German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on European Union members to increase their security and defence co-operation because there was no “guarantee of perpetuity” in relations with the United States.
Europe faced growing challenges within its own borders and in nearby regions, including migration, increasing terrorist threats, the war in Syria, violence in eastern Ukraine and poverty and famine in Africa, she said.
Merkel did not mention president-elect Donald Trump by name but clearly seemed to be referring to the incoming US leader’s campaign trail comment that he would consider a country’s contributions to the NATO alliance before coming to their aid.
“I am convinced that Europe and the EU must learn to take more responsibility in the world in the future,” Merkel told students in Brussels after receiving honorary doctorate degrees from Belgium’s Leuven and Ghent universities.
“Let’s not fool ourselves: From the viewpoint of some of our traditional partners, and I’m thinking of transatlantic ties, there is no guarantee of perpetuity for close cooperation with us Europeans. We have to continue to work at that,” she said.
Facing criticism at home for her “open door” refugee policy, Merkel also said Europe needed to accelerate its work on an entrance and exit registry to get a better grip on its borders.
She urged EU members to increase their willingness to compromise on issues such as illegal migration, including quicker efforts to return migrants who entered Europe illegally and were denied asylum.
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