Jeb Bush visits Berlin and talks tough on Russia

Likely Republican presidential candidate praises Germany’s approach to austerity

Former Florida governor and potential Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks to German chancellor Angela Merkel  after he addressed the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party economic council in Berlin. Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Former Florida governor and potential Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks to German chancellor Angela Merkel after he addressed the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party economic council in Berlin. Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

 

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush has praised Germany’s ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) for its fiscal discipline and demanded a tougher international line towards Russia.

On a flying visit to Berlin, days before he is expected to announce his presidential candidacy, the brother of one US president and son of another shook hands and exchanged a few words with Chancellor Angela Merkel after addressing her party’s economic council.

“Ultimately, Russia needs to be a European nation [and] everything we do should be to isolate its corrupt leadership,” he said, a day after President Barack Obama talked tough on Russia after a G7 meeting in Bavaria.

Mr Bush’s visit to Berlin has been overshadowed by lingering anger at the political legacy of President George W Bush’s war in Iraq – an anger that has all but overshadowed Bush snr’s contribution to German unification in 1990.

The visiting politician praised Berlin’s drive to balance its federal budget, much-criticised by its neighbours, as an example of “wisdom and political courage”, and called for agreement on a transatlantic trade deal “at warp speed”.

In a nod to ongoing debate over US surveillance measures, launched in the wake of the September 11th attacks, Mr Bush dismissed as untrue some claims about the National Security Agency (NSA) made by its former contractor, Edward Snowden.

Quizzed about claims the NSA is engaged in industrial espionage worldwide, Mr Bush replied that “the US doesn’t do it”. He added: “I thought you’re speaking about Google. ” With Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt also at the Berlin event, Mr Bush quickly apologised.