Amidst the backdrop of the controversial James Comey hearing, President Trump partakes in a very important diplomatic meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis – a meeting that holds great leverage for global affairs and relations, but was unfortunately passively analyzed by the press. On the sunny Friday afternoon, at 2:31 pm EST, we found ourselves at the press conference of President Donald Trump at the Rose Garden. The first one after the now-famous proclamation about his decision to pull out America from the Paris Climate Accord. Unlike then, under the blazing heat, this time they’ve served lemonade to the press, domestic and foreign.
The entrance to the White House was packed with the Romanian delegation, journalists and diplomats, who were all gathering to witness an extremely important day for their country: the state visit of the Romanian President Klaus Iohannis to the White House.
On the same morning, at the Oval Office, POTUS greeted the Romanian president stating: “It’s a great honor to have you. You’ve been a true ally, a wonderful country, and a great relationship and that relationship as you know as of moments ago are getting even better. So thank you very much for being here. It’s my honor.”
The press conference at the Rose Garden did not start yet, but it was already evident that POTUS was talking to the NATO and EU member in the language of political partnerships and strong alliances. If only the state visit of Romanian president was not happening against the backdrop of the James Comey’s hearing, it would have not been that passively analyzed by the press.
Addressing the press and delegations of both countries, POTUS sent out a very strong message regarding the fight against terrorism. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis used the momentum of having all eyes of the world on him to send out an opposing message to the one Merkel delivered—following the first foreign trip of POTUS—about the fractured US-EU relations.
“Romania is very conscious of the fact that we stand on the Eastern Flank and we heavily rely on your partnership, President Trump because we cannot stand there without the U.S. We cannot stand there alone. On the other hand, our partnership has a huge opportunity to step up not only in security matters but also in commercial and economic matters. And this is very important. Romania is a member of the European Union. And I think it’s the best interest of you, Mr. President, to have the strong European Union as a partner. This is vital for all of us. Our relationship, the transatlantic link is vital. The transatlantic link is not about diplomacy, about policy — it’s the basis of our Western civilization. And together, we will make it stronger. Together, we will make it better.” While the Romanian statement as both an EU and NATO member sent out a different message to the one Merkel had for the European countries (that they can’t rely on the US anymore), it, unfortunately, did not become a news headline.
What is really puzzling is why the mainstream media has been critical of Trump for asking all NATO members to pay their 2% share of the burden to the biggest military alliance in the world? One would assume that all the Americans would be in favor of equal military spending to which all the NATO members should commit to.
Romania is, in fact, one of the rare NATO members who pay 2% of their GDP on military spending, something President Trump called out the other leaders for not paying their share. While this visit should have been followed in much greater detail by the American press, it has been overshadowed by the James Comey hearing and the fact that the very appearance of POTUS in Rose Garden was a unique opportunity to get answers about Comey’s hearing directly from him. “Well, I’ll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future. But in the meantime, no collusion, no obstruction. He’s a leaker, ” POTUS delivered bluntly in front of domestic and international biggest media in the world that was rolling live. President Trump is extremely media savvy and knows how to use the momentum to turn his words into breaking news. His presidency has also been showing so far that he is not ready to break any of his campaign promises. At any costs.
We also have learned that no matter who is visiting, POTUS will