French President Emmanuel Macron (on the podium, right) is displayed on the big screen as he speaks with the President of the Munich Security Conference Wolfgang Ischinger at the 56th Munich Security Conference (MSC ) in Munich, in the south of Germany, on February 15, 2020. - AFP

American and European leaders, starting with Emmanuel Macron, displayed their differences this Saturday on the state of the West and the trend of national withdrawal under Donald Trump, Washington rejecting "exaggerated" criticism and not "reflecting reality" .

The Munich Security Conference, the annual international high-defense mass, suddenly took on the air of settling scores, with the key to a German-American diplomatic mini-sparkle.

"The transatlantic alliance is dead is greatly exaggerated"

Without taking gloves, the American secretary of state Mike Pompeo replied to remarks made the day before, during this same forum, by the German head of state Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The latter had harshly denounced the national selfishness propagated in his eyes by US President Donald Trump.

These and similar criticisms "do not reflect reality at all," said Mike Pompeo. "I am pleased to report that the idea that the transatlantic alliance is dead is greatly exaggerated," he said ironically.

American counterattack

The German head of state had regretted that "our main ally, the United States, refuses under the current administration the very idea of ​​an international community". "Countries are invited to put their own interests above those of all the others," he said.

The American Minister of Foreign Affairs responded to him by surprise. He argued that his country had contributed to the strengthening of NATO on its eastern flank among Russia's neighbors, or even led the effort to put an end to the self-proclaimed "caliphate" of the jihadist Islamic State organization in Syria.

"Is that what the United States is" rejecting the international community "? He asked. "The West is winning," said Mike Pompeo in response to those who doubt transatlantic cohesion.

"Weakening of the West"

But soon after, French President Emmanuel Macron, who succeeded him at the podium in Munich, took his tune. "There is a weakening of the West" vis-a-vis Asia or Russia, estimated Emmanuel Macron, and "there is an American policy of a form of relative withdrawal, of a reconsideration of its relation with l 'Europe' that must be taken into account. In this context, Europe must "relive itself as a political, strategic power".

Amid these public differences, the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, urged to avoid "competition" between Europe and the United States. We must not "highlight our differences, while minimizing our strengths," he said.

Huawei case also creates discord

Americans and Europeans also disagree regarding China. Washington is pressuring European countries not to give access to the Huawei equipment manufacturer in their future 5G telecommunications networks, seeing it as a risk of espionage.

"This could ultimately threaten the most successful military alliance in history, NATO," Pentagon chief Mark Esper warned in Munich. A free warning to Europeans.

So far most European countries have turned a deaf ear and are willing to allow access, with restrictions, to Huawei. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi invited them to make an "independent and wise choice" while respecting "equity for all businesses".

Washington is banking on energy

Tensions are also high in the energy field, where Washington worries about Europe's dependence on Moscow and denounces the plan for a new Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream II. Supported in particular by Germany, it aims to transport Russian gas to Europe via the Baltic Sea bypassing Ukraine.

Mike Pompeo announced on this subject that the United States will finance energy projects to the tune of one billion dollars in countries of central and eastern Europe to strengthen their energy independence from Moscow.

It is a "sign of support for the sovereignty, prosperity and energy independence of our European friends" which will benefit the Three Seas Initiative bringing together twelve countries of the European Union bordered by the Baltic seas, Adriatic and Black.


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