As Europe warns US, Trump says Russia should attend G7 summit

  • Mihai Turcanu
  • 9.6.2018 19:34

Ahead of his departure to the G7 conference in Canada, US President Donald Trump stated on 8 June that Russia should be attending the meeting of the group from which it was expelled in 2014, as a result of its military intervention in Ukraine. Trump's unexpected statement comes after he was criticized by French President Emmanuel Macron for his unilateral approach to international trade, and warned that he is isolating himself, as the rest of the G7, he said, could reach a deal without the US.

In addition to suggesting he could reach out to Russia in a bid to prove he would not be isolated, Trump once again lashed at his Canadian and European allies for what many Americans consider to be the unfair trade practices whereby they enjoy a large trade surplus with the US. If in relation to Trump's approach, Macron stated that "nobody is forever", Germany's Economy Minister Peter Altmaier stroke a more conciliatory tone expressing hope that Europe would not have to impose retaliatory tariffs and that productive dialogue could be sustained through an approach where both sides make concessions. He added, however, that the situation was very serious, and called upon the EU to show unity in face of this challenge.

Reflecting upon the trade question, but also on Trump's withdrawal from Iran and Paris climate deal, German Foreign Heiko Maas acknowledged in a Friday interview to Süddeutsche Zeitung the importance that the US has for Europe as an ally, but stated that the situation has deteriorated to a point where it simply cannot be ignored any longer. He pointed out the fact that Trump's approach on Iran is a clear example where his actions would destabilize a region in Europe's proximity, thereby deliberately hurting EU's security interests. Maas was also careful to point out the fact that a large number of Americans do not agree with Trump's approach, and that Europe must, therefore, keep in touch with American civil society, and also explore the possibility of forging closer ties with other actors in the Western hemisphere. Another point the Foreign Minister made was that the EU needs a more "agile" approach on security and foreign policy, whereby it would abolish the individual states' veto right, an approach also championed by Angela Merkel. But this is something that EU nations would have to agree on unanimously, and Eastern and Central Europeans would at least display some reluctance, as for now, the US is the only credible source of security for them, while for historical, and practical present reasons - such as the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, they tend to distrust Germany. But with Mr Trump displaying an increasingly mercantile, non-value based approach towards both Europe and Russia, as illustrated by his present statement, opinions in countries like Poland or Romania, or Lithuania could shift towards a more favourable attitude on deeper EU security and common foreign policy integration. The G7's official position is that Russia will once again become part of the group once it revises its approach on Crimea.

About author: Mihai Turcanu

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