Presidential hopeful Barack Obama has arrived in Berlin where he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Later he is due to deliver a speech to tens of thousands of people at the Victory Column, after his request to speak in front of the Brandenburg Gate was denied.
“Barack Obama came to Germany to discuss specific issues with Angela Merkel. He will plead for stronger transatlantic relations and ask for greater European engagement in NATO, mainly in Afghanistan,” said FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Berlin, Pierre Girard.
Barack Obama has stirred enthusiasm in Germany, where he is perceived as an “anti-Bush” figure, raising hopes for improved bilateral relations. His statements on an American withdrawal from Iraq have been widely appreciated. According to a recent TNS survey, 76% of the German population would prefer he won the presidential election.
“The Germans think that whatever is good for the US is good for the rest of the world. They believe Barack Obama will bring change,” said Pierre Girard.
According to FRANCE 24’s international affairs editor Jean-Bernard Cadier, “if Europeans could vote in the US presidential election, Obama would claim a landslide victory.”
Yet, if Obama is elected he would still defend American interests, warns Cadier. Furthermore, as a Democrat, he may well adopt a more protectionist approach than his Republican rival John McCain, considering the country’s delicate financial situation. When US protectionism is in full swing, Europe has to make do with the consequences. In such a case, Obama enthusiasts may be somewhat disappointed.
Angela Merkel said on Wednesday she didn’t expect a major shift in US foreign policy after the election. Whoever wins the vote will roughly follow similar trends, the chancellor said in a press conference.
In his current world tour, Obama has visited Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Israel and the West Bank. After Berlin, he is set to visit Paris on Friday and then London, where he will complete his world tour, aimed at building up his stature as a future White House incumbent.