Ahead of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s one-day visit to Washington scheduled for Friday, German media have complained about the lack of ceremonial pomp accorded to the visiting leader. German media outlets were incensed by the fact that French President Emmanuel Macron, who is also touring the US this week, was receiving an preferential treatment from the White House. Germany, given its economic strength, considers itself a bigger player in Europe than France.

‘Fanfare for Macron–Cold Shoulder for Merkel,’ was the headline in the Monday edition of the German newspaper DIE WELT, while the German edition of the HUFF POST complained about the “cold reception” awaiting the visiting German leader.

German newspaper BERLINER ZEITUNG summed up what Chancellor Merkel will be missing out on her trip:

A private dinner at Mount Vernon, the colonial country estate of the first US President George Washington with breathtaking view of the Potomac. A state dinner at the White House. A speech before the Congress. a joint  wreath-laying ceremony at the Arlington cemetery. During French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit, US President Donald is rolling out a huge diplomatic red carpet. [Translation by the author]

“Merkel is visiting Washington merely out of political urgency, and has to prepare herself for a cold reception,” lamented the HUFF POST. The news website cited President Trump’s recent move towards economic nationalism and airstrikes against Syrian dictator Assad’s chemical weapons facilities as ‘political urgency’ that prompted Chancellor Merkel to visit the Trump White House.

“Merkel wants to save Multilateralism: the existence of global economic order. Germany, an export nation, is especially worried at the prospect of trade agreements and duty-free [market access] losing their validity” HUFF POST wrote, alluding to the recent measures taken by the US government to raise tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum imports.

“Furthermore, it will be about the international trouble spots–primarily Syria. The US has lost trust globally, but recently France and Great Britain supported military strike against the Assad regime,” the left-wing news outlet added. Germany did not take part in that mission.

According to the German media coverage, both France and Germany are also expected to press the US President to keep the Nuclear Deal with Tehran intact.

Germany daily DIE WELT described the current state of the US-German diplomatic ties:

Angela Merkel arrives in Washington on Friday. It will be a working visit that would last only a day and will be reduced to the bare minimum. Compare to the efforts undertaken by the White House for Macron, Merkel’s visit will be limited to Protestant simplicity.

On one hand this highlights the fact that France is back at the world state as an important European power following six years of François Hollande and now with Macron at the helm. It also shows that French President has managed things much more efficiently in creating a good relationship with the difficult US President, compared to Merkel or the British Prime Minister.

Whereas you had a radio silence between Merkel and Trump that lasted several months during the phase of government formation in Germany, American President talks at least once a week with his French counterpart–more than any other world leader. [Translation by the author]

Similar assessments were made on the other side of the Atlantic as well. “Merkel Has Disastrously Bungled Her Relationship With Trump,” declared FOREIGN POLICY, a leading Washington-based policy journal.

It is unclear if President Trump’s alleged ‘differential treatment’ of the visiting European leaders reflects his personal preferences or is a calculated move to drive a wedge between the two major powers tussling for the leadership of the EU.

Besides personal dimension to the US-France bilateral ties, President Trump might have some tangible reasons to offer diplomatic courtesies to the French leader. While the French President has been relatively mute in his criticism of the US President, German Chancellor has made little effort to conceal of her dislike for him. In her first message to the President-Elect, she lectured him on gender, racial, and religious equality. Merkel’s speech made her the darling of the liberal press, but it did not win her any friends in the incoming administration. It is no secret that the German Chancellor would have preferred the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to win the US presidential election, a fact apparent from the millions of euros donated by the Merkel government to the Clinton Foundation.

Last July, President Macron invited President Trump to be the guest of honor at the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris. Despite several bilateral meetings, including the one on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, the US President has not been invited to a stand-alone state visit.

France also joined the US and Britain in striking Syria’s chemical weapons program. Despite Merkel’s diplomatic backing for the military action, Germany refused to join the NATO allies. Furthermore, the German parliament slammed the strikes as illegal. “Military force used against a state to punish it for infringing an international convention violates the prohibition of force under international law,” said the Bundestag report.

Despite the dismay and surprise displayed by the German media, President Trump’s handling of the two world leaders should not come as a surprise to anyone. The current US President, unlike his predecessor, has been consistent in rewarding the loyal foreign allies and sidelining the adversaries. The message from the Trump White House is clear, if allies want the White House banquets or other goodies, they will have to earn it.

Video: President Trump welcomes French President Macron


[Cover image via YouTube]