Obama and Merkel Agree to 'More Severe' Sanctions on Putin
On Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with President Obama to discuss the ongoing situation in Ukraine, Russia’s aggression, and US-EU trade relations. The two heads of state united behind the idea of imposing additional sanctions on the Kremlin.
"We will not have a choice but to move forward with additional more severe sanctions," said President Obama. Chancellor Merkel agreed. “Further sanctions will be unavoidable,” she said.
The threat of instability in Eastern Europe has seemingly trumped Merkel’s prior concerns over the U.S. espionage policy in other countries. Dialing back her previous rhetoric over the NSA spying scandal, "We have a few difficulties still to overcome, " Merkel said.
The German Chancellor was hopeful the new US-EU trade agreement will help Europe with its energy resource issues. “This is a very important issue. It will be very important for us to bring the negotiations very quickly to a close," said Chancellor Merkel.
Merkel’s Germany is often perceived as being an impartial intermediary between the United States and Russia. When Russia annexed the Crimea, Merkel categorized the incursion as “a one-off case.”
Friday afternoon, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted Chancellor Merkel for “an address on the strength of the bilateral relationship between the United States and Germany and in particular on the importance of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.”
In her speech to the Chamber, Merkel again addressed the NSA surveillance policy, reiterating that it was by no means a dead issue. "I do think that we will not have fully overcome this even after my visit,” she said.
Highlighting the benefits of transatlantic trade, Merkel said, “We should not be secretive while negotiating, but we should engage the public throughout and remind them of benefits of trade.” Merkel continued, “Prosperity has to pay for security, which is why we need the Transatlantic Trade Agreement.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce maintains the motto “Fighting for Your Business.” However, the lobbying group has recently come under fire from conservative and Tea Party groups, who have often pointed out their failure to promote free markets. Some say they have focused, instead, on protecting corporate interests. In January, radio talk show host Mark Levin said the Chamber of Commerce consisted of “international corporatists and crony capitalists” with the mission to “defeat constitutional conservatives and impose amnesty.”