TEHRAN (Press Shia) – A former Finnish labour minister said the Trump administration does not look at Europeans as “allies any longer”, adding that it is affecting the transatlantic link, “which still in the minds of many is the foundation of European Foreign and Security Policy”.

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“The Trump administration does not deal with the Europeans as allies any longer. Exit from the Iran deal is a concrete example. On the contrary, Europeans are seen as competitors and in some cases as supporting US competitors (as in the case of Russia gas). The president himself does not like the European project, he is closer to those who want to split Europe. This is affecting the transatlantic link, which still in the minds of many is the foundation of European Foreign and Security Policy, while others understand that the link is loosening but want to stick to it for fear of something unknown,” Tarja Cronberg told Press Shia.

Cronberg is a distinguished associate fellow at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and former chair of the European Parliament’s Iran delegation. She is a Finnish Green League politician who served as a member of the European Parliament from 2011 until 2014. Cronberg was a Member of the Finnish Parliament 2003–2007. She chaired her party from 2005 until 2009 and was the Minister of Labour in the Finnish government from 2007 to 2009 as part of Matti Vanhanen’s second cabinet.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Press Shia: In a recent speech at a conference, French President Emanuel Macron proposed a bleak vision of Europe’s future and its possible disappearance. Later, in an interview with The Economics, he explained, “I’m trying to face the facts. Personally, I think Europe is a miracle. This continent has the greatest geographical concentration of cultural and linguistic diversity. Which explains why, for almost two millennia, Europe was rocked by constant civil wars.” Do you believe so?

Cronberg: The French President has been one of the visionaries on the European future. I can understand, given the continuous process of Brexit, he feels temporarily depressed. The European Union is and has been a peace project for the past 70 years. The Slogan: To be united in diversity” is still important.

Press Shia: Elsewhere in the interview, Macron referred to a shift in the US policy in the past years, saying, “Moreover, Europe was basically built to be the Americans’ junior partner. That was what lay behind the Marshall Plan from the beginning. And this went hand in hand with a benevolent United States, acting as the ultimate guarantor of a system and of a balance of values, based on the preservation of world peace and the domination of Western values. There was a price to pay for that, which was NATO and support to the European Union. But their position has shifted over the past 10 years, and it hasn’t only been the Trump administration. You have to understand what is happening deep down in American policy-making. It’s the idea put forward by President Obama: ‘I am a Pacific president’.” Whats are your thoughts on this?

Cronberg: The economic power of the world has moved to the Pacific, not astonishing that American presidents are gradually moving away from Europe. The Europeans have been and still are slow to understand this change, which among other things means that we have to be responsible and also pay for our own defense.

Press Shia: The French president further said the ties between Europe and the US have loosened. He said, “The United States remains our major ally, we need them, we are close and we share the same values. I care a lot about this relationship and have invested a great deal in it with President Trump. But we find ourselves for the first time with an American president who doesn’t share our idea of the European project, and American policy is diverging from this project.” Do you believe so? If yes, what has put a serious strain on ties between the US and its European allies?

Cronberg: Yes. The Trump administration does not deal with the Europeans as allies any longer. Exit from the Iran deal is a concrete example. On the contrary, Europeans are seen as competitors and in some cases as supporting US competitors (as in the case of Russia gas). The president himself does not like the European project, he is closer to those who want to split Europe. This is affecting the transatlantic link, which still in the minds of many is the foundation of European Foreign and Security Policy, while others understand that the link is loosening but want to stick to it for fear of something unknown. There is also a different understanding between western and eastern member states on the role of the US in Europe.

Press Shia: In another part of the interview, Macron discussed ways to build “European sovereignty” and also referred to the “brain death of NATO”. He said, “… things are changing; we need to keep explaining this. There is a deep current of thought that was structured in the period between 1990 and 2000 around the idea of the ‘end of history’, of a limitless expansion of democracy, of the triumph of the West as a universal value system. That was the accepted truth at the time, until the 2000s, when a series of shocks demonstrated that it wasn’t actually so true. So I think the first thing to do is to regain military sovereignty. I pushed European defense issues to the forefront as soon as I took office, at the European level, at the Franco-German level.” Can you please explain on “European sovereignty” and the “brain death of NATO” mentioned by Macron?

Cronberg: Both are a reflection of the loosening ties between the EU and the US. European strategies, for example, the Global strategy of 2016, underline the need for strategic autonomy, especially in relation to the US. The lack of this strategic autonomy can be found in many fields, but the question of defense and therefore NATO, is the most critical one. It is also the clearest demonstration of European submission to US interests today, the historical story after WWII is different.

Press Shia: In an address to the UN’s International Labour Organization back in June, Macron denounced “capitalism gone mad”, while urging enhanced social protections in a global economy plagued by inequality. What do you think about this?  

Cronberg: Global inequality has (been) and is increasing, in order to prevent conflicts this has to be dealt with by social protection, both within and among states.