Trump and Merkel are “totally respectful” of each other
Heute erscheint in der Weltwoche ein längeres Interview, das Urs Gehriger und ich mit dem Botschafter der USA in Berlin, Richard Grenell, geführt haben. Hier finden Sie die englische Fassung. Die deutsche Version stellen wir morgen früh auf Achgut.com online.
German media reported today, "Shortly before Trump's planned trips to Europe, the US tightened the tone and threatened to withdraw part of its troops from Germany once again.” Mr. Ambassador, what will be left of the US - German friendship once you have moved US troops to Poland?
Well, first of all, the President hasn’t made any decisions on that. So, anyone reading into a decision being made is not accurate.
Is it pending?
No. Look, I think the German media, the European media, largely missed what President Trump said in Washington when he was standing with [Polish] President Andrzej Duda. His point is that the 2% commitment is a NATO commitment, and it's an obligation that we think is very important. He made that clear. President Trump said, “Germany is at 1 percent. They should be at 2 percent, and they’re not getting there fast. We have 52,000 military personnel in Germany. We’ve had them there for a long, long time. So, we’d be, probably, moving a certain number of troops to Poland, if we agree to do it.” The reality is that that's not a decision yet, and my comments were simply highlighting what the President already said. I am talking about the reality. Once again, some in the media are playing fast and loose.
The news in the US gives the impression that Germany and all of Europe is becoming less and less important for the Americans. Is that correct?
No, I don't think so. I think the Europeans are incredibly important for the Americans. One of the reasons I wanted this job [as ambassador to Germany] was because the E3 — the British, the French, and the Germans — are an incredibly important negotiator to the work that the United States does. I saw that at the United Nations. I saw that we needed to have the E3 as representatives of the EU reflexively with the West. We view the world in the same way. We believe in democracy, human rights, the rule of law and capitalism. This is why I wanted this position in Germany.
To put the relations back on the right track?
No. I would just say to deepen the relationship between Europe and the United States, between Germany and the United States, so that the West could be strengthened. We feel very strongly that Americans have sacrificed a lot for Europe, because we are friends.
Twice in one century.
Twice. We did that because we believe in the relationship, and we want Europe to be reflexively with the West. We're not asking Russia or China to build up their militaries. We're asking our friends, the Germans.
It's interesting that you mentioned the E3 and not the EU as a whole. Is the EU less important?
No. I didn’t mean to suggest a separation. There's no bifurcation. I think, just practically speaking, at the UN, where I came from, we tend to organize with the E3 largely because the French and the British were on the Security Council as a permanent member, and having discussions with the E3 was quicker and easier. But we absolutely recognize that this is only the start of the wider discussion that must be had.
You have tried to put pressure on the Germans in regards to the US-led mission to secure oil tanker ships sailing in the Strait of Hormuz near Iran. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany will not be taking part. Do you take “No” for an answer?
We didn't put any pressure on them, and I think that was overplayed by the German media. We simply asked. If simply asking is too much pressure, I think we have a different problem. To simply ask should not be considered pressure. Unless you somehow are not used to being asked.
(Broder) May I, as a German, say this: If the Germans ask some government to do something, that's diplomacy. If some governments are asking the Germans to do something, that's blackmail.
I think that we have a deep friendship, and we should recognize that asking for help and assistance and cooperation is not a threat. Suggesting it is a threat is unserious. Hier geht es weiter.