qualifiers “fully” and “some extent” weren’t unintentional; with this German chancellor, little is.

So what at first listen may sound like a major departure from Germany’s commitment to the transatlantic alliance is, in fact, consistent with Merkel’s rhetoric ever since Donald Trump was elected U.S. president. It’s also in keeping with her agenda to push European integration forward, a goal she believes the election of Emmanuel Macron as French president has put within reach. And it may signal that Merkel, for the first time in her dozen years in power and approaching her fourth election in September, sees Europe as a vote winner as it was for Macron.

Merkel has been subtly distancing herself from Trump for months. Addressing Europe’s transatlantic ties back in January, she said: “There are no unlimited guarantees for close cooperation with us Europeans. That’s why I’m convinced that Europe and the EU will have to learn to take more responsibility in the future.”

She added that it would be “naïve” for Europe to “always depend on others to resolve problems in our neighborhood.”

German Chancellor and Chairwoman of the German Christian Democrats (CDU) Angela Merkel gestures during a speech at the Trudering fest on May 28, 2017 in Munich
While timing is everything in politics and the juxtaposition of Merkel’s comments just hours after a divisive G7 summit is notable, it would be a mistake to read too much into them.

Were Merkel to signal a German pivot away from the U.S., she would hardly choose a Bavarian beer party as the venue.
Like any good politician, Merkel knows how to play to her audience. And in Germany, a healthy dose of U.S. criticism always goes down well, especially in the age of Trump — and as an added benefit, just a few months before a national election. Recall that Gerhard Schröder used German distaste for George W. Bush and a still-to-come war in Iraq to help him to an electoral romp in 2002. And for her part, Merkel hasn’t shied from embracing a still popular America president in Germany, Barack Obama, whom she hosted in Berlin only on Thursday, the same day she met Trump in Brussels. There’s a difference between German chancellors’ views about the U.S. and the person in charge at any given time.

It’s possible that Sunday marked the beginning of a tectonic shift away from the U.S., but it’s also too early to say. Speaking on Sunday, European Council President Donald Tusk suggested the EU has little to gain from going ahead on its own — even if it wanted to.

That said, were Merkel, ever a cautious leader, to signal a German pivot away from the U.S., she would hardly choose a Bavarian beer party as the venue.

While it’s no secret that Merkel and Trump don’t see eye-to-eye on several fronts, including on climate and trade, the German leader, a long-term strategist, would no more call Germany’s relationship with the U.S. into question than she would her country’s European commitment.

For better or worse, the U.S., both in terms of trade and security, is Germany’s indispensable partner, a reality even Trump is unlikely to change any time soon. Whether on Russia, or NATO, or even the Paris climate change pact that spoiled the G7 party in Sicily, Merkel has time and again made clear that in her view, no matter who sits in the White House, Europe needs America.


Matthew Karnitschnig

Angela Merkel: EU cannot completely rely on US and Britain any more
German chancellor tells election rally in Munich that Europe must take its fate into its own hands after ‘unsatisfactory’ G7 talks

Jon Henley European affairs correspondent
Sunday 28 May 2017 23.28 BST First published on Sunday 28 May 2017 16.42 BST

Europe can no longer completely rely on its longstanding British and US allies, Angela Merkel has warned – saying the EU must now be prepared to “take its fate into its own hands”.

Speaking after bruising meetings of Nato and the G7 group of wealthy nations last week, the German chancellor suggested the postwar western alliance had been badly undermined by the UK’s Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election as US president.

“The times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over,” she told an election rally in Munich on Sunday. “I’ve experienced that in the last few days. We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands.”

The chancellor told a 2,500-strong crowd in the Bavarian capital that Germany and Europe would naturally strive to remain on good terms with the US, Britain and other countries, “even with Russia”, but added: “We have to know that we must fight for our future on our own, for our destiny as Europeans.”

The two-day G7 summit in Italy pitted the US president – whom Merkel did not mention by name – against the leaders of Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Japan on several issues.

The leaders vowed to fight protectionism, reiterating a “commitment to keep our markets open”; step up pressure on North Korea; cooperate more closely on terrorism; and look into placing tougher sanctions on Russia.

But while six of the seven renewed their commitment to the 2015 Paris accord on climate change, Trump said he needed more time to decide.

During his election campaign, Trump frequently questioned the value of the EU, welcomed Britain’s vote to leave the bloc and spoke positively of anti-EU politicians such as the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Merkel said the result of the talks, which she described as “six against one”, was “very difficult, if not to say very unsatisfactory”. Trump was more positive on Twitter, saying: “Just returned from Europe. Trip was a great success for America. Hard work but big results!”

At the Nato summit in Brussels on Thursday, Trump repeated past accusations that other members of the alliance were failing to match America’s military spending commitment of 2% of GDP, saying this was “not fair” on US taxpayers.

He failed to endorse the pact’s article five mutual defence clause – an omission seen as especially striking as he was unveiling a memorial to those killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the US, the only time it has been triggered.

The US president reportedly described German trade practices as “bad, very bad” in separate talks in Brussels and complained that Germany, Europe’s largest economy, sells too many cars to the US.

By contrast, Merkel said she wished the new French president, Emmanuel Macron, every success and promised Germany would do what it could to help France in a bid to revive the ailing Franco-German engine that long powered Europe.

