On foreign policy, lets stop waiting for US decisions, says German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel

Sigmar Gabriel will give the example of the sanctions against Russia that the US Congress agreed on in summer and which could ultimately affect Germany's energy supply because they affect Russian pipelines.

By: Reuters | Berlin | Updated: December 5, 2017 7:53 am
Sigmar Gabriel, us, russia, us germany relations, Donald Trump Secretary of State Rex Tillerson answers a reporters question about North Korea while he meets with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, left, at the State Department in Washington. (Photo: AP)

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel will on Tuesday urge his country to become more assertive on foreign policy issues and less dependent on the United States, according to excerpts of a speech he is due to give, cited by the newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Traditionally close ties between Berlin and Washington have soured since US President Donald Trump took office in January. Trump has denounced Germany’s trade surplus with the United States, accused Berlin and others of owing vast sums to NATO and worried partners by deciding to ditch the Paris climate accord.

Gabriel will tell an audience of politicians and government representatives at the Koerber Foundation that the traditional view of the United States as having a protecting role is beginning to “crumble”, Sueddeutsche Zeitung said. He will say the United States under Trump, who has adopted a unilateralist “America First” foreign policy, was no longer fulfilling its role as a global political power to the same extent that it once was.

The United States might start looking at Germany in a different way than before, as merely “one of many partners” and so Germany will be seen as a competitor, Gabriel will say. He will say that Germany will continue to invest in its partnership with the United States but that Germany needs to be more assertive in representing its own interests.

“We must lay out our positions ourselves and where necessary draw red lines – among partners but also based on our own interests,” Gabriel is scheduled to say. Gabriel will give the example of the sanctions against Russia that the U.S. Congress agreed on in summer and which could ultimately affect Germany’s energy supply because they affect Russian pipelines.

Gabriel also warned against ending the nuclear deal with Iran, saying this would increase the risk of war and affect national security. Trump has refused to certify that Tehran was complying with the accord even though inspectors said it was. “In both cases Germany can no longer afford to wait for decisions in Washington or to simply react to that,” Gabriel will say, adding that Germany must analyse where it “disagrees” with the US. Gabriel’s Social Democrat (SPD) party has said it will launch talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives on forming a government next week if members of his centre-left party gave him the green light at a congress this weekend.

Turning to proposals by French President Emmanuel Macron to create a euro zone finance minister, parliament and budget, Gabriel will on Tuesday say: “On financial issues I wish the French would become a bit more German.” But Germany needs to become “more French” on security issues and Europe could only progress if Germany and France agree on “joint points of orientation”, he is due to say. He said France and Germany would have “many serious discussions” to come on economic and financial issues.

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