Merkel statements foreshadow shift away from European dependency on U.S.

BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the European Union to be ready for world leadership should the U.S. give up this role. She also called for the need to communicate with Russia and strengthen cooperation because of Russia’s influence in several neighboring countries.

Previously, Germany faced severe criticism from the Trump Administration for not meeting the minimum military spending required by NATO. The U.S. announced the withdrawal of 9,500 soldiers from its bases in Germany as a way to pressure Berlin to fulfill its NATO obligations. In response to the U.S. pressure, Merkel told European media on Saturday that Europe must think about its place in the new global reality in which the U.S. is retreating from its role as the leader of the western world.

“We grew up in the certain knowledge that the United States wanted to be a world power,” said Merkel during the interview. “Should the U.S. now wish to withdraw from that role of its own free will, we would have to reflect on that very deeply.”

Regarding the U.S. announcement that it would withdraw thousands of its soldiers from Germany, Merkel commented that U.S. forces contribute to the protection of Germany and its European NATO allies, but also the interests of the U.S.

Merkel stressed the need for the European Union to continue its dialogue with Russia despite the serious disputes between the two.

The German Chancellor added that there are good reasons to continue constructive dialogue with Russia, as it has great strategic influence in countries close to Europe, such as Syria and Libya.