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At This Hour
Obama, Angela Merkel Hold News Conference in Germany. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired November 17, 2016 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:33:50] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Berlin right now, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Obama for a joint news conference. Let's listen in.
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translation): I'm delighted to be able to welcome today for the sixth time, the president of the United States of America Barack Obama, to Germany, in his capacity as president of the United States. And let us remind ourselves after visiting us in his capacity as candidate here in Berlin, we then met again in Baden Baden. We saw each other when he gave a speech at the Brandenburg Gate. We met again at the G-7. And today, he is again here in Berlin. So, eight years are coming to a close. This is the last visit of Barack Obama to our country, to Germany. I am very glad that he chose Germany as one of the stop-overs on this trip.
Thank you very much. Thank you for the friendship you have always demonstrated. Thank you for the reliable friendship and partnership you in very demonstrated in very difficult hours of our relationship. So, let me again pay tribute to what we able to achieve, to what we discuss, to what we were able to bring about in difficult hours.
[11:35:14] Come to mind, as I said, those that had a bearing on the cooperation of our intelligence services. And I'm very grateful that Barack Obama, as president, very much put protection of privy on the agenda today, due to Islamist terrorism all over the world. We recognize how important the cooperation with intelligence services, first and foremost, also with the services of the United States is. We need this cooperation, let me say this from a German perspective, very clearly and unequivocally. Our bilateral relations are very good, are very close in the areas of business, of the economy. The United States of America last year were our most important trading partner. Both for Germany and the European Union, the European Union and the United States of America are the big important economic areas for us, which is why I always have come up strongly in favor of concluding a trade agreement with the United States of America. We have made progress, quite a lot of progress that cannot be stopped, those negotiations, but we will keep what we have achieved so far. And I'm absolutely certain that one day we will come back to what we have achieved and build on it.
Because that is my deep conviction. Globalization -- and I think we share this conviction -- is that globalization needs to be shaped politically. It needs to be given a human face. But we cannot allow to fall back pre-globalization. So, this conclusion of trade agreements that go beyond the scope of mere tariff agreements, customs agreements, are most important. And I'm very pleased we were able to bring this to fruition between Canada and the E.U. We've made great progress particularly if we look at one of the great global issues, namely climate protection. Without the engagement of the current administration and the leadership of Barack Obama, this Paris agreement would never have come about.
There has been a change in the attitude in the United States towards that agreement but there is also a better cooperation with China. So, last year, we were able to conclude a Paris climate agreement which will lead the way for the rest of the world, which is groundbreaking. Together with the sustainable development goals of the Agenda 2030 for the whole world. This is indeed sea change, I think, that we see here. And step by step, it will be implemented.
There's another point I wanted to mention here, particularly the engagement and commitment to Africa. For us Europeans, Africa as a neighboring continent is of prime importance. The development of African countries is in our very own best interest. We, as Germans, but also we as members of the European Union, will have to deal with this. It will be at the very top of our agenda.
There are a lot of areas where we cooperate, the fight against ISIL, for example. Here, Germany was able to contribute to a certain extent in certain areas, will continue to do so, for example, in supporting the Peshmerga, in air policing. But we also have to acknowledge that the United States of America bear most of the burden. They bear the brunt of this responsibility. So, I take your remarks very seriously, Barack, that the European Union as a whole but also Germany needs to recognize that this is our alliance, our common alliance, our Trans- Atlantic alliance, that we have to step up our engagement because, in the long run, we will not be allowed to accept this imbalance as regards the contributions we gave to this alliance. And we have understood this message and we have started to react. We have worked very closely together, for example, in Afghanistan. We are continuing to do so.
And I'm very pleased this military engagement together with a political road map that we developed, we were able to continue. We want to bring about a political solution there.
We worked very closely together on the issue of annexation of Crimea and Russia's attempt to actually conquer Ukraine and, actually, they did so, conquer part of the territory. We tried to come to a peaceful settlement here on this. So, our interests are very much aligned. Our intents of cooperation are very much alive. We continue to build on what we have already achieved in these last months of the administration. And we will continue also with the new administration. This is the end of an eight-year cooperation that was very close, indeed.
From a German point of view, German American and European American relations are a pillar of our foreign policy. Foreign policy that is obviously guided by interests but that is very much also committed to shared values so we have a platform, democracy, freedom, respect of human rights, that we would like to see respected all over the world and also a peaceful world order. We have shared those values. We continue to share those values. Obviously, we will continue to cooperate with the new administration.
But today I think a word of gratitude is at hand. Thank you very much for this very close, very intensive cooperation.
[11:40:30] BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's wonderful to be back in Berlin. This is my sixth visit to Germany. It will not be my last. I have somehow continued to miss Octoberfest --
-- so that's probably something that is better for me to do as a former president, rather than as president. I will have more fun.
It's also wonderful to be back with my great friend and ally, Chancellor Merkel.
As I reflect back over the last eight years, I could not ask for a steadier, more reliable partner on the world stage, often through some very challenging times.
