German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is urging a reset with the US after four years of turbulent ties with Donald Trump’s administration. Maas says both countries should work together to tackle anti-democratic threats.
Berlin hopes to strike a “New Deal” with the United States, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Tuesday, as the two countries look to mend relations after the departure of Donald Trump from the White House.
During Trump’s tenure, the US pressured Germany over its failure to meet NATO’s defense spending obligations, Berlin’s insistence on buying Russian natural gas and the EU’s trade policies.
Speaking at an online event organized by the US Brookings Institution, Maas told Americans that “Germany is at your side.” The countries should work together on democratic reforms abroad, defense and a common strategy on China and Russia, he said.
Germany’s top diplomat pointed to the coronavirus pandemic, saying it underlined why countries should work together. Closing ranks will prevent losing ground “to those who claim that authoritarian regimes can better deal with a crisis like this,” Maas said.
“We have reacted to the crackdown on civil society by Moscow and Beijing and the violations of international law by both countries,” he said.
He said he hoped that the countries would work on common positions “on targeted sanctions, something that was not possible over the last four years.”
Despite Trump’s departure, the US government still demands increased defense spending by NATO partners.
On Tuesday, Maas said Germany would “continue on the path it has taken,” having already hiked its military budget by 50% since 2014.
Berlin’s balancing act
His speech made no reference to the dispute over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea, which Washington believes will make Germany overly reliant on Russian energy.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has continued to defend the nearly completed pipeline as a commercial project to bring Russian gas to Germany. She rejected Trump’s demands to ditch it and buy liquefied gas from the United States.
At the same time, German government has tried to soothe some US concerns.
Germany recently extended its presence in Afghanistan and announced plans to sail a warship across the South China Sea, where Washington says freedom of navigation is threatened by China.
(9. 3. 2021 via dw.com)