The European Union is being urged to stand firm in the face of shocking decisions by US President Donald Trump in his first week in office. Mr. Trump banned citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for at least the next 90 days and Syrians indefinitely. The ban includes US citizens with dual nationality as well as permanent residents (green card holders) bringing the potential number of people to at least 134 million people based on 2013 World Bank census data. The seven-country list is to be expanded in line with Mr. Trump’s election pledges of “keeping America safe.“
The EU’s major powers, France and Germany, have immediately expressed their concerns at these decisions and French President Francois Hollande vowed a “firm” response to a growing list of pronouncements by the White House. “We must conduct firm dialogue with the new American administration which has shown it has its own approach to the problems we all face,” he said. Mr. Hollande also addressed Mr. Trump’s earlier comments that he believed that more EU countries would leave the EU and that Brexit was a “wonderful thing“. “When he talks about Brexit being a model for other countries, I think we must respond,” the French President commented.
Luxembourg Foreign Minister, Jean Asselborn, said that the US President’s decision is “bad for Europe, because it’s going to strengthen even further the mistrust and hatred towards the West in the heart of the Muslim world.“ In contrast, British leader Theresa May commented that “the United States is responsible for the United States’ policy on refugees”, adding that “immigration policy in the United States is a matter for the government of the United States, just the same as immigration policy for this country should be set by our government,” the spokesman of the British government said.
Donald Trump held telephone talks on Saturday (28 January) with Germany’s Angela Merkel and Russia’s Vladimir Putin and with France’s Francoise Hollande on Sunday (29 January). He alarmed European leaders with his positive comments on Vladimir Putin and the possibility of the US lifting sanctions on Russia despite Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea. France and Germany said that the EU is firmly against this and reiterated that the relaxation of the punitive measures against Russia had to be linked to the implementation of the 2015 Minsk Agreement.