NATO is “obsolete”, Germany’s Angela Merkel made a “catastrophic mistake” on refugees, Brexit will be “great” and the U.S. could cut a deal with Russia: Donald Trump unleashed a volley of broadsides Sunday in interviews with European media.
Five days before his inauguration as the 45th President of the U.S., the billionaire leader let loose a torrent of controversial comments about European allies in interviews with British newspaper The Times and Germany’s Bild .
Hand to Russia
He extended a hand to Russia, which has been hit by a string of sanctions under his predecessor Barack Obama over Moscow’s involvement in Ukraine, the Syrian war and for alleged cyberattacks to influence the U.S. election.
“Let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia,” Mr. Trump said in remarks carried by The Times . The President-elect suggested a deal in which nuclear arsenals would be reduced and sanctions against Moscow would be eased, but gave no details.
“Russia’s hurting very badly right now because of sanctions, but I think something can happen that a lot of people are gonna benefit,” he said.
Washington’s European allies imposed sanctions against Russia over Ukraine in 2014. Those measures were renewed on December 19.
In comments set to cause further consternation among eastern European NATO countries nervous about Moscow following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and involvement in Ukraine, Mr. Trump said NATO was “obsolete”. “I said a long time ago that NATO had problems,” Mr. Trump told The Times of London and Bild , Germany's biggest-selling daily.
“Number one, it was obsolete, because it was designed many, many years ago. Number two, the countries aren’t paying what they’re supposed to pay.”
Trade deal with U.K.
In other remarks, Mr. Trump said Brexit “is going to end up as a great thing” and said he backed a trade deal with post-EU Britain, which would be “good for both sides”.
“We’re gonna work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly,” said Mr. Trump, confirming he will meet British Prime Minister Theresa May soon after his inauguration on January 20.
“Other countries will leave” the European Union in future, Mr. Trump prophesied, largely due to the pressure the bloc was put under following a significant rise in migrants and refugees arriving.
Mr. Trump also criticised Ms. Merkel for letting Germany admit undocumented migrants enter the country, insinuating that this posed a security risk. “I think she made one very catastrophic mistake and that was taking all of these illegals, you know taking all of the people from wherever they come from. And nobody even knows where they come from,” Mr. Trump said, adding he had “great respect” for the Chancellor.
In response to Mr. Trump’s comments, Chancellor Merkel said Europe now had to take responsibility for itself. “We Europeans have our fate in our own hands,” Ms. Merkel told reporters in Berlin.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Europe was stunned by Mr. Trump’s remarks on NATO.
“The interview statements of the American president-elect... caused, indeed here in Brussels, astonishment and agitation,” Mr. Steinmeier said as he went from a meeting with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg to talks with EU counterparts.— AFP