Saturday

24th Jun 2017

May urges Trump to stand by Nato, beware Putin

  • May on Nato: "We must always stand up for our friends and allies" (Photo: Reuters)

British leader Theresa May defended Nato and criticised Russia in a speech in the US, while courting Donald Trump for closer ties.

May described Nato as “the cornerstone of the West's defence” and as part of a wider, rules-based world order that the US and the UK had helped to build after World War II.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Trump on UK trade: "They want to talk trade, so I’ll have to handle it myself, which is OK" (Photo: Gary Skidmore)

“We must turn towards those multinational institutions like the UN and Nato that encourage international cooperation and partnership,” she said.

Speaking at a Republican Party symposium in Philadelphia, she noted that Nato was deploying a new Russia-deterrent force in the Baltic region.

“Whether it is the security of Israel in the Middle East or the Baltic states in eastern Europe, we must always stand up for our friends and allies”, she said.

She advised US president Donald Trump to “engage but beware” of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

“We should engage with Russia from a position of strength”, she said.

“We should not jeopardise the freedoms that president Reagan and Mrs. Thatcher brought to eastern Europe by accepting president Putin's claim that it is now in his sphere of influence”, she added, invoking the names of US and British leaders from the Cold War era.

May, the first foreign head to visit the US after Trump’s election, is to hold official talks with him in Washington on Friday.

Trump, who also spoke in Philadelphia, focused on his plan to build a wall on the Mexican border and joked about a post-Brexit US-UK trade treaty.

“I’m meeting with the prime minister tomorrow, as you know, Great Britain. So I'm meeting with her tomorrow. I don't have my commerce secretary. They want to talk trade, so I’ll have to handle it myself, which is OK,” he said.

May’s speech comes after Trump, in earlier remarks, attacked Nato and the EU and said he might endorse Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

He also said he would put “America first” in his trade and foreign policy.

The British leader on Thursday acknowledged some of Trump’s Nato criticism.

She said European countries should increase defence spending to reduce the burden on the US. “Countries cannot outsource their security … to America and they should not undermine the alliances that keep us strong by failing to step up”, she said.

She said “if the countries of the European Union wish to integrate further, my view is that they should be free to do so”.

But she said the UK was preparing for a hard exit from the EU, in order to “take back control” of immigration and to “restore our parliamentary sovereignty”.

Great victory, new age

She said the UK and US should upgrade relations in what she called a “new age” in world affairs.

She said that a UK-US trade treaty would “see us taking that next step in the special relationship that exists between us.”

Trump has also drawn criticism for his anti-Muslim remarks, climate change scepticism, and for his endorsement of torture by US security services.

May told British media on the flight to Philadelphia that her views on the illegitimacy of torture “won't change - whether I am talking to you or talking to the president”.

She said in her speech that the “peaceful religion of Islam” was different from the “hateful ideology” of jihadism, but she declined to confront Trump on values, while praising his “great victory” in the US elections and his vision of a “new era of American renewal”.

Her approach to Trump is different from France and Germany, who have raised the alarm on his threats to Western solidarity.

British experts also fear that May might go along with Trump in future even if he splits from EU policy on Russia or the Middle East.

“If America eases up on Russia, Britain will be under heavy pressure to pick the United States, not to side with [German chancellor] Merkel,” Robin Niblett, the director of Chatham House, a London-based think tank, told the New York Times.

“The UK, which traditionally sees itself as upholding the spine of Europe toward Russia, is pulling itself out of that role,” he said.

Brexit bill

Back in London, Brexit came one step closer to reality on Thursday with the publication of a “European Union Notification of Withdrawal Bill.”

The legal act empowers May to formally notify Brussels of “the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU”.

Explanatory notes attached to the brief text also say Britain will quit Euratom, a separate legal entity from the EU, that governs cooperation between Europe’s nuclear industries, the Financial Times newspaper reported.

The bill is expected to fly through the lower house of parliament, where May has a 16-seat majority, by early February.

It is designed to be enacted by the end of March, but could face delays in the more EU-friendly House of Lords.

Trump pledges US-first foreign policy

Economic protectionism and war on Islamist terrorism will form the heart of US foreign policy, Trump has said. He did not rubbish Nato, but indicated interest in a new Russia alliance.

Europeans in US 'not optimistic'

EU diplomats in Washington say getting access to the Trump administration is difficult and are concerned by Trump's trade and Russia policies.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Brexit Britain cannot rely on Trump's trade vows

Theresa May came away from her meeting with Donald Trump bearing the promise of a future UK-US trade pact. The pledge was rich in symbolism, but not much else.

Interview

EU visa waiver unlikely to import Ukraine crime

Visa-free travel, which began last week, unlikely to prompt a Ukrainian crime wave, an EU police expert has said, but Ukraine itself is seeing increases in lawlessness.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  2. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants
  3. Belgian PM calls May's proposal on EU citizens 'vague'
  4. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote
  5. Spain to command anti-smuggler Mediterranean force
  6. Estonia confirms opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline
  7. Ireland and Denmark outside EU military plan
  8. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  2. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  3. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  4. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  5. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  6. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  7. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  8. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  9. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  11. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  12. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move

Latest News

  1. Macron’s investment screening idea watered down by leaders
  2. Leaders unimpressed by May’s offer to EU citizens
  3. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits
  4. EU extends sanctions on Russia
  5. UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'
  6. Decision on post-Brexit home for EU agencies postponed
  7. May's offer on citizens’ rights dismissed as ‘pathetic’
  8. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Social Services ConferenceDriving Innovation in the Social Sector I 26-28 June
  2. Dialogue PlatformMuslims Have Unique Responsibility to Fight Terror: Opinon From Fethullah Gülen
  3. EUSEW17Check out This Useful Infographic on How to Stay Sustainable and Energy Efficient.
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament Criticises the Juncker Plan's Implementation
  5. The Idealist QuarterlyDoes Europe Really Still Need Feminism? After-Work Chat on 22 June
  6. EUSEW17Create an Energy Day Event Before the End of June. Join the Call for Clean Energy
  7. UNICEF1 in 5 Children in Rich Countries Lives in Relative Income Poverty, 1 in 8 Faces Food Insecurity
  8. International Partnership for Human Rights26 NGOs Call on Interpol Not to Intervene Versus Azerbaijani Human Rights Defenders
  9. Malta EU 2017Significant Boost in Financing for SMEs and Entrepreneurs Under New Agreement
  10. World VisionYoung People Rise up as EU Signs Consensus for Development at EU Development Days
  11. ILGA-EuropeLGBTI Activists and Businesses Fighting Inequality Together
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Prime Ministers Respond to Trump on Paris Agreement