BERLIN - Germans see U.S. President Donald Trump as a bigger challenge for German foreign policy than authoritarian leaders in North Korea, Russia or Turkey, according to a survey by the Koerber Foundation.
Topping the list of foreign policy concerns: Trump and the United States ranked as a major challenge, followed by Turkey, North Korea and Russia.
Since entering the White House in January, Trump has unsettled Germans by pulling out of the Paris climate accord, refusing to certify an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme and criticizing Germany’s trade surplus and its contributions to the NATO military alliance.
Trump’s actions prompted the usually cautious German Chancellor Angela Merkel to say earlier this year that Berlin may not be able to rely on the United States in the future. She also urged Europe to take its fate into its own hands.
In the poll of 1,005 Germans of voting age, carried out in October, 56 percent of Germans described the relationship with the United States as bad or very bad.
Despite Merkel’s pledge, the survey showed deep scepticism in the population about Germany taking a more active role in international crises, with 52 percent of respondents saying the country should continue its post-war policy of restraint.
That may reflect the fact that neither Merkel nor her main challengers in the recent election campaign talked much about how Germany should respond to the challenges posed by Trump’s disruptive presidency and Britain’s looming departure from the European Union.
Relations with the US will never be the same
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel offered a bleak view of international relations and Germany's place in the new world order at the Berlin Foreign Policy Forum on Tuesday.
The vice chancellor spoke about strained relations with the United States under the administration of President Donald Trump.
"The US no longer sees the world as a global community, but as a fighting arena where everyone has to seek their own advantage," Gabriel said.
Gabriel declared at a foreign policy forum that relations with the US will "never be the same" after Trump. He warned institutions like the EU and the UN that they were running the risk of becoming irrelevant.
"Germany can no longer simply react to US policy but must establish its own position…even after Trump leaves the White House, relations with the US will never be the same."
'A new nuclear arms race'But, Gabriel suggested, an inward-looking White House was no boon to Europe if the EU did not do enough to define its own interests.
"As the US has withdrawn from the international stage, nobody has turned to the European Union," Gabriel argued, claiming that the bloc no longer stood for a specific set of values and accusing members of treating the EU "as if they have a second one in their hip pocket."
"We could stand right now in front of a new nuclear arms race in Europe," Gabriel said, unless European countries stand up for the progressive ideals they claim to represent.
Germany's public international broadcaster-DW Reuters