BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Chancellor Angela Merkel recalled her own youth in Soviet-dominated East Germany and said Germany was independent in its policy choices in a pointed response to U.S. President Donald Trump saying Berlin was a “totally controlled by Russia”.
Three hours after Trump’s startling tirade over German imports of Russian gas and its slowness to increase defense spending, Merkel told reporters on arrival at a NATO summit in Brussels on Wednesday: “I have experienced myself how a part of Germany was controlled by the Soviet Union.
“I am very happy that today we are united in freedom, the Federal Republic of Germany. Because of that we can say that we can make our independent policies and make independent decisions. That is very good, especially for people in eastern Germany.”
She also defended Germany’s contribution to an alliance which Trump says has placed too much burden on the U.S. taxpayer: “Germany does a lot for NATO,” she said.
“Germany is the second largest provider of troops, the largest part of our military capacity is offered to NATO and until today we have a strong engagement toward Afghanistan. In that we also defend the interests of the United States.”
Reporting by Alastair Macdonald and Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by John Stonestreet