VDL takes swipe at Trumps NATO stance in speech aghast

US has 'not recovered' from Trump presidency says AOC

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Speaking in Berlin, Ms von der Leyen described how she had been left “aghast” at Mr Trump’s comments in January 2017, when he reiterated that he believed NATO to be “obselete.” Mr Trump repeated this comment multiple times during his campaign for president in 2016.

Ms von der Leyen expressed her disproval for the former president at a speech for the award ceremony of this year’s Henry A. Kissinger Prize.

The honour was this year bestowed on James Mattis, who served as U.S. Defence Secretary under Trump until the end of 2018.

The award is reserved for individuals with significant contributions to transatlantic relations.

Following Mr Trump’s comment in 2017, Mr Mattis had told Ms von der Leyen, who was in her post as German Defence Minister at the time, that “NATO would remain the bedrock of American foreign policy.”

Ms von der Leyen recounted: “He made it clear that for him, NATO was the glue that held together the security of the U.S. and Europe.

“He made it clear that he cared deeply about the views of European allies.”

Ms von der Leyen added: “He found calm words of wisdom amid the storm.”

She lauded Mr Mattis’s dissent to Mr Trump’s NATO comments, saying: “He spoke out unambiguously to condemn acts that he saw as divisive and contrary to American values.”

She continued to praise: ““His powerful intervention resonated widely — in America and beyond.”

“His words reminded all of us that there was — that there is — a better America.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also sang Mr Mattis’s praises, adding: “In all of my years at NATO, I have never met anyone with greater respect for our troops, or known someone who is more highly respected in return.”

Earlier this year, Ms von der Leyen suggested that Donald Trump’s stint in the White House may have irrevocably damaged democratic values.

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Speaking at a virtual summit in January, she described how world leaders had become concerned with the ramifications of Mr Trump’s presidency in the long run.

She said: “A year ago, my bilateral talks revolved primarily around the question: Would the US government impose punitive tariffs on European carmakers?

“Today, a year later, we are worrying about whether democracy itself might have been permanently damaged in the last four years.”

Initial meetings of the European Commission President and the US leader in 2020, shortly after she took up the post, saw Ms von der Leyen describe how she was “looking forward to working” with Mr Trump and his administration.

She added: “The American people and the European people are good friends, and this is what we’re going to build on.”

Although Ms von der Leyen’s relationship with the Republican President soured, she has built a rapport with his successor, Joe Biden.

In a recent meeting at the White House, Ms von der Leyen posted to her Twitter followers that she and the US president had agreed on a number of key issues, including the fate of Northern Ireland.

She added: “President Biden and I agreed on the need to preserve peace and stability on the island of Ireland.”

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