AACHEN, GERMANY – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Europe can no longer count on the U.S. for military protection and must “take its destiny into its own hands.”
Merkel’s comments Thursday reprise a theme she first sounded last year in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy, and his hectoring of European NATO allies for allegedly spending too little on defense. It’s her latest retort to Trump, who this week withdrew the U.S. from a nuclear accord with Iran that European powers say they will uphold.
“It’s no longer the case that the United States will simply just protect us,” Merkel said to applause in a speech honoring French President Emmanuel Macron, who sat behind her at a prize ceremony in Aachen, Germany. “Rather, Europe needs to take its fate into its own hands. That’s the task for the future.”
Many major global conflicts are happening “at Europe’s doorstep,” said Merkel, who expressed concern about the risk of war between Israel and Iran over Syria. While European Union countries have made progress on defense cooperation, the effort remains “in its infancy,” she said.