Biden opened the press conference with Angela Merkel with the new Washington Declaration, a document affirming their joint commitment to “the democratic principles that are the heart of both of our nations.”
Nord Stream 2
Biden addressed the continued disagreements between the US and Germany on Nord Stream 2, an $11 billion offshore pipeline advocated for by Germany and Russia. Biden said that he reiterated to Angela Merkel the US concerns around Russian involvement in the project.
“Chancellor Merkel and I are absolutely united in our conviction that Russia must not be allowed to use energy as a weapon to coerce or threaten its neighbors,” said Biden.
Merkel stressed that the pipeline is an additional project, and not a project to replace any kind of transit through Ukraine. Ukraine currently sees the pipeline, and Russia’s involvement, as a national security threat.
Biden and Angela Merkel announced the launch of a climate and energy partnership to support energy security and the development of sustainable energy. The partnership would also address emerging economies including in Central Europe and Ukraine.
After the Trump administration, the Biden administration moved to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. Angela Merkel stressed her appreciation that the US is once again in the agreement, and talked about the importance of the new energy and climate partnership.
“I think it’s a very important message that we’re sending here, we want to build future oriented technologies,” said Merkel, “We would like to be successful together and Germany is very much looking forward to cooperating in this respect.”
Biden also called Cuba a failed state today in talks on US involvement with the country. Cuba faces protests brought on by an economic crisis, in part caused by COVID-19 and the long-standing US economic embargo.
Biden said he would be prepared to assist Cuba with vaccines and their current crisis, as long as the Cuban government wasn’t involved. He also said the administration is considering whether they have the ability to reinstate internet access for those in Cuba, but didn’t hold back on his views on Cuban government.
“Cuba is unfortunately a failed state and repressing their citizens,” said Biden.
When asked about his views on communism, Biden added: “Communism is a failed system, a universally failed system. I don’t see socialism as a very useful substitute, but that’s another story.”
On further international affairs, Biden said that sending American forces to Haiti is “not on the agenda” at the moment. Haitian government is attempting to restabilize after the President of Haiti was recently assassinated.
Biden noted Merkel’s long-standing relationship with the US, joking that “she knows the Oval Office as well as I do.” Angela Merkel has worked with the US through four presidencies throughout her historic career as the first woman chancellor in German history.
Now, Angela Merkel is the second longest-serving Chancellor since Helmut Kohl. Yet today’s visit to the White House was likely her last, as she has previously announced she will step down after September’s elections.
“On behalf of the United States, thank you Angela, for your career of strong, principled leadership,” said Biden, “thank you for speaking out for what is right and for never failing to defend human dignity.”
Amid his compliments for Angela Merkel, Biden quipped: “I’ll miss seeing you at our summits.”
After four years of strained relations with Washington, the German political establishment welcomed Joe Biden’s presidency calling the trans-Atlantic alliance “irreplaceable” and declaring their willingness to open “a new chapter in the U.S. – German relations.”