BERLIN: US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel may have made a tough start, but his imminent departure sparked a wave of nostalgia and trepidation in Berlin.
While Donald Trump threatens to overthrow the pillars of the post-war order, few cities historically symbolize the strength of the transatlantic link more than the united German capital, where Obama held the largest gathering of his 2008 campaign.
Although Merkel barred him from speaking at the Brandenburg Gate, considering the benchmark of German unity too presumptuous a context for the young senator, Obama drew 200,000 encouraging fans to the neighboring column of victory column for a speech about tearing apart Dividing walls.
Now, as the Berliners are preparing to say goodbye to him, many say Obama has left relations much better than he found them, which makes Trump’s presidency looming on Friday a widespread source of anxiety.
“Merkel and Obama are both leaders of the 21st century, not only because she was the first woman to be Chancellor and was the first black president, but because of their modern, intelligent and far-sighted approach, Said Antje Pohle, – former public relations executive.
“Obama was not perfect, but he will be missed in Berlin, especially when you look at the madness Trump.”
Clemens Doepgen, 50, who works for Ford, Ford’s German unit, predicted “very tough” negotiations on trade, rejecting Trump’s protectionist rhetoric as “brutal and simplistic.”
“America under Obama was a reliable partner – Trump’s mistaken approach could be very bad for business.”
In his speech of 2008, Obama used the rebirth of the once-divided city as a symbol of progress, placing himself in the ranks of former US presidents who saw Berlin as a melting pot of epic struggles.
Just a few months before his assassination in 1963, John F. Kennedy delivered the moving declaration “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berliner) to 450,000 people when West Berlin was in the front line of the Cold War.
Obama’s speech was also a clear echo of Ronald Reagan’s appeal to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Berlin in 1987 to “demolish this wall”. Two years later, the Cold War barrier would be overthrown in a bloodless revolution.
Obama and Merkel, who took power in 2005, have developed a strong partnership despite the disagreements over the revelations of the NSA spying Merkel’s mobile phone and Obama’s vocal opposition to Germany’s austere response to The European debt crisis.
During Obama’s term, the US and Germany, together with the EU, have accumulated a series of political agreements that Trump has now called into question, including the Iranian nuclear agreement, the Paris Climate Accord And economic sanctions against Russia.
But more fundamentally, Obama’s time in office has seen a tectonic shift in transatlantic relations.
“For so long in the postwar period Germany was a kind of protectorate – at least West Germany – and even after the Wall fell, it was still a bit of a teenager. But I think That Obama saw Germany of age, “Said to the AFP Sudha David-Wilp, former transatlantic head of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
“At the end of her two terms, we have seen that she has come to rely on Chancellor Merkel for her advice and discussions and how Germany has become an indispensable partner.” Germany has come to assume more than Responsibilities in the world and sees herself as a power for good. “
Hearing that applauds
During a farewell visit to Berlin in November, Obama praised Merkel as an “exceptional” ally, as both leaders stressed the need for a strong NATO, free trade and action on climate change .