Pence promises solidarity with Nato allies
US Vice-President Mike Pence has taken steps to allay the fears of Washington's allies during his first visit to Europe: "The United States of America strongly supports Nato," Pence said on Saturday at the Munich Security Conference. How much does this promise count?
Europeans breathe a sigh of relief
Mike Pence's affirmation that the US remains committed to the transatlantic partnership is a welcome departure from Donald Trump's critical rhetoric vis-à-vis Nato and the EU, the Financial Times comments:
“The occasionally jarring tone apart, this was a speech that almost any Republican vice-president might have given during the past several decades. ... James Mattis, the US defence secretary, and now Mr Pence have struck an altogether more conventional pose. Europeans must now cross their fingers in the hope that the two retain hold of US policy. ... There was one loser in the gilded hall of Munich's Bayeriescher Hof hotel. Sergei Lavrov, Russia's veteran foreign minister, might have hoped to have been speaking to a broken alliance. Instead his short speech on the 'post-western world' carried an unmistakable air of disappointment.”
Nato has renewed its wedding vows
The Europeans can head home from the Munich Security Conference feeling that a weight has been lifted from their shoulders, Hürriyet Daily News believes:
“Since U.S. President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the rest of the world has been trying to comprehend the new administration’s foreign policy orientation. Given Trump's mixed signals about the U.S. commitment to NATO and the European Union, transatlantic relations stand on tenuous ground. However, the huge U.S. delegation sent to the conference, which included Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary James Mattis and other senior officials and diplomats, was perceived as a positive sign of Washington’s continuing commitment to the transatlantic alliance. The MSC did, in this sense, enable allies to renew their wedding wows.”
How much say does the VP have?
Does US Vice-President Pence truly represent the White House's stance? Ilta-Sanomat wonders:
“Pence has years of political experience, and he brought with him a whiff of traditional US diplomacy. In comparison to Trump, whose remarks continually overshoot their mark, well-educated Pence seemed credible when he said that the US would continue to assist its Nato partners as long as the member countries commit more money to covering the rising costs of the alliance. ... His appearance in Munich raises the question of whether a political power struggle isn't playing out in the US. Trump, who rides roughshod over the judiciary and the media, is concentrating power in his own hands and those of his family. ... Pence stands for reason and constructive dialogue, but does he really speak for those who are closest to Trump?”
Delo, by contrast, doesn't trust the air of harmony that hung over Munich:
“US Vice-President Mike Pence did say that he remained very much attached to Europe and Nato. Nevertheless the new US President Donald Trump is casting himself as the defender of those who are considered the losers of globalisation in the US - and he will trample on the prosperity created by global trade. We should heed the words of the Russian foreign minister, who spoke of a post-truth era.”
Russia and US can't find common ground
Even though after the security conference in Munich it is clear that the US and Russia won't be teaming up against Europe the latter must do more to ensure its own security, Dagens Nyheter writes:
“Europe must recognise how serious the situation is. ... Regardless of what the US does, Europe's security is at stake. 'Closer defence cooperation' within the EU cannot replace real money. ... Russia's strategic interests don't correspond at all to those of the US or the democratic world. A clear example is Syria, where Putin supports the Assad dictatorship while pretending to fight terrorists. For the Russian president Trump's value lies in the fact that he makes the US look both ridiculous and unreliable.”