Merkel on Trump: Terrorism not an excuse for discrimination

The German chancellor says Europe will build a relationship on the basis of shared values with Donald Trump’s government

German Chancellor Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that the European Union’s approach to the United States will be to continue working on the basis of shared values and a desire for trans-Atlantic cooperation.

“There will be areas where we are in agreement, such as the fight against terrorism, and there will be others where we do not agree. As I have said before however, fighting terrorism does not justify casting doubt on all people of a certain faith,” she added.

Merkel was addressing a press briefing at the Malta summit, where she said that the EU must learn to stand on its own two feet more than ever before, in light of uncertainty over the new politics of uncertainty that has characterised the first weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency.

“I have repeatedly said that Europe must have a common position, including on defence,” said the chancellor.

On migration, Merkel said that the EU’s strategy for the Mediterranean was “gaining in substance.” Earlier today, the heads of state agreed on a €200 million package the will see migrants stopped in Libyan waters, European training of the Libyan coast guard, as well as increased work with third countries, and control of the country’s land borders.

“Work is still ongoing on migration however it is now gaining in substance. After the Turkey statement, we must now turn to Mediterranean,” she said, adding that the EU had learnt valuable lessons from the past two years.

The EU’s main priorities for the deal, said Merkel, were to bring stability to Libya, and to tackle “human traffickers and the mafia-like structure” that exploits vulnerable people. “We must remember how many people have died in the Mediterranean, despite SOPHIA [the EU’s anti-human smuggling military operation in the Mediterranean].”

She acknowledged however, that Libya is going through a “difficult situation,” and said that the EU will have work closely with neighbouring countries to make the agreement work. “Libya does not yet have the necessary stability so we will also have to work closely with Algeria and Egypt to bring about a government of national accord that is worthy of that name.” Ultimately however, she stressed that the agreement is designed to start a process that will lead to Libya being “capable of tackling migration itself.”

Questioned by journalists on whether UK prime minister Theresa May is “too close” to the new US administration, Merkel said that she acknowledged that there has always been a somewhat special relationship between the UK and the US.

“I was pleased to hear Theresa May say that she wants a strong Europe. It is up to us, as 27, to determine how strong, and how good Europe is at solving its problems.” 

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