While President Donald Trump had a busy day getting all the 28 NATO partners on board the global anti-ISIS alliance, former President Barak Obama appeared at a youth rally in Berlin alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The event in Berlin was organised to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Taking a swipe at his successor’s immigration policy, Obama got cheers from audiences in Berlin with meaningless platitudes like “we can’t hide behind a wall.” Yes, Obama decried walls as he sat fenced behind a security cover with “helicopters patrol[ling] the skies and snipers with balaclavas watch[ing] the scene from nearby rooftops” — as one news-outlet described it.

“Obama distances himself from Trump,” German newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung wrote. Obama “returns with a new mission,” commented ARD, German public broadcaster. Berliner Zeitung reported:

Around 70,000 people showed up for a public discussion between former US President Barak Obama and Chancellor Merkel. Obama received a cheerful reception on arrival. (…)

[Obama] indirectly distanced himself from Donald Trump with an urgent plea for civil rights and solving conflicts through diplomacy. He, however, did not mention his successor by name during his highly anticipated appearance at the Lutheran Convention in Berlin. [Author’s translation]

Obama praised Merkel’s “outstanding work” as they both took part in the discussion near Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. “Chancellor Merkel has done outstanding work, not just here in Germany, but around the world,” Obama said.

The Obama-Merkel love-fest went on for an hour. “Not only do I love this city, but one of my favourite partners throughout my presidency is sitting next to me,” Obama declared, making Merkel almost blush.

According to the organisers, more than 100,000 worshippers attended three open-air services to mark this year’s Protestant gathering in Berlin. The convention was not without its share of controversy. At one of the events, Berlin’s Bishop Markus Dröge attacked the right-wing AfD party. AfD spokesperson responded by accusing Germany’s Protestant church, which also receives government-funding, of acting like “an arm of the leftist parties,” German newspaper Bild reported.

Meanwhile in Brussels, President Trump met with the leaders of the EU member state for the first time. He appears to have succeeded in forging a multinational anti-ISIS alliance, a promise he made during the presidential campaign. German media reports indicate that most of the NATO member states have agreed to meet their membership obligations, pledging to contribute 2 percent of the national GDP — something President Trump has been urging NATO partners to do. European member states may still not be willing to pay their outstanding dues.

France and Germany, however, might corner U.S. President on the issue of climate change. “European leaders have promised to pressure” President Trump “on the need to maintain a united front in the fight against global warming,” France24 noted. On Tuesday, Chancellor Merkel and China’s climate tzar, Xie Zhenhua, urged the U.S. “to stay the course” following an international climate talk in Berlin.

Video: ‘We can’t hide behind a wall’ Obama tells Berlin

[Cover image courtesy Guardian, YouTube]


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