Life In Berlin: The Future Of U.S.-German Relations

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The Inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States is just around the corner. It’s no secret that a majority of Germans believe his presidency will worsen the transatlantic relationship, with me is Sudha David-Wilp, senior fellow with the German Marshall Fund in Berlin.

"Sudha, we got a glimpse of what Mr. Trump’s priorities are at his press conference last week. How was it received in Germany?" I ask her.

"I am not sure we really got an idea of his priorities during the press conference," she tells me. "After listening to some of the nomination hearings, there are a lot of contradictions that are arising with what President-Elect Donald Trump has said on the campaign trail. So it still remains to be seen what actual policies will bubble up. With regard to the style of the press conference, I do believe it was quite surprising for many people, not just in Germany, but also in the United States.”

"One thing we did see: Donald Trump’s ongoing hostile relationship with the media," I add, "which is also true for Germany’s far right anti-immigrant party Alternative für Deutschland, the AfD. Just a few days ago, the AfD banned all German public broadcasters from a European right-wing parties conference that they will host. What impact will the Trump presidency have on Germany’s AfD party?"

"President-Elect Trump has certainly emboldened right-wing forces in Europe. So, I do think the AfD will look at his campaign tactics and try to infuse his language and his actions in the run up to the German elections this September."

"Donald Trump dismissed all of Obama’s Ambassadors. In Berlin, U.S. Ambassador to Germany John Emerson said in his farewell address at the American Academy that 'German-American relations go far beyond the name or political affiliation of the current President.' Do you think the relationship between Germany and the U.S. is strong enough to withstand the possible difficulties that might be brought on by the incoming Administration?" I ask her.

“I certainly do, it won’t be easy," says David-Wilp. "I think that after the NSA revelations in 2013, popular opinion about the United States definitely sank in Germany. I don’t necessarily think that the Trump Administration will be a balm for this, but I do think that the German-U.S. relationship is stronger.”

"Okay, and that’s also after his recent comments to the German newspaper Bild, where he criticized Angela Merkel for her immigration policy, where he says she made a 'catastrophic mistake.'"

“I think President-Elect Trump recognizes Angela Merkel’s power in Europe and beyond Europe," says David-Wilp. "I do believe both leaders realize they are not there for the long haul. And the German-American relationship will endure no matter who sits in the Chancellery in Berlin, and who sits in the White House in Washington."

Sudha David-Wilp is a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin.”