13 Mar 2017

Merkel and Trump: Clash of Titans

Big week for world politics. The Netherlands and Turkey are in a diplomatic catch 22 due to important votes in both countries, Theresa May is expected to trigger Article 50, Scotland is to vote second time for independence …and Donald Trump and Angela Merkel are meeting on Tuesday. It’s almost like a giant political Luna park has just opened its doors.

The meeting, between two of the most powerful politicians on the planet, will be hosted in the White House and is expected with curiosity from the world’s media.

It is well known that both of the leaders have quite different views on many topics and the question that everyone is asking is: will they manage to find a common language?

From one side is the calm, sophisticated, detail oriented Angela Merkel, who has been ruling Germany for 11 continuous years and without a flinch, setting an example of success for the entire EU community. On the other side, we have the spontaneous, provocative and intimidating American president. They both have very distinguished opinions on immigration, defense spending, the role of EU and global trade in general. “Merkel and Trump really are the polar opposite of each other on so many levels,” Michael Bröning, director of the foreign policy unit at Friedrich Ebert Stiftung said.

To top that, the Big Trump Mouth has been accusing Angela Merkel for “ruining” Germany, for her refugee  acceptance policy and several times predicting that next time the voters won’t  support her . Merkel on the other side hasn’t replied in the same manner but she has become the Knight of the world liberal order that has been spread over the Western World for the last 30 years and which Donald Trump is trying to upend. He has already managed to upset some European allies with protectionist threats, praised the UK Brexit and called for immense increase on NATO budget.

However, the two leaders are both aware of the importance of “checking their diaries”, especially in the light of the coming G20 economical meeting in Hamburg in July. “I am pretty sure there won’t be a screaming match.” Peter Beyer, a German politician from Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Union party commented. According to him “Merkel is pragmatic and understands her role quite well”.

Another topic in the meeting will be the discussion of Trump’s push towards NATO members. He already threatened that the USA will leave the alliance if more of the powerful members won’t increase their input in the NATO’s defense programme from 1,2% up to 2% . Germany, despite its wealth has no intentions of meeting the 2% goal and Merkel’s role in tomorrow’s meeting will be to convince the American president of the reluctance of the European NATO members. She will be there to “confidently express German and European views” according to Rainer Arnold, a German parliamentarian, party’s senior spokesman on defense policy.

Angela’s Merkel’s visit to the White House will mark her third time of working with an American President. However, it may be the last. Germany will vote for the new Bundestag in September and Angela Merkel’s position is far from strong. She’s been criticised for her domestic and foreign policy and there are a few other hard decisions to be taken meanwhile. The successful outcome of  Trump’s meeting tomorrow can have a positive influence on her image.