Former US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spoke in defence of Chancellor Angela Merkel after Donald Trump volleyed criticism earlier in the week against Germany over trade relations and his belief that Germany needs to pay more for the Nato military alliance.
“We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military. Very bad for U.S. This will change,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Sanders spoke to news agency DPA on Wednesday about the comments.
“To insult a long-time ally like Germany is something that many of us feel uncomfortable with,” Sanders said.
“My opinion is that it is unacceptable for the president to publicly attack the Chancellor.”
Sanders said that many Americans do not share Trump’s views.
“The United States, Germany and of course Europe have long-standing and vital relationships, and these must be maintained,” said the Vermont senator.
“If there are differences, they should be solved in silence.”
Sanders was in Berlin to launch the German edition of his book Our Revolution, and spoke to more than 1,000 students at Berlin’s Free University as well on Wednesday.
During the talk, he said that Merkel was “not the most progressive person”, but added that in comparison to other world leaders, “she looks pretty good”.
He further warned that Trump could withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, which aims to curb emissions of greenhouse gases, which the senator said would be a “horrific mistake”. Trump has said he will announce his decision on the matter on Thursday.
“Climate change is now already causing massive problems in the whole world,” Sanders said.
In the DPA interview, Sanders further accused Trump of wanting to lead the US down an authoritarian path.
“It is pretty remarkable that he feels better around authoritarian personalities like Putin or the leaders of Saudi Arabia than he does in talks with heads of state and governments of democratic countries.”
Sanders also rejected a statement by German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel that the United States is losing its leadership role in the West.
“I don’t think that the United States will become weaker,” Sanders said, adding that the world needed international collaboration, including for climate protection and the fight against terrorism.
“There are many things to do together.”