Policymakers see a change in Transatlantic relations: ECFR's Moller

TEHRAN, Jul. 25 (MNA) –Commenting on the necessity of a right balanced engagement between Russia and the EU, head of the ECFR Berlin office says Washington is after new alliances and European policymakers see a change in transatlantic relation.

After the World War II during the Cold War, economic and military weakness of the Europeans and common goals like containing the former Soviet Union led to increasing economic, political, cultural and security transatlantic cooperation and partnership.

Besides transatlantic cooperation, Europeans tendency to avoid another possible conflict in Europe resulted in further inter-European cooperation despite many differences. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and end of Cold War, inter-European cooperation accelerated and entered a new phase. Finally increased social, economic and political cooperation resulted in formation of the European Union (EU) which for the first time let Europeans to adopt a unified integrated foreign policy.

Despite the EU weaknesses in the field of security and its dependence on the US for its security the Union in two decades managed to be the best model of regionalism and turn into an economic superpower.

EU emergence as an economic super power has been the source of concerns for the US.

Differences between the US and EU over trade tariffs, NATO and other issues all resulted in the US President Donald Trump’s remarks that called the EU as an enemy of the US. Following his unfriendly remarks some EU officials reacted to his unfriendly behavior.

To shed more light on the issue we reached out to Dr. Almut Moller, head of of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) in Berlin.

Following is the full text of the interview with her:

Commenting on the recent tensions between Washington and EU, Dr. Moller said,” In Berlin, policymakers do indeed see a change in transatlantic relations. President Trump, unlike previous US administrations, is challenging the European Union as an economic and political umbrella for the countries of Europe, and is undermining unity in words, and with action. While the unusual rhetoric and style of the US President is creating a lot of attention, there is the view in Berlin that what really matters are the structural divergences between the US and European countries that one needs to focus on. There is the widespread assumption that even with another president (either Republican or Democrat) the US would have asked Europeans for a greater share of the burden to upkeep the international order, in particular in terms of investing more into European security.”

Referring to the Europeans reaction to current developments, she went on to say,”As a result, Chancellor Merkel has put forward her determination to strengthen the European Union in order to be able to protect European interests better. While the EU might look quite divided at this stage - in particular with the United Kingdom on its way out - what has happened over the last two years is that EU members realized the benefits of EU membership even more. If a country of the size and power of the UK is struggling with the prospect of being outside of the EU, how much more difficult would it be for smaller EU countries? This question has brought EU countries closer together. The trade dispute with the US for now has had a similar effect. Overall, there is a more volatile European and international environment, but also a determination in Berlin, Paris and other EU capitals to adapt to this environment and to protect Europeans from the negative effects, while looking for new opportunities - see, for example, the recent trade agreement with Japan.”

Moller added,” In the US, it seems that the consensus within the country that has carried much throughout the 20th century, that is to be involved in shaping the European and international order, is turning somewhat more inward looking. Having said that, the current US president is also looking for new alliances. However, his recent meetings with North Korean and Russian leaders are judged by their results, which for now have not materialized.”

Emphasizing the necessity of a balanced relation with Russia, she said, “From a European perspective, the problem is perhaps not that Russia is overly powerful, but on the contrary that it might be vulnerable, in particular in economic terms. Having said that, Moscow has quite a bit of spoiling capacity. European geography means that Europeans have an interest in engaging with a Russia that is able to meet its citizens' needs. Having said that, EU capitals agreed in their determination to condemn Russia's violation of international law, that is the annexation of Crimea. So it is important to find the right balance between engagement and red lines.”

She concluded, “On the Middle East, Europeans with the refugee crisis have experienced the direct impact of their neighboring region being in turmoil. Again, its geography makes Europe exposed, and makes Europeans more responsible than has been acknowledged in the past for what is happening in their neighborhood. A changing US engagement will mean once again that Europeans will have to step up - while being aware of the limits of their collective power, there is still room for European foreign policy to work better, and to look for new allies.”

Interview by Payman Yazdani

News Code 136042

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