So, I want to thank you for your friendship and for your leadership and your commitment to our alliance.
And I want to thank the German people for the incredible partnership that our countries have been able to establish all these years.
Last week marked the 27th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. The United States was proud to stand with the people of Germany as this nation and this continent reunited and rebuilt and reached for a better future. And it's a reminder that the commitment of the United States to Europe is enduring and is rooted in the values we share, values that Angela just mentioned. Our commitment to democracy, our commitment to the rule of law, our commitment to the dignity of all people in our own countries and around the world.
Our alliance with our NATO partners has been a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy for nearly 70 years, in good times and in bad, and through presidents of both parties, because the United States has a fundamental interest in Europe's stability and security.
A commitment that Angela and I share to this guiding principle has formed the basis for our conversations this afternoon. We discussed our efforts to keep our countries competitive and create jobs and opportunity on both sides of the Atlantic. The negotiations on agreements like TTP have been challenging and obviously at a moment when there's concerns about globalization and the benefits that accrue to particular people. It is important that those negotiations and channels of communication remain because, ultimately, what we have shown over the last several decades is that markets and trade and commerce can create prosperity in all of our countries, that it's not a win/lose situation but it can be a win/win situation. And at a time when the European project is facing challenges, it's
especially important to show the benefits of economic integration by continuing to invest in our people and working to reduce inequality both within and across our countries.
I reiterated our hope that negotiations over the united kingdom's exit from the E.U. will be conducted in a smooth and orderly and transparent fashion and preserve as closely as possible the economic and political and security relationships between the U.K. and E.U.
And I continue to believe what I said in Hanover, that the E.U. remains one of the world's great political and economic achievements, and that those achievements should not be taken for granted, that they need to be nurtured and cultivated and protected and fought for. Because the achievements that we have seen on this continent, in contrast to a divided Europe of the previous century, are ones that remind us of how important it is that we work together, and that we are willing to uphold the principles that have resulted in unprecedented prosperity and security throughout Europe and around the world.
With the threat of climate change only becoming more urgent, Angela and I focused on the need for American and E.U. leadership to advance global cooperation. Both of our nations were proud to join the Paris climate agreement, which the world should work to implement quickly. Continued global leadership on climate in addition to increasing private investment in clean energy is going to be critical to meeting this growing threat.
[11:45:16] Of course, we discussed our commitment to meeting shared security challenges, from countering cyberthreats to ensuring that Iran continues to live up to the terms of the Iran nuclear deal.
I commended Angela for her leadership along with President Hollande in working to resolve the conflict in Ukraine.
We continued to stand with the people of Ukraine and for the basic principle that nations have a right to determine their own destiny. And we discussed the maintaining sanctions until Russia fully complies with the Minsk Agreement.
As part of the coalition against ISIL, we are putting that terrorist network under tremendous pressure. Here in Berlin, this week, coalition members are meeting to ensure we remain unified and focused on our mission to destroy ISIL. We are very grateful for the vital contributions Germany has made to this fight, training local forces in Iraq, sharing intelligence, providing reconnaissance aircraft, including the recent deployment of additional NATO AWACs.
And as Iraqi forces continue the liberation of Mosul, I'm pleased that NATO will be meeting the commitment we made in Warsaw to n training additional forces in Iraq which started this January.
We also continued to stand united with Germany and our NATO allies in our ongoing efforts to build peace and stability in Afghanistan. On Syria, it's clear that the indiscriminate attacks on civilians by
the Assad regime and Russia will only worsen the humanitarian catastrophe, and that a negotiated end to the conflict is the only way to achieve lasting peace in Syria.
Angela and I also agreed the need for a comprehensive and humane response to the devastating humanitarian crisis in Syria and for the influx of migrants and refugees from around the world.
We need to build on the process achieved at the U.N. refugee summit which yielded new commitments from some 50 nations and organizations. The United States is doing our part by increasing the number of refugees we resettle.
And I want again to commend Angela and, more importantly, the German people, for the extraordinary leadership and compassion that you have shown in the face of what I know is a very difficult challenge. You are not alone in trying to deal with this challenge. This is not an issue that any one country should bear, but is in need of an international response. And I not only intend to make sure that we put in place more robust support from the United States but I'm hoping that that continues beyond me on this final visit.
On this final visit, I am reminded of the visit I made here before I became president. It was eight years ago. I had no gray hair. But I believe today what I said then, if you want a model for what is possible, if you want to see how to build a peaceful and prosperous and dynamic society, then look at Berlin and look at Germany. Look at Chancellor Merkel. Her personal story helps to tell the story of incredible achievement that the German people have embarked on and, I think, is something that you should be very proud of.
It is not inevitable that we progress. It requires hard work. Sometimes it may seem as if progress has stalled. But what the history of post-war Germany shows is that strength and determination and focus and adherence to the values that we care about will result in a better future for our children and our grandchildren.
