Is the grand alliance between the United States and Western European nations — the alliance that has kept the world in relative peace and prosperity since the end of World War II — finally being rent asunder by the weight of the Donald Trump presidency?
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That is the distinct impression one gets from the statement made by European Council President Donald Tusk in his scathing attack on both Trump and British Prime Minister — and Brexit cheerleader — Boris Johnson as leaders from around the world gathered at the French resort of Biarritz for the G7 summit.
Mr. Tusk was blunt in his assessment of the danger that the fractious diplomacy of the Trump era has wrought on top of the already difficult Brexit negotiations.
“This is another G7 summit which will be a difficult test of unity and solidarity of the free world and its leaders,” Mr Tusk declared. “The last years have shown that it is increasingly difficult for all of us to find common language when the world needs our co-operation more, not less. This may be the last moment to restore our political community,” he continued.
“There is still no certainty whether the group will be able to find common solutions . . . or whether it will focus on senseless disputes among each other,” he said.
Tusk was just as blunt in his reaction to Trump’s protectionist tariff threats against the French wine industry.
“I will protect French wine with genuine determination…The EU stands by France. If the US imposes tariffs on France the EU will respond in kind,” he vowed.
“The last thing we need and want is confrontation, especially with our best ally the US. And this is not our initiative, this trade and tariff struggle,” he reminded his audience.
“We have to be ready and we are ready as a whole. France can count on our loyalty as all member states do. Not only because of politics, not only because of solidarity but also because of substance – we will be loyal towards France here.”
“We need to talk about putting a stop to trade wars,” he later added.
The E.U. Council President also dropped a pail of cold water on Trump’s desire to reinstate Russia as part of the group — restoring it to the G-8 name it used before Russia was unceremoniously booted out of the annual meeting of the world’s most advanced economies for its illegal and internationally unrecognized annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
“Under no condition can we agree with this logic,” Mr Tusk said of Trump’s proposal today, explaIning that reasons for Russia’s expulsion “are still valid”.
“When Russia was invited to the G7 the first time, it was believed that it would pursue the path of liberal democracy, rule of law and human rights,” he said. “Is there anyone among us who can say with full conviction, not out of business calculation, that Russia is on that path?,” he asked with an implied nod in Donald Trump’s direction.
He added that he wished instead to invite Ukraine, as a guest, to the next G7 summit, and warned of the meeting’s importance in the face of increasingly fractured global ties.
You can watch an excerpt of European Council President Donald Tusk’s remark at the G-7 summit today in the video below.
G7 News: Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, announces that “under no condition” will the EU agree to Trump’s suggestion to invite Russia back into the G7. In fact, Ukraine may be invited as a guest to next year’s summit. #G7Biarritz #G7Summit pic.twitter.com/e2iL6v1Sq8
— Stephanie Kennedy (@WordswithSteph) August 24, 2019
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Original reporting by Michael Peel, Victor Mallet, and Aime Williams at The Financial Times and by Andy Gregory at The Independent (UK).