The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, yesterday asked Joe Biden on a visit to the White House to do everything possible to reopen the borders of the United States, after more than a year of closure to non-essential travel due to the pandemic. “It is something we are considering, and we will make a decision in the next few days,” President Biden said at a news conference. Merkel responded that she is confident in the process and that the US will make a decision suitable for both parties. Just a month ago, the European Union opened its borders to vaccinated Americans, but there has been no recriprocity.
With yesterday’s friendly visit, Biden reached out to Europe again yesterday, after Donald Trump’s troubled years of disputes and tensions. Merkel is the first president of the old continent to visit the new president in the White House, something he did yesterday with all honors, after the trips of the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Israel and Afghanistan. Little by little, the transatlantic link returns to normal, with a remaining point of tension between Washington and Berlin: the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which is being built from Russia to Germany and which reinforces that European country’s relationship with Vladimir Putin. The US is still maneuvering to prevent its completion, which is imminent.
Help against Russia
The US president asked Merkel for help in responding to cyberattacks and blackmail from Russia, which has seriously affected gasoline supplies, meat plants and other businesses. The two leaders also discussed the Kremlin’s expansionist cravings, and support for Ukraine, where the conflict instigated by pro-Russian separatists remains open. A special point of interest for Biden, he said, is the growing Chinese commercial influence, and its landing on 5G technology in Europe, which from the US is viewed with concern as it is perceived as a risk to national security.
The great tension between Merkel and Donald Trump is left behind. According to various leaks, the latter was extremely aggressive towards the German Chancellor, and even He even called her “stupid”. A photo of Merkel has passed to posterity, thrown on a table before Trump, with the latter folded his arms, while the most nurtured of the international community looked at her attentively. It was taken at a G7 summit in Canada in 2018.
Yesterday Merkel arrived at the White House with all the honors. Biden did not receive her at the door of the West Wing, as Trump did in 2017. But already inside the Oval Office the atmosphere was of great cordiality. “Now we have the opportunity to talk more about our bilateral relationship, the relationship between Germany and America, obviously always in the context of European affairs,” Merkel said.
Biden, smiling, extended his hand to the Chancellor: “It is a great pleasure to welcome Chancellor Merkel back to the White House, she has been in the Oval Office many times. She is a great personal friend and a friend from the USA».
The two leaders signed what the White House presented as “the Washington Declaration”, a document that establishes the general principles and values of the bilateral relationship in a context of rise of populisms on both sides of the Atlantic: shared commitment to democratic principles, values, institutions and human rights; the preservation of international treaties; the defense of the market economy, and the importance of transatlantic cooperation.