And on behalf of the American people, I want to thank the German people, I want to thank Chancellor Merkel for your deep your steadfast partnership.
So - (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) -- thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thank you very much.
Mr. President, you and the president-elect have very different views on Russia. After your meeting with him last week, can you assure Chancellor Merkel that a Trump administration would also support strong sanctions against Moscow?
Similarly, what have you told President Putin about Russia's influence on the Russian election? And how would you advise European countries to deal with the same threat? And lastly, if I may, would you like to see your friend, Chancellor
Merkel, run for re-election next year?
[11:50:19] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANAUGE)
OBAMA: Showing off your German, showing off.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And the American president calmed you in the sense that on the policy of his successor on climate change and Russia, he has allayed your fears. And are you concerned that the common European policy towards Russia will collapse? And after the election of Mr. Trump, would you -- as a sign of civility, wouldn't you actually have to declare that you are going to be a candidate again?
OBAMA: Well, I try to make it a rule not to meddle in other people's politics. All I can say is that Chancellor Merkel has been an outstanding partner. And, you know, Chancellor Merkel is perhaps the only leader left among our closest allies that was there when I arrived. So, in some ways, we are now the veterans of many challenges over the last eight years. And although we have not always been in sync on every issue in terms of our core values, in terms of her integrity, her truthfulness, her thoughtfulness, her doing her homework, knowing her facts, her commitment to looking out for the interests of the German people first, but recognizing that part of good leadership on behalf of the nation requires engaging the world a whole, and participating effectively in multilaterally institutions, I think she's been outstanding.
It's up to her whether she wants to stand again, and then ultimately up to the German people to decide what the future holds. If I were here and I were German and I had a vote, I might support her.
But it's -- I don't know what that hurts or helps.
With respect to Russia, my principal approach to Russia has been constant, since I first came into office. Russia is an important country. It is a military superpower. It has influence in the region and it has influence around the world. And in order for us to solve many big problems around the world, it is in our interest to work with Russia and obtain their cooperation.
I think we should all hope for a Russia that is successful, where its people are employed and the economy is growing and they are having good relationships with their neighbors. And participating constructively on big issues like climate change. So, I've sought a constructive relationship with Russia.
But what I have also been is realistic in recognizing there is some significant differences in how Russia views the world and how we view the world, the views that we talked about, democracy and free speech and international norms and rule of law, respecting the ability other countries to determine their own destiny and preserve their sovereignty and territorial integrity. Those things are not something that we can set aside. And so, in -- on issues like Ukraine, on issues like Syria, we've had very significant differences.
[11:55:09] And my hope is the president-elect coming in takes a similarly constructive approach, finding areas where we can cooperate with Russia, where our values and interests align. But that the president-elect also is willing to stand up to Russia where they are deviating from our values and international norms. And I don't expect the president-elect will follow exactly our blue print or our approach. But my hope is he does not simply take a real politic approach and suggest that, you know, if we just cut some deals with Russia, even if it hurts people, or even if it violates international norms, or even if it leaves smaller countries vulnerable, or creates long-term problems in regions like Syria, that we just do whatever's convenient at the time. And that will be something that I think we'll learn more about as the president-elect puts his team together.
I am encouraged by the president-elect's insistence that NATO -- that a commitment to that does not change. And his full commitment to NATO as the foundation for international security, I think, is very important.
And finally, in terms of my conversations with President Putin, these are conversations that took place before the election. As I indicated, there has been very clear proof that they have engaged in cyberattacks. This isn't new. It's not unique to Russia. There are a number of states where we've seen low-level cyberattacks and industrial espionage and, you know, other behavior that we think should be out of bounds. And I delivered a clear and forceful message that, although we recognize Russia's intelligence gathering will sometimes take place, even if we don't like it, there's a difference between that and them either meddling with elections or going after private organizations or commercial entities. And we're monitoring it carefully, and we will respond appropriately if and when we see happening.
I do think that this whole area of cyber is something that, at an international level, we have to work on and develop frameworks and international norms so that we don't see a cyber arms race. A lot of countries have advanced capabilities, and given the vulnerabilities of our infrastructure and our economies to digital platforms, we have to be careful in making sure that this doesn't become a lawless, low- level battlefield. And we've started trying to put together some principles that were adopted in the G-20, the G-7, and at the U.N. levels, but a lot more work remains to be done on that front.
MERKEL (through translation): Allow me, if I may, to say, first of all, that I am very much impressed that, in spite the very tough election campaign, this transition period in the United States of America is calm (ph), because it follows democratic principles and is working smoothly. This is all about the American people. It's about the destiny of the American people. And the outgoing administration is sharing its knowledge, its expertise with the incoming administration. And this, to us, is a sign of encouragement to continue the good cooperation that we have built between the United States of America and the Federal Republic of Germany, and that is in our mutual interest, so we will continue this. I will continue this with -- I approach this with an open mind and I'll do it on the basis of a deep conviction with President-Elect Donald --