BERLIN: European leaders head to Berlin on Friday to seek assurances from US President Barack Obama on the course that Donald Trump might take, given the populist mogul’s pledges to shake up the world order.
Trump’s election upset has rattled European nerves, as he appeared to call into question a near 70-year-old security shield for US allies under NATO, and vowed to withdraw from hard-fought deals on the climate and Iran’s nuclear program.
His friendly disposition towards Russian President Vladimir Putin also raised questions on his attitude toward Moscow’s backing for President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian war as well as Russia’s role in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Ahead of the talks, Obama sounded a note of cautious optimism that Trump could change his position once he takes on the role as president.
“There’s something about the solemn responsibilities of that office … that forces you to focus, that demands seriousness,” Obama said at a press conference following a meeting with his host German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“And if you’re not serious about the job, then you probably won’t be there very long. Because it will expose problems,” he added.
But Obama also stressed the importance of a united Europe, and urged the bloc not to take for granted the transatlantic relationship that has been built up over decades.
“The EU [European Union] remains one of the world’s great political and economic achievements, and those achievements should not be taken for granted,” he said.