Obama's farewell to Merkel and Europe
On November 17, Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer was interviewed by Le Monde’s correspondent in Berlin, to discuss President Obama’s last trip to Berlin, and Obama’s legacy in Europe and transatlantic relations. She commented on the “special relationship” between Obama and Merkel during Obama’s two mandates, which she sees as the consequence of France’s and UK’s domestic weaknesses. Obama relied on Merkel’s leadership on Ukraine, Russia, the refugee crisis, etc. Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer said that “Obama went to Berlin to pass the torch to Merkel, to defend the liberal and democratic order,” but “Merkel does not want to endorse this responsibility alone.” This explains why “Merkel has convened a mini-summit with the French, Italian, Spanish and British political leaders.” On the German-American relations, Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer assessed what the two leaders had and had not achieved in Europe and internationally: “Despite very close diplomatic relations between both countries, they offer a mixed picture. They failed to preserve Ukraine’s territorial integrity, or to prevent Brexit from happening. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) jointly promoted by the U.S. and Germany and the inconclusive negotiations that followed is another failure of the U.S.-German tandem. They lost the control of events." Despite Obama’s disagreements with a few German positions (abstention in Libya in 2011, or Merkel’s austerity policies in Europe), it has become obvious that the Washington-Berlin link is an indispensable pillar of the transatlantic relation, especially vis-à-vis Russia. Trump’s focus on the “very special relationship” with post-Brexit U.K., will lead Germany, along with France, to redefine their position with Washington.
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