Trump deserves respect for winning US presidency, says Merkel

Nationalist thinking the wrong approach in a globalised world, chancellor argues

“I see no military solution for North Korea, I consider that completely wrong,” said Dr Merkel (above, with Donald Trump). Photograph: Michael Kappeler/Reuters

“I see no military solution for North Korea, I consider that completely wrong,” said Dr Merkel (above, with Donald Trump). Photograph: Michael Kappeler/Reuters

 

German chancellor Angela Merkel has said she understands the voter “fear of decline” that brought US president Donald Trump to power, but not the billionaire’s nationalist politics in office.

At a podium discussion in Berlin she said many Americans were clearly feeling angry from fighting wars the US “clearly didn’t win”.

“The insecurity comes from this idea that America is taking care of everything in the world, but not for us here in our states, where we have unemployment, we don’t have healthcare, or other things,” said Dr Merkel.

While the natural reaction was to turn inward, she said, nationalist thinking was the false approach in an increasingly globalised world.

“For America to be ‘great’ it has to worry about things beyond its own borders,” she said. “We can’t think that to become bigger others must become smaller . . . We should have the view that we can all win from globalisation.”

When Mr Trump took office, Dr Merkel delivered a congratulatory statement that offered the new president a close co-operation on the basis of “shared western values”.

After returning home from a disastrous G7 meeting with Mr Trump in Sicily, however, Dr Merkel warned supporters that the era when Europe could depend on others was “to some extent over”.

North Korea

Asked if the US could automatically depend on German support should it come to war with North Korea, the German leader said: “A definite no.”

“I see no military solution for North Korea, I consider that completely wrong,” she said. Instead she said Europe “can and should” be doing more to defuse the situation by peaceful, diplomatic means.

Despite Trump attacks on Germany’s defence spending and a trade surplus described as “very bad”, Dr Merkel pointed out she had never agreed with any leader completely in her career.

Conflict with other leaders had always been “definitely enriching” and a learning experience. Mr Trump was the legitimate US president, elected fairly after a gruelling election campaign that hardly anyone thought he could win.

He deserved respect for that, she said, and she looked forward to learning a thing or two from him, too.

In an abrupt change of gear from world affairs, the German leader told gossip magazine Bunte of her greatest weakness – “eating too much, too late” – and the secret to a good potato soup.

“I mash the potatoes rather than using the blender, so little bits are left over,” she said.

Asked by Bunte about her near-invisible husband, the scientist Joachim Sauer, the German leader said he was a great support behind the scenes.

“He supports me by doing the shopping often,” she said. “His help gives me the chance to concentrate on the election campaign.”