Merkel defends Russia ties, ridicules Trump on cars

Author : EU observer

Source : 112 Ukraine

The German leader once again reiterated that Russia attacked Ukraine in Donbas, annexed Crimea and violated the INF Treaty; on the other hand, the Chancellor has been protecting the construction of Nord Stream II
13:04, 18 February 2019


Russia could be a Cold War-type "partner" for Europe, German leader Angela Merkel has said.

But US policy on Iran was "depressing" and its claim that German cars were a "security threat" was "scary", she added in a speech at the Munich Security Conference, an international congress in Germany, on Saturday (16 February).

Russia had "illegally" annexed Crimea, "attacked" eastern Ukraine, and "violated" a ban on short-range nuclear missiles, Merkel said.

The EU ought to consider extra sanctions on Moscow over its recent naval aggression against Ukraine, she added.

But there was hope of returning to better times via diplomacy, she also said.

"After the fall of the Berlin Wall, we certainly had the hope ... that we could come to better cooperation," Merkel said.

"Today, in 2019, that seems like a long time ago ... [but] in a few years, it could look very different again," she said.

There was also nothing wrong in Germany's plan to build a new gas pipeline to Russia, called Nord Stream 2, she added.

Related: Poroshenko discusses with Merkel preventing Russian intervention in presidential elections in Ukraine

"If we got Russian gas already in the Cold War ... and the old German Federal Republic introduced Russian gas on a large scale - then I don't know why times today should be so much worse than we cannot say: Russia remains a partner," Merkel said, referring to former West Germany.

The chancellor spoke as EU foreign ministers prepared to add names to a Russia blacklist on Monday over its naval skirmish against Ukraine in November.

She has long supported EU and US sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

But she has also defended Nord Stream 2 despite US and wider warnings that it posed a strategic threat for EU energy security.

US rift

Merkel spoke amid an EU rift with US president Donald Trump on Iran and on transatlantic trade.

Trump, last May, walked out of an EU-backed nuclear arms control pact with Iran and has threatened EU firms with sanctions if they did business there.

He has also imposed tariffs on EU products, including German cars, which his administration has described as posing a risk to American "security".

"We have to be careful about this split [on Iran], which is very depressing," Merkel said.

Related: Europe will not interrupt relations with the Russian Federation, - Merkel

"Look: we are proud of our cars; and we may as well be. These cars are also built in the United States of America. South Carolina is the largest BMW plant - not in Bavaria, South Carolina," she added, referring to a German region and a US state.

The chancellor mocked previous US justifications of the tariff regime.

"If these cars, which are no less threatening by the fact that they are built in South Carolina than by being built in Bavaria, are suddenly a threat to the national security of the United States of America, that scares us," she said.

She made an impassioned appeal for a return to normal US ties.

Related: “Donbas crisis is far from settling down”, - Merkel also supports sanctions against Russia

"We have to fight for Europe. We have to fight for multilateralism," she said.

Her views were echoed by a senior EU official and a former US one at the Munich event.

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