Are German Foreign Minister's remarks about Trump correct?
A recent poll conducted by CNN and the ORC research service showed that nearly half of Americans (48%) believe that the Russian authorities are trying to influence the results of the presidential election. Slightly fewer people (44%) believe that it is not true. In late July US President Barack Obama admitted that there is a possibility that the Kremlin is behind the hacker attack on the servers of the Democratic Party, as a result of which information that discredits the party leadership was leaked to Wikileaks. There is no doubt that the topic of Russia plays a huge role in the US election race, but after Donald Trump famously asked Russian hackers to find "30 thousand missing emails" of his rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, this trend only intensified.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin denies any assumption about Russia's interference in the election process in the United States. It would be fair to assume that Moscow is more interested in Trump winning, considering his recent statements about Crimea, NATO and the possibility of the cancellation of sanctions against Russia, but it is not advertised at the official level. Possibly for reasons of political etiquette, or even more likely, so as not to damage the image of its preferred candidate.
While American media and politicians discuss Russia's influence on the election race in the United States, remarks that Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German Foreign Minister, made during an interview with Passauer Neue Presse, came as a surprise for many people. "I'm seriously concerned about the fact that presidential candidate Trump challenged the entire political elite, despite the fact that he is part of it, and he received support precisely for this," Deutsche Welle reports Steinmeier as saying. According to Steinmeier, the picture described by Trump is grotesque. The billionaire says that the US is surrounded by internal and external enemies, that it is almost an occupied territory. But at the same time he urges the country to stay away from world conflicts. I cannot explain how one thing combines with the other," Steinmeier said. Trump's victory will make the future of transatlantic relations much more uncertain, he noted.
Such a clear position of the German Foreign Minister in the matter of the US presidential race surprised German experts. After all, by his remarks, maybe unintentionally, the diplomat is influencing the electoral process in a sovereign country. The fact that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Europe's leading country already doesn't like one of the candidates will definitely have an impact on the internal political debate in the United States, where foreign policy issues are very important.
Peter Beyer, rapporteur on transatlantic relations from the CDU/CSU faction in the Bundestag, said in an interview with the Deutschlandradio Kultur radio station that Steinmeier shouldn't have done it. "Of course he can have his own opinion, but in my opinion it is not a smart move to make such remarks as the head of the German Foreign Ministry," Beyer said.
American economist Irwin Collier, the head of the John F. Kennedy Institute in Berlin, warns: "They will still have to deal with Trump's electorate even after the elections. It is impossible to say who will win the election race right now, but it should be remembered that his voters will not go away."
The head of Kalter Krieg College in Berlin, Bernd Greiner, has a different opinion. He believes that Steinmeier's actions are reasonable. "Because he clearly outlined the problem and what the risks are when selfish nationalism comes into play instead of cooperative internationalism. It is necessary after reaching a certain point in the political discourse, so I see no problem in Steinmeier's remarks," he argued.
The editor-in-chief of Internationale Politik magazine, Sylke Tempel, agrees with the content of Steinmeier's statements, but not their form. "I think it's absolutely fine to outline a position and express a negative opinion on certain trends. But as Foreign Minister, Steinmeier should not mention specific names," she stressed.