BERLIN: Emphasising the “historical friendship” between its people and Americans, Germany said on Wednesday it was still opening up channels of communication with aides to US President Donald Trump, who has launched withering attacks on Berlin’s policies.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the go-to European ally for former US President Barack Obama, who praised her as “an outstanding partner” on a farewell visit to Berlin in November. Under Trump, the relationship has deteriorated rapidly.
Last month, Trump said Merkel made a “catastrophic mistake” with her open-door migration policy. This week, his top trade adviser said Germany was using a “grossly undervalued” euro to gain advantage over the United States and its European partners.
“The German-American relationship is not just a relationship between governments,” Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters when asked whether “daily attacks from Washington” meant relations had deteriorated.
“It is a deep, I would say historical, friendship between two peoples. It is a union between two democracies. So it is a lot more than two governments – and it is a trans-Atlantic relationship,” he said.
Pressed on the attacks on Germany’s migrant and trade policies, and the euro, Seibert said: “We are at the very beginning of the cooperation with a new American government.”
A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Berlin was working on “establishing channels at the political level and then getting on with business as closely and with as much trust as possible”.
Ingo Kramer, president of the Federation of German Employers, told industry executives today that Trump’s actions and words were unsettling, but he hoped that Washington would not continue with its “retreat from the rest of the world.”
Gero Neugebauer, a Berlin-based political expert, said a barrage of critiques from Trump had forced Merkel to abandon her plan to refrain from public remarks about Trump.