Millennials have the Facebook term, "unfriend,” when they stop being friends with someone who used to be close to them, or when they remove that person from their social media contacts and cease online interaction with, hence, “unfriend.” It is not clear, however, how German Chancellor Angela Merkel will call her party’s decision to drop the term “friend” in describing Germany’s relationship with the U.S. Is she effectively “unfriending” the U.S.?
Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party the Christian Social Union released their joint election manifesto on Monday. Curiously, while their previous campaign program described the U.S. as Germany’s “most important friend” outside Europe, the new manifesto now merely uses the word “partner” to describe the U.S.-German relationship. Is it just a matter of harmless change in wordings? Or is it deliberate and reflective of the parties, Merkel, and Germany’s current feelings regarding its once “most important friend” outside of Europe?
The party who also previously called the Germany-U.S. friendship a “cornerstone” in Germany’s role in the global stage, has yet to comment now on why it changed the terminology, and if it also reflective of a change in their sentiment regarding the U.S. following a series of comments from Merkel criticizing U.S. President Donald Trump’s leadership.
Merkel also said in May that EU should “take its fate into its own hands” as the U.S. and the U.K.are looking only after their own interests. Merkel said at a campaign rally in Munich on May 28 that: “The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out. I’ve experienced that in the last few days We, Europeans, really have to take our fate into our own hands.”
President Trump for his part has strongly spoken about Germany’s large trade surplus with the U.S. and its low defense spending, and has said in no uncertain terms that such set-up must change.
Trump and Merkel will meet Thursday ahead of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany. Merkel has previously issued the statement that she won’t “overlook tensions” with Trump, claiming that the Paris climate agreement is “irreversible and non-negotiable.”
Interestingly, Merkel used to enjoy- to use another millennial favorite term- “BFF” status with former President Barack Obama, who used to also regard her as his “closest ally” during his two terms in the White House.