Backlash to Trump’s Interview

From NATO, Merkel to German car makers

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Trump’s recent interview with British and German newspapers has caused a backlash from different people or groups he targeted during his interview.

The U.S. President-elect said that NATO was “obsolete” which has created “worry” in the alliance, according to a statement by Germany’s foreign ministry.

The Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier said it was a direct contradiction with comments made by Trump’s incoming Defense Secretary.

Mr. Trump also said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a catastrophic mistake by admitting more than 1m migrants.

The President-elect also threatened that German car makers would be taxed at 35% for cars exported to the U.S. built in Mexico. The shares in BMW, Volkswagen, and Daimler fell after the threat, but BMW announced that it would stick to its original plan to open a plant in Mexico in 2019.

In his criticism of NATO, Mr. Trump said that NATO was obsolete because it was not taking care of terror. While saying that NATO was important to him, he stated that only five out of twenty-eight countries were paying a fair share which is “unfair to the United States.”

The figures released by NATO back Trump’s claim that only five members met or surpassed the set 2% goal of defense spending last year.

After talking to the Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg, Mr. Steinmeier said that the comments from Mr. Trump have caused “worry and concern.”

He also said that the comments were in direct contradiction with what Trump’s choice for Defense Secretary, Gen. James Mattis said at his Senate confirmation hearing.

Gen. Mattis had earlier described NATO central to the U.S. defense and had blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to “break” the alliance.

The Reuters news agency later quoted Mr. Steinmeier as saying:

“I’ve spoken today not only with EU foreign ministers but Nato foreign ministers as well and can report that the signals are that there’s been no easing of tensions.”

Last week, President Barack Obama deployed 3,000 soldiers, hundreds of armored vehicles, and 80 tanks in Poland to satisfy its NATO allies against possible Russian aggression.

Dmitry Peskov, President Putin’s official spokesman, said that it was too early to respond to suggestions that the U.S. sanctions on Russia could be lifted in return for a reduction in nuclear weapons.

Mr. Peskov also declined reports that Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin were going to hold a summit in the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik.

Responding to Mr. Trump’s “catastrophic mistake” comments, Mrs. Merkel said that EU had to take responsibility for itself. “We Europeans have our fate in our own hands,” she stated in Berlin.

Sigmar Gabriel, Mrs. Merkel’s Vice-Chancellor, suggested that Europeans should show more confidence in dealing with Mr. Trump as they are not “weak and inferior.”

French President Francois Hollande also came to the rescue of Mrs. Merkel and brushed off stinging criticism of Germany’s inclusive policy by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

“[Europe] has no need for outside advice to tell it what it has to do.”