BosNewsLife WORLD WATCH
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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
MUNICH/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)– Tensions have emerged between Europe and the United States over their future cooperation at the 56th security conference in Munich, Germany, that also saw violent clashes outside the venue. European and U.S. leaders showed opposing views on sensitive issues ranging from trade with China, Russia, and the Middle East to climate change.
Amid European criticism over his nation’s policies, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper tried to explain Saturday that China was a rising threat to world order.
He told the security conference in Munich that the world’s most populous nation steals Western know-how, intimidates smaller neighbors and seeks an “advantage by any means and at any cost.”
His remarks came while several European nations expressed frustration over the United States trade stance towards China. They fear that policy will negatively impact the global economy and trade.
However, earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the U.S. worldwide role despite misgivings in Europe. He vowed that Western values would prevail over China’s desire for “empire” status.
Pompeo was also seeking to reassure Europeans troubled by U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America first” rhetoric, ambivalence over the transatlantic NATO military alliance and tariffs on European goods.
That was in response to Germany’s president took an indirect swipe at U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday. Frank-Walter Steinmeier accused Washington, as well as China and Russia of stoking global mistrust and insecurity. He said their “great powers” competition” could also threaten a new nuclear arms race.
That’s why French president Emmanuel Macron suggested that Europe should move away from U.S. domination and formulate its policies. “The Europe that I have in mind is a Europe that is sovereign, united and democratic and acts as such,” he told delegates.
“In 10 years, I like to see Europe that has enough leverage to act sovereign when it comes to policies, technology, migration, defense, feeding the world and also in terms of climate protection and environmental protection,” he said.
“And a Europe which has relations with its neighbors, Russia and Africa and the Middle East,” the president added.
President Macron also indicated that France might soon clear the way for the European Union to launch membership talks with Albania and North Macedonia.
However, he still has reservations about the bloc’s enlargement ambition. Between the tensions, NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg urged Europe to remain close to its ally, the United States. “Some say that the answer is more Europe, and I agree. But this is only part of it because more Europe cannot mean Europe alone,” he stressed.
“Any attempt to distance Europe from North America not only weakens the transatlantic bond and our ability to compete on the global stage, but it also risks dividing Europe,” Stoltenberg said. “I don’t believe in Europe alone, as I don’t believe in America alone. I believe in Europe and America together.”
Not everyone was happy with what they view as a talking shop of the elite.
Overnight police clashed with demonstrators protesting the gathering of the world’s leaders in Munich.
They also protested against the security forces. Both outside and inside the conference venue, tensions seem far from over.