LUXEMBOURG: US President-elect Donald Trump must get up to speed on how Europe works in order to avoid “two years of wasted time” when he assumes his new role, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said Friday (Saturday in Manila).
“Mr. Trump, during his campaign, said that Belgium was a village somewhere in Europe,” Juncker said in his frank remarks to students in Luxembourg on the reality TV star’s stunning election victory.
“We must teach the President-elect what Europe is and how it works,” Juncker said, adding: “I believe we’ll have two years of wasted time while Mr. Trump tours a world he doesn’t know.”
Juncker said that Trump had called NATO into question, which could have “harmful consequences” because it is the model of Europe’s defense.
The populist had also “taken a view of refugees and non-white Americans that does not reflect European convictions and feelings”, he added.
In June, Trump caused mirth on the continent when he called Belgium a “beautiful city,” apparently confusing the country with its capital Brussels—the seat of the European Union and NATO.
“The Americans, as a general rule, have no interest in Europe,” Juncker said in his remarks to the students.
On Wednesday, after Trump’s shock victory over rival Hillary Clinton, Juncker and European Council Chief Donald Tusk invited him to a EU-US summit to discuss issues including terrorism and Ukraine.
“We should spare no effort to ensure that the ties that bind us remain strong and durable,” the two said in their letter to the president-elect.
Drop rhetoric, show leadership
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced confidence on Friday that Donald Trump will shed the strident rhetoric that propelled him to the White House and engage with the world to confront global crises like climate change.
Ban told Agence France-Presse in an interview that he hopes to meet with the US president-elect in the coming weeks to explain how the United Nations expects the United States to “continue to work for humanity.”
Trump won the US presidency on a platform that calls for closer ties with Russia, pulling out of the Paris climate deal, shaking up security alliances and questioning US funding of the United Nations.
“This is what he said during the campaign period, on the campaign trail,” Ban said in the interview at UN headquarters where the Trump victory has shocked world diplomats.
“Now, post-election, when he creates his transition team with experts and people with vision and expertise, I am sure that the United States will continue to play a leading role,” he said.
Ban spoke by phone with Trump on Friday afternoon and the two men agreed to stay in contact, said a UN statement.
Ban, 72, is stepping down on December 31 after 10 years as the world’s diplomat-in-chief with the biggest success of his tenure under threat: the Paris climate agreement.