US / German relations are about to change...
Donald Trump had a lot to say about Germany during his feature interviews with The Times and Bild.
This included labeling the country's decision to welcome migrants a "catastrophic mistake," saying that the EU is, "basically a vehicle for Germany," and that fresh tariffs could be on the way for German car firms selling in the US.
Sigmar Gabriel Germany’s deputy chancellor, and minister for the economy has responded to the US president-elect's comments. He said that Germany's response to the current migrant crisis is reacting to the fallout of US intervention in foreign conflicts:
"There is a link between America’s flawed interventionist policy, especially the Iraq war, and the refugee crisis, that’s why my advice would be that we shouldn’t tell each other what we have done right or wrong, but that we look into establishing peace in that region and do everything to make sure people can find a home there again," he said, as quoted in The Guardian.
He added that he believes that Mr Trump should not attack other nations contributions to NATO - as they face expenses linked to the displacement of people due to on-going conflicts in the Middle East:
"In that area Germany and Europe are already making enormous achievements – and that’s why I also thought it wasn’t right to talk about defence spending, where Mr Trump says we are spending too little to finance NATO. We are making gigantic financial contributions to refugee shelters in the region, and these are also the results of US interventionist policy."
The Social Democrat politician commented that while Germany will work with the US - it will also stand up for itself if there are areas of conflict:
"What he says about trade issues, how he might treat German car makers, the question about NATO, his view on the European Union – all these require a self-confident position, not just on behalf of us Germans but all Europeans. We are not inferior to him, but we have something to bring to the table too... Especially in this phase in which Europe is rather weak, we will have to pull ourselves together and act with self-confidence and stand up for our own interests."
On the issue of German car trade, Donald Trump said, "If you go down Fifth Avenue every one has a Mercedes Benz in front of his house, isn’t that the case?” ... How many Chevrolets do you see in Germany? Not very many, maybe none at all ... it’s a one-way street. It must work both ways."
When he was asked how the US can bridge this imbalance, Mr Gabriel suggests they, "Build better cars."