Sputnik: Do you believe that the US is ratcheting up of the rhetoric is linked with the tensions over the Iran nuclear deal? Could President Trump use the NATO military spending issue as leverage so to speak in terms with the Europeans and how much of an ace is this issue anyway?
Paolo Raffone: To this [President of the European Council Donald Tusk] has responded already from the Sofia summit. He has been very blunt saying that "with such allies, we don't need more enemies." Which means, and we will have to say how it translates into effective legislation and decision making, but apparently this means something which is so to say historical. If this happens, this is the first time since the end of the Cold War, so 30 years later, the European Union is finally deciding to have an independent policy at the international level in spite of the Euro-Atlantic framework.
Sputnik: What's all this going to have in terms of the consequences on the relations between the US and Germany?
Paolo Raffone: Germany has in the United States a very significant market, but Germany is, in perspective, looking at faster growing and more promising markets in the Far East and in Russia itself. The real problem is not so much in trading of goods with the US, where Germany can be hit very hard such as the automotive and the steel industry, but the financial sector will be the key issue.
Many of the European member-states have the same problem and this is the tool that usually the United States is using towards European allies, sending in [US] Treasury envoys, that remind these governments that anything that is done against the policies that the United States wants to implement would translates into the freezing of assets. This is sort of declaration of war from the United States to Europe.
So, if Europe really stand up, as they have announced, to stand up united against the United States, this would create some problems for Trump, because he will not have to deal with a single country or a single private bank, but with 28 member-states, defending their assets.
The situation is very bad and for sure… but the threat of war is more a rhetorical kind of speaking that is very typical of President Trump. The issue here is that very serious and deep damage can be produced to European member-states and Germany in particular, if the United States really wants to raise confrontation with the EU.
To certain extent, I would see there is a strategy in the United States, which is the one we see now with North Korea. Basically, there too was a threat war, they were ready to bomb North Korea, but in the end of the story they have been negotiating and very soon there even be a meeting. Now the issue there is not so much North Korea, but the agreement with China, that is hidden behind the North Korean issue.
For Europe it is a similar story. The real issue here is what agreement with Russia? So, Russia and the United States have been the two major powers liberating Europe in the Second World War and therefore there is now a need to find a new balance of interests in handling this part of the world. Europe is striving to have its own say and its own way. It may happen that this crisis will even facilitate resurgence of the European meaning and strength. But of course we have to take into account that Russia and the United States, they have their own national interests and Europe is somehow a contentious part of them.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.