German opposition party leader demands harder line on Trump

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-17 20:28:41|Editor: Zhou Xin
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BERLIN, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- The German Social Democrats (SPD), led by their national election candidate Martin Schulz, have joined in widespread criticism of U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday over his response to far-right violence in the northeastern U.S. town of Charlottesville.

Trump had a habit of systematically breaking taboos and had surrounded himself with advisors who "sowed blank hatred," Schulz said in the newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau.

The SPD leader also attacked what he viewed as German Chancellor Angela Merkel's excessively forgiving attitude towards Trump. He singled out Merkel's now famous quotation that "the times in which we could fully rely on others (with regard to NATO defense) are now over..." in May as being too timid.

"My experience is: Types (like Trump) need to hear clear words. I am convinced that more can be achieved with Trump if one tells him without hesitation: Listen, this is not acceptable," Schulz said.

Trump has received domestic and international criticism for failing to strongly condemn violence and hate speech at a far-right rally in the university town of Charlottesville, Virginia. A woman attending a demonstration against the rally was killed when a man drove his vehicle into a group of protestors.

Merkel was dismayed by the incident which she described as "absolutely repulsive," while German Justice Minister Heiko Maas went as far as to accuse Trump of "encouraging Neo-Nazis."

Pressured to distance himself clearly from far-right elements at a press conference afterwards, the U.S. president instead reverted to blaming "both sides."

On Thursday, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel voiced similar concerns to Schulz over Trump's handling of the crisis.

"(Such an equation) is wrong and it shows how closely intertwined a part of Trump's supporters are with the radical right-wing scene in the United States," the foreign minister added.

Gabriel said that the events in Charlottesville should be a warning to European authorities as well, as Germany was also confronted with the challenge of "real right-wing terrorism."