Germany unleashed a volley of criticism against US President Donald Trump, slamming his “short-sighted” policies that have “weakened the West” and hurt European interests.
The sharp words from Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Monday came after Trump concluded his first official tour abroad, which took him to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Brussels and then Italy for a G7 summit.
They followed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s warning on Sunday that the United States and Britain may no longer be completely reliable partners.
Germany’s exasperation was laid bare after the G7 summit that wrapped up on Saturday with the US refusing so far to sign up to upholding the 2015 Paris climate accord.
Days earlier, in Saudi Arabia, Trump had presided over the single largest US arms deal in American history, worth $110bn over the next decade and including ships, tanks and anti-missile systems.
“Anyone who accelerates climate change by weakening environmental protection, who sells more weapons in conflict zones, and who does not want to politically resolve religious conflicts is putting peace in Europe at risk,” Gabriel said on Monday.
“The short-sighted policies of the American government stand against the interests of the European Union,” he said. “The West has become smaller, at least it has become weaker.
“We Europeans must fight for more climate protection, fewer weapons, and against religious [fanaticism], otherwise the Middle East and Africa will be further destabilised,” Gabriel said.
‘Take fate into our hands’
Germany’s harsh words for Washington, traditionally a close ally, were highly unusual and came as relations have grown increasingly frosty.
When Trump was inaugurated in January, Merkel had told the billionaire and former reality TV show star that cooperation would be on the basis of shared democratic values.
The relationship between Merkel and Trump contrasts with the warm ties between her and former US president Barack Obama – who last week travelled to Berlin to attend a key Protestant conference.
Obama’s participation in a forum with Merkel last Thursday came hours before her meeting with Trump in Brussels at the NATO summit.
At the alliance’s meeting on Thursday, Trump lambasted 23 of the alliance’s 28 members – including Germany – for “still not paying what they should be paying” towards the funding of the bloc.
After the NATO and G7 summits, Merkel said at an election rally in southern Germany that “the times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out. I’ve experienced that in the last few days.
“We, the Europeans, will have to take our fate into our own hands. Our friendship with the US, the UK, our neighbourly relationship with Russia and also with other countries count, of course. But we must know, we have to fight for our own future,” she said.
In response to Merkel’s comments, Britain said it would be a “strong partner” to Germany.
“As we begin the negotiations about leaving the EU, we will be able to reassure Germany and other European countries that we are going to be a strong partner to them in defence and security and, we hope, in trade,” Britain’s interior minister Amber Rudd told BBC radio.
“We can reassure Mrs Merkel that we want to have a deep and special partnership so that we can continue to maintain European-wide security to keep us all safe from the terrorists abroad and those that are trying to be nurtured in our country,” she said.
Separately, France’s Defence Minister Sylvie Goulard said that Trump’s broadside at NATO allies could boost efforts toward a common European defence policy.
“At a time when we want to take steps forward for Europe and its defence, it is a spur,” said Goulard.
Source: Reuters news agency
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Pope Francis to visit Canada to apologise to indigenous peoples for the Catholic Church’s treatment of aboriginal children in schools it ran there.
Starting in the late 19th century, about 30 percent of children of Canada’s native peoples, or about 150,000 children, were placed in what were known as “residential schools” in a government attempt to strip them of their traditional cultures and ancestral languages.
For more than a century the schools were government-funded, but many were administered by Christian Churches, the majority by Roman Catholics. Many children were physically and sexually abused.
“I told him how important it is for Canadians to move forward on real reconciliation with the indigenous peoples and I highlighted how he could help by issuing an apology,” Trudeau told reporters after meeting the pope on Monday.
He said he had invited the Argentine-born pontiff to make the apology in Canada.
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission said in a 2015 report that the practice, which kept children from the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples far from their parents, amounted to “cultural genocide”.
The commission made 94 recommendations, including that the pope issue a formal apology in Canada to survivors and their descendents for the Church’s “role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse” of the children.
Trudeau said in their private talks, the pope “reminded me that his entire life has been dedicated to supporting marginalised people in the world, fighting for them, and that he looks forward to working with me and with the Canadian bishops to figure out a path forward together”.
Canadian bishops have said the pope might visit next year.
Trudeau said he and the pope also discussed climate change. Unlike US President Donald Trump, who met the pope last week, Trudeau and Francis agree that climate change is caused by human activity.
“We talked about how important it is to highlight the scientific basis of protecting our planet and the moral and ethical obligations to lead, to build a better future for all people on this Earth,” Trudeau said.
At last week’s Group of Seven (G7) summit in Sicily, Trump refused to back a landmark international agreement reached in Paris in 2015 to reduce global warming.
Trump said he would decide this week on whether to pull out of the accord, which was backed by his predecessor Barack Obama.
Trudeau, who is Catholic, said he had “a deeply personal and wide-ranging, thoughtful conversation with the leader of my own faith”.
Source: Reuters news agency