Trump challenges Germany and the EU

The UN General Assembly has become the stage for an unusual confrontation between US President Trump and the rest of the world. Trump threatens the EU, Iran and Germany – but only France’s Macron dares to oppose.

In his speech during the general debate, Trump first shot at Iran. He accused the leadership in Tehran of spreading “chaos, death and destruction”. He called on the states of the world to “isolate the Iranian regime”.

Shortly thereafter, Trump’s security advisor Bolton went even further. The hardliner concentrated his attacks on the EU. “The European Union is rhetorically strong, but weak in execution”, Bolton said.

The US would not allow “our sanctions to be circumvented by Europe or anyone else,” Bolton continued. Apparently he was annoyed by the EU’s “diplomatic declaration of independence”.

There was also a broadside against Germany and the planned Nord Stream II gas pipeline to Russia. Germany will become “totally dependent on Russian energy if it doesn’t change its course immediately,” says Trump.

This can certainly be interpreted as a threat of new US sanctions. Russia’s Putin has already indicated that he could finance the pipeline alone if necessary – without the German companies involved.

But anyone who had now expected the German government to contradict loudly is mistaken. Once again, it was France’s head of state Macron who took over the part of the Trump opponent.

Macron insisted on solving the Iran question “with dialogue and multilateralism”. He also demanded: “Let’s no longer conclude trade agreements with countries that do not respect the Paris Climate Agreement.”

This is a side blow to EU Commission President Juncker’s attempt to make a trade deal with Trump. Juncker is mainly acting as an administrator for German interests, the climate agreement does not (yet) play a role.

So there is a lot at stake in New York – the nuclear deal with Iran, possible US sanctions against European companies, Nord Stream and transatlantic trade. But Brussels is still doing “business as usual”…

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