Merkel meets Trump

Following the first face-to-face meeting between German Chancellor Merkel and US President Trump the media discuss relations between the two. In particular Trump's refusal to shake Merkel's hand after being asked to do so by journalists has caused a stir. But what does the meeting say about relations between the US and Europe?

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Avgi (GR) / 20 March 2017

No rupture yet

Caution was the predominant feature of the meeting between Trump and Merkel, Avgi observes:

“The image they conveyed showed that they likely have different opinions on many things but are also willing to find common ground. … For example Trump insisted on talking about how the financial burden is to be distributed within Nato in the future. … But instead he reassured his guest of his commitment to the alliance even though just a month ago he described it as 'obsolete'. … No one can say whether there was any chemistry between the two, but there was no sign of the warmth - albeit superficial - that has characterised first meetings between leaders of the two countries for the past 50 years. On the other hand nor were there signs of open rupture. Perhaps because they haven't yet decided what interests they have in common and what divides them.”

Libération (FR) / 20 March 2017

Clear differences of opinion

For Libération, on the other hand, the clash between Trump and Merkel was inevitable:

“Could things have gone differently? Did anyone imagine that at their first meeting in the White House the American President Donald Trump and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel would join hands and announce their shared vision of the world? Of course they did nothing of the sort. It seems that the differences of opinion between the new US administration and Germany in particular - and the EU in general - are becoming clearer with every passing day. ... It remains to be seen whether Trump's attacks will push Europe to reconstitute itself. For the moment, nothing could be less certain.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) / 18 March 2017

Merkel even got along with Bush

It's premature to conclude at this stage that good relations between Merkel and Trump are impossible, writes Lidové noviny:

“The two met face to face for the first time on Friday, but we can't draw definitive conclusions about their relationship after this single encounter. It has yet to develop. And these things often take a different direction to what one expected. While ex-US president George W. Bush was generally considered an enemy in Europe the chancellor got on surprisingly well with him. There are pictures that serve as convincing testimony to this: Bush driving her round his ranch in a Jeep, Merkel showing him how to eat herring in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. … With Trump this won't be easy. Does he see her as the leader of a country one can reach agreements with? Or does he see her as the unofficial leader of the 500 million people in the EU with whom he will have to reach an agreement as a team? At any rate it's a little too early for Trump to invite Merkel to visit him in Miami or for her to invite him to Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.”

Evenimentul Zilei (RO) / 19 March 2017

Peevish president becoming a problem

Just how unfit Trump is for the highest office in the US became clear on Friday, Evenimentul Zilei comments:

“The US president received all the necessary briefing, he knew how to address each issue. ... More than that: he had pre-written texts that he read out more or less accurately. But in the moments when he had no script and when he had to go it alone, his character, his ego and his lack of education immediately became clear. Moreover, the strategic clout, the ease and the assurance displayed by the German chancellor - who counts among the world's political veterans - also made it clear to Trump just how poorly prepared he is. The only problem is that Trump is unable to learn from such situations. On the contrary: he only grows even more nervous and completely unfriendly. ... An impulsive, powerful and irascible president is not just a problem for the US, but for the whole world.”

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