Can Merkel influence Trump?
Donald Trump and Angela Merkel will meet face to face for the first time today. Many observers hope the chancellor will have a positive influence on the new US president by advocating liberal values and transnational cooperation. Others believe Merkel should follow Trump's lead.
Chancellor should make a few things clear
Dagens Nyheter hopes that Merkel will stand up for democratic values:
“A tug of war is currently taking place within the Trump administration. There are seedy characters who want protectionism and are waging a crusade against Muslims. But there are also those Republicans who follow the traditional party line on free trade and security policy. Globalisation has its weaknesses, but global trade is the motor of growth. What's more, the US and Germany have a shared interest in bringing order to the chaos in the Middle East. Merkel stands for democratic values. ... She can point out that a wall - the likes of which she knows from Berlin in the days of the GDR - is a bad idea. And she knows that the old German concept of order is preferable to chaos in the world arena.”
Make Trump a friend of Europe
Merkel faces the challenge of convincing Trump of the importance of transatlantic cooperation, comments the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:
“If she manages to somehow connect with Trump - who as we all know has rudely criticised her - and establish a resilient working relationship it would be no mean feat. Immediately after Trump took office Merkel reminded him of the Western canon of values - she was elevated to the status of 'counter-leader'. This may be flattering but the chancellor can't be the one to challenge him, also because this would expose the divided state of the Atlantic community. The chancellor's task now is to convince this president, in these times of great uncertainty, of the benefits of multilateral cooperation and that as far as Europe is concerned US foreign policy was a success. This also goes for America's patronage of European unity.”
Duel with the devil
For Trump Germany is de facto a hostile country, Lidové noviny comments:
“From his perspective it takes jobs away from Americans by flooding the US with Mercedes while the Germans don't buy Chevrolets. Germany takes full advantage of America's security guarantees but pays very little into the 'obsolete' Nato Alliance. What's more, Germany is the last cornerstone of the liberal West. ... With all this in mind, the outlook for the meeting seems bleak. There are politicians like [SPD chancellor candidate] Martin Schulz who take an emotional stance in such situations but don't achieve anything by doing so. And there are politicians like Merkel who attain their goals. It will be interesting to see how Merkel gets along with a man with Donald Trump's power instincts. It would come as no surprise if they both realise that they're in the same weight class politically.”
Who should show whom the way
Merkel would do well to follow Trump's lead in economic policy, Il Sole 24 Ore counsels:
“While America is already in the second round from an economic point of view, Europe is still in the starting blocks thanks to German resistance. Instead of talking about Russia and Nato, the American president should tirelessly insist that Berlin must finally fire the starting gun for an expansionary fiscal policy [on the part of the member states]. ... The turning point will come when Merkel sees that it was a mistake to 'keep Europe under wraps'. She will be forced to acknowledge the most recent US economic data: between January and February America created just under 500,000 new jobs, the Fed has raised the base interest rate, and on the same day the Dow Jones rose by 0.5 percent.”