Defense minister: US Europe stance not likely to change whoever president ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Jüri Luik in the
Jüri Luik in the "Aktuaalne kaamera" studio on Thursday evening. Source: ERR

No immediate and radical shift in relations between the United States and Europe, including Estonia, are likely regardless of who is ultimately declared winner of the presidential elections in America, defense minister Jüri Luik (Isamaa) says.

Appearing on ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK), Luik said that if Trump were to obtain a second term, the current foreign policy line would likely continue, with redeployment of U.S. NATO troops in Europe being of particular interest.

"Trump would certainly press on with redeployment in Europe. It is quite possible that troops will be withdrawn from various areas. Trump has criticized several international agreements, and analysis is ongoing," he said.

Media reports in the summer said that large-scale redeployment of U.S. troops currently in Germany to elsewhere within NATO's European member states may happen, with Poland seen as a front runner recipient state.

Donald Trump had announced in June that he would roughly halve the contingent of U.S. forces in Germany to around 25,000, citing concerns over the latter's NATO contributions as the main motivation.

Biden would probably face the same foreign policy issues, Luik went on. 

"He will certainly be influenced by Chinese and Russian policy. It is clear both countries are already playing a highly aggressive role on the international stage and the U.S. needs to react to this. A new president often wants to improve relations with Russia, for instance. This was always Trump's stance and I assume that Biden has the same desire to a certain extent, but in reality this has always turned out to be extremely difficult."

Similarly, the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) put on hold during the Trump presidency would probably not be immediately reactivated by a Biden presidency, should the latter become reality.

"I find this quite unlikely. This is because we have to account for the fact that the current U.S. election has demonstrated society is polarized into two camps," Luik said.

"Republicans have won a Senate majority, and the Senate ratifies all treaties, so Biden would have to start negotiating here. As we know, in the U.S., both Republicans and Democrats have lately been critical of various trade agreements. There is no doubt negotiations for a consensus on an agreement covering a vast range of trade categories is highly unlikely," he added.

The outcome of Tuesday's election in the U.S. still hangs in the balance, with Joe Biden edging ever closer to the magic 270 electoral college votes needing to seal a win, and Donald Trump alleging voter fraud and threatening legal action.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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