This visit is difficult for Angela Merkel. Not because the topics are so complicated, they will talk about with Barack Obama.
The terrible Syrian war, the danger caused by the terrorist Islamic state, the debt crisis in Greece, the withdrawal of the British from the European Union and and and.
There are two oppressive days for the Chancellor because it is the last time that she has Barack Obama as a US president at her side. The mighty man who declared the German government to be his most important partner abroad. The relationship has not been conflict-free in the past eight years. But trustworthy. That is much. “I probably worked most closely with her,” Obama says about Merkel. The Germans probably celebrated him like no other.
It may be doubted that the Chancellor will build a similar proximity to Obama’s successor Donald Trump. But for Obama as well, Germany is a longing country. He wanted to go back to Germany to demonstrate the strength of the relationship. Many asked themselves, “What is that?” Hillary Clinton was still the favorite for his succession.
Now, before a completely new and unexpected background, Obama comes as a pardoner and declarer. And as one who wants to rescue his legacy, however mixed it may be, from the access of unpredictable political novices. He, who spent an hour and a half with Trump under his own eyes, suddenly became an agent – a hard job. Obama must now sell Trump, which he had certified just as incapable before less than two weeks ago, now abroad. Without harming his country, its citizens and the dignity of the office.
How well Obama can manage to cope with Donald Trump: The advisers of Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier are concerned that they will not be able to find a contact with the Trump troop so quickly – also because so far so good As there are no wires. It may take a long time before the fragments, which Trumps has left election campaigns, are at first swept together. Nearly all basic festivals seem to be shaken. What will become of NATO, the climate agreement, the nuclear agreement with Iran, the cohesion of the West against the claims of Russia?
The message of this visit could be this: The US remains an important partner for Germany – Merkel could do without the superlative of the most important partner – but now the Federal Republic has to take more care of itself. More independent. Maybe more adult. A farewell to America as a big brother.
After Obama’s arrival on Wednesday evening in cloudy weather, Merkel met with him at the Nobel-Hotel Adlon to match the mood of Obama’s supporters in the German government and the entire country. The chancellor wants to spend as much time as possible with him to hear what he says about Trump, how he sees him, how dangerous he might hold him. All this is closed off from the public, in a very small circle. Obama officially announced: “The next US president and I could not be more different.”
Even before their meeting, the outgoing president and the chancellor, who has yet to explain whether she wants to take part for the fourth time in this office, have promoted the controversial TTIP free trade agreement. Trump also considers this to be a devil’s stuff. In the “Wirtschaftswoche” Merkel and Obama write: “There will not be a return to a world before globalization.” Nevertheless, experts consider the agreement to be frozen – at least.
The Washington-Berlin axis is enormously important for the global economy and the G20 group of top economic powers. Speaking of the G20: The 19 most important industrialized and emerging countries as well as the European Union are visiting Germany in July. At least she would meet Trump, Merkel had said. This would be a very long time before the two governors would take contact from face to face. In May is the G7 summit in Italy. But even this opportunity would be plentiful.
In one point Merkel Obama will certainly disappoint. The Federal Government does not address its demands for further debt relief for Greece. There is a clear timetable for further action agreed in the Eurogroup. Thereafter, no further measures are to be decided until 2018. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is already pounding further relief. Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble considers debt relief for Greece to be up-to-date but is not appropriate and is therefore in the clinic with the IMF.
If Obama travels to Peru on Friday to his last summit of the Pacific region, he goes as a friend. On Thursday afternoon, Merkel and Obama go to the cameras together. The last time. Tears, probably neither the chancellor nor the president will come. But they will probably be wistful.