“Where Germany can help, Germany will help,” she said to loud applause, “because Germany can only do well if Europe is doing well.”

Responding to Merkel’s plea for EU unity, likely to be significant in view of Britain’s upcoming Brexit negotiations with the EU27, the Liberal Democrats said they were the “inevitable outcome” of Theresa May’s decision to position herself closeley with Trump.

“The prime minister has allied herself with Donald Trump and these comments are the inevitable outcome,” Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said. “It doesn’t have to be this way; a vote for the Liberal Democrats can change Britain’s future.”

Merkel, who faces a delicate balancing act in seeking to preserve the transatlantic alliance while campaigning for re-election, was unusually blunt in her assessment Trump’s refusal to commit on climate change – a key concern for many German voters.

Polls show the chancellor, in power since 2005, is on course to be re-elected for a fourth term in September, with her lead in the polls over a revived Social Democrat opposition widening to double digits.

The Paris accords were “not just any old agreement, but a central agreement for shaping globalisation,” the German chancellor said, stressing that there were at present “no signs of whether the US will stay in the Paris accords or not”.

Macron, however, was more optimistic about the relationship with Trump. “I met a leader who has strong convictions on a number of subjects, some of which I share, such as terrorism or upholding our rank in the league of nations,” the French president said.

“It was a first experience for both of us and he saw the interest of a multilateral discussion.” Macron added that the two days of wrangling represented “progress”, and refusing to enter into a “logic of six against one”.

“It’s not in our interest,” he said. “There are disagreements around the table. There was one at this point on climate, but I hope we’ll reduce that gap. Mr Trump is a pragmatist and I’m hopeful that once he considers all the arguments we made and in the interests of his country he will confirm his commitment.”

New French president promises tough talk at first Putin meeting

By Michel Rose and John Irish | VERSAILLES, FRANCE

New French President Emmanuel Macron is promising tough talk at his first meeting with Vladimir Putin on Monday, following an election campaign when his team accused Russian media of trying to interfere in the democratic process.

Macron, who took office two weeks ago, has said that dialogue with Russia is vital in tackling a number of international disputes. Nevertheless, relations have been beset by mistrust, with Paris and Moscow backing opposing sides in the Syrian civil war and at odds over the Ukraine conflict.

Fresh from talks with his Western counterparts at a NATO meeting in Brussels and a G7 summit in Sicily, Macron will host the Russian president at the palace of Versailles outside Paris.

Amid the baroque splendor, Macron will use an exhibition on Russian Tsar Peter the Great at the former royal palace to try to get Franco-Russian relations off to a new start.

"It's indispensable to talk to Russia because there are a number of international subjects that will not be resolved without a tough dialogue with them," Macron said.

"I will be demanding in my exchanges with Russia," the 39-year-old president told reporters at the end of the G7 summit on Saturday, where the Western leaders agreed to consider new measures against Moscow if the situation in Ukraine did not improve.

Relations between Paris and Moscow were increasingly strained under former President Francois Hollande. Putin, 64, canceled his last planned visit in October after Hollande said he would see him only for talks on Syria.

Then during the French election campaign the Macron camp alleged Russian hacking and disinformation efforts, at one point refusing accreditation to the Russian state-funded Sputnik and RT news outlets which it said were spreading Russian propaganda and fake news.

Two days before the May 7 election runoff, Macron's team said thousands of hacked campaign emails had been put online in a leak that one New York-based analyst said could have come from a group tied to Russian military intelligence.

Moscow and RT itself rejected allegations of meddling in the election.

Putin also offered Macron's far-right opponent Marine Le Pen a publicity coup when he granted her an audience a month before the election's first round.

Macron decisively beat Le Pen, an open Putin admirer, and afterwards the Russian president said in a congratulatory message that he wanted to put mistrust aside and work with him.

Hollande's former diplomatic adviser, Jacques Audibert, noted how Putin had been excluded from what used to be the Group of Eight nations as relations with the West soured. Meeting in a palace so soon after the G7 summit was a clever move by Macron.

    "Putin likes these big symbolic things. I think it's an excellent political opportunity, the choice of place is perfect," he told CNews TV. "It adds a bit of grandeur to welcome Putin to Versailles."

The Versailles exhibition commemorates a visit to France 300 years ago by Peter the Great, known for his European tastes.

A Russian official told reporters in Moscow on Friday that the meeting was an opportunity "to get a better feel for each other" and that the Kremlin expected "a frank conversation" on Syria.

While Moscow backs President Bashar al-Assad, France supports rebel groups trying to overthrow him. France has also taken a tough line on European Union sanctions on Russia, first imposed when it annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and cancelled a $1.3 billion warship supply contract in 2015.

    During the campaign, Macron backed expanded sanctions if there were no progress with Moscow implementing a peace accord for eastern Ukraine, where Kiev's forces have been battling pro-Russian separatists.

Since being elected, Macron appears to have toned down the rhetoric, although he noted the two leaders still had "diverging positions" in their first phone call.

Macron has said his priority in Syria was crushing the Islamic State group, which will resonate with Putin.

One French diplomat said Macron was insisting on talking more after several years when everyone took France's hard line for granted, making compromise difficult.

"Macron gave himself enough wiggle room, which opens up a new diplomatic and political window," said the diplomat.

(Editing by Adrian Croft and David Stamp)

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