World

Germans see Trump as bigger problem than North Korea or Russia

BERLIN Germans see United States President Donald Trump as a bigger challenge for German foreign policy than authoritarian leaders in North Korea, Russia or Turkey, according to a survey by the Koerber Foundation.

Refugees topped the list of foreign policy concerns, with 26 per cent of respondents worried about Germany's ability to cope with inflows of asylum seekers.

Relations with Mr Trump and the US ranked second, with 19 per cent describing them as a major challenge, followed by Turkey at 17 per cent, North Korea at 10 per cent and Russia at 8 per cent.

Mr Trump has unsettled Germans by pulling out of the Paris climate accord, refusing to certify an international agreement on Iran's nuclear programme and criticising Germany's trade surplus and its contributions to the Nato military alliance.

His actions prompted the usually cautious German Chancellor Angela Merkel to say earlier this year that Berlin may not be able to rely on the US in the future. She also urged Europe to take its fate into its own hands.

VERY BAD

In the poll of 1,005 Germans of voting age, carried out in October, 56 per cent of Germans described the relationship with the US as bad or very bad.

Despite Dr Merkel's pledge, the survey showed deep scepticism in the population about Germany taking a more active role in international crises, with 52 per cent of respondents saying the country should continue its post-war policy of restraint.

That may reflect the fact that neither Dr Merkel nor her main challengers in the recent election campaign talked much about how Germany should respond to the challenges posed by Mr Trump's presidency and Britain's looming departure from the European Union.

Last week, Mr Norbert Roettgen, a member of Dr Merkel's conservative party and head of the foreign affairs committee in the Bundestag, decried a "deplorable" lack of leadership in educating Germans about the need to invest more in their own defence and security. - REUTERS

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