LONDON — German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the European Union to take on more responsibility on the world stage amid a changing political climate.
On Thursday evening, Merkel received an honorary doctorate from the prestigious Belgian universities of Ghent and Leuven. Speaking to students in Brussels she warned about the growing challenges the EU is facing.
“Europe is facing the biggest challenges for decades,” Merkel said mentioning issues within and close to its borders including the migrant crisis, the Ukraine conflict, the war in Syria, and poverty and war in Africa, Reuters reports.
She also said that it would be “naive always to rely on others who would solve the problems in our neighbourhood.” The chancellor then called on EU members to increase cooperation in terms of security and defence as they cannot count on past relationships as much as they once did.
“I am convinced that Europe and the EU must learn to take more responsibility in the world in the future. 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.
Merkel did not mention US President-elect Donald Trump by name but seemed to clearly refer to his imminent rise to president.
The German chancellor is yet to comment on Trump directly, but her remark on the day he clinched the presidency seemed to be as much an offer of cooperation as it was a warning.
“Germany and America are connected by values of democracy, freedom and respect for the law and the dignity of man, independent of origin, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political views. I offer the next president of the United States close cooperation on the basis of these values.”
Merkel also commented on Britain’s vote to leave the EU, saying the continent should see it as an opportunity. “We should see this decision as an incentive to work together [for the goal] to hold Europe together now more than ever, to improve it further and to bring the citizens closer together again,” she said.
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