Can Europe bear up against Trump?
Europe has been left bewildered and unsettled by Donald Trump's interview with Bild and The Times. Nato is obsolete, Brexit is a good idea and Merkel's refugee policy is a catastrophic mistake, according to the US president-elect. Commentators hope that Europe won't be misled by his remarks and that it will develop a strategy of unity with fresh resolve.
EU urgently needs a strategy of unity
With Donald Trump's presidency about to begin Jutarnji list worries about peace in the Balkans:
“There is not a single crisis, from Ireland to the west Balkans, that the EU would have been able to solve without the US stepping in and playing a leading role. Today the situation, for example in the Balkans, is no longer stable. Any announcement that US commitment in the Balkans will be reduced will encourage all those who believe that the drawing of borders in this region is an unfinished process. And the EU would be completely powerless without the US, just as powerless to prevent a war as it was in the early 1990s. … Europe's leading politicians will be exclusively responsible for the future of the EU. They must work together earnestly and assume more responsibility. This is the only way they will be able to preserve European unity in these times of Brexit and with a man in the White House who is clearly unsympathetic towards the EU.”
Can the continent look after itself?
Based on the Trump interview transatlantic relations look set to deteriorate, Pravo believes:
“Unlike with Obama, the EU is not close to Trump's heart. He thinks Brexit is a good thing and he expects the EU - which he sees as nothing more than an irritating competitor - to collapse. ... This new rift is even deeper than 14 years ago during the dispute over the legitimacy of the Iraq war. Merkel has reacted diplomatically, saying that Europe holds its fate in its own hands and should continue to work together as it has done in the past to meet the challenges of the 21st century. But that also means it will have to accept that the US is no longer an unconditional ally. ... In a world where the cards are being reshuffled, Europe is obliged to look after its own interests. That is not necessarily a bad thing. But is it capable of doing so?”
We are the masters of our own destiny
In her reaction to the interview Angela Merkel warned the EU member states not to let Trump's criticism unsettle them. That is the right attitude, Corriere della Sera agrees:
“Will the inauguration on Friday in Washington be a day of mourning for Europe? The start of a political, economic and social nightmare for a society that is already weak and is now facing the coup de grâce? ... We Europeans would be making a huge mistake if, instead of defending our common interests, we started worrying about unlaid eggs and complaining about how for the first time since the end of World War II America is now neglecting or even opposing us. ... Europe has much to lose, but also much to win. Instead of leaving it to its slow death throes, Trump has put Europe on red alert. ... Now it is up to the Europeans, as Merkel says, to take their fate into their own hands. They are the ones who will decide their future, not Trump.”
Clueless about Europe
Donald Trump has no idea how Europe ticks, Sme writes bewildered:
“A few days before the start of his presidency, Trump is way off the mark with his ideas about Europe. If he really believes that Germany is an instrument for displacing the US in global trade, he doesn't even know the laws of economics. For a super-successful businessman that's surprising to say the least. The EU isn't just about business, it's also about things like open borders, freedom of travel and cooperation on many levels. About things that have brought Europe an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity. If the new president doesn't care what becomes of the EU - the Europeans certainly do. ... Further proof that he has no idea what's happening in our region is furnished by his statements that he trusts Putin as much as he trusts Merkel, and that Nato is obsolete. ... And all of this comes from the future leader of the strongest power in the free world.”
Powerless in the face of global developments
The interview has once again brutally exposed Europe's powerlessness, De Standaard believes:
“Every day it becomes clearer just how powerless Europe is in the face of this inversion of all values. Angela Merkel reacted yesterday by saying that Europe holds its fate in its hands. That is true, but that is precisely the problem. Faced with the challenge of having to guarantee its own security and stability for the first time in 70 years, the Union is completely divided. And that at a time when the risks are increasing on Europe's borders: Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu are oozing self-confidence. ... In Turkey Erdoğan continues to consolidate his power. The new White House may well leave Syria to Russia and Iran, and the butcher Bashar al-Assad will simply remain in the saddle. Europe must come up with a sharper response to this disturbing reality.”
EU has superpower potential
Europe's domestic and foreign enemies constitute an ominous combination that the Union must thwart in 2017, Jacques Attali writes in L'Express :
“For the three other superpowers this is the ideal year for getting rid of a potential rival. And to that end they will endeavour to join forces with those seeking to dissolve the Union from the inside. Because it's only within Europe that people believe the European Union cannot be the strongest world power of the 21st century. It's only in Europe that people want to revert to limited, provincial territories even though they have the chance to construct a great, democratic and sovereign nation that would be as large as its main rivals. ... This is the challenge facing Europeans in 2017: to survive the attacks from within and from abroad, the first of which are unintentionally bolstering the second.”