President Barack Obama has debriefed the press along with Germany’s Angela Merkel following a day of talks on the US president’s farewell to Europe trip.
Eight years previously a darker-haired Obama had visited Berlin three months before he had even conquered the White House for the first time. Two hundred thousand people turned out to give him the sort of rapturous welcome normally received for musicians or sports stars.
A lot of water has flowed beneath the bridge since then, with mutual strains on relationships, but Obama was fulsome in his praise of his partner Merkel. “I could not ask for a steadier nor more reliable partner than her”, he said.
They both stressed the things the two continents share, and indicated they spoke of Syria, Ukraine and trade in which they were, in principle, in step.
Obama foresaw no radical change in the US-European relationship despite the change in the White House.
‘‘The committement of the United States to Europe is enduring and it is rooted in the values that we share. The values that Angela just mentioned. Our commitment to democracy, our commitment to the rule of law, our commitment to the dignity of all people.
In our own countries and around the world our alliance with our NATO partners has been a cornerstone of US foreign policy for nearly 70 years, in good times and bad, and through presidents of both parties, because the United States has a fundamental interest in Europe’s stability and security,’ he said.
Obama did express hope Donald Trump, who today spoke to the leaders of the Netherlands, Azerbaijan and Poland, would not cut deals for convenience’s sake, adding global action was needed to stop a “cyber arms race”. He said Trump’s against-the-polls victory was “the most spectacular political upset in American history”.
He repeated his insistence expressed in Greece for a globalisation that floated more boats and that offered visibly more benefits to European electors to counter those for whom nationalist parties seemed to offer better political solutions.
“Europe’s recent achievements in the last 70 years have led to unprecedented prosperity and security, made possible by working together,” he added, observing that if you should seek “a model for what is possible than look at Germany, Berlin, and Angela Merkel’s own incredible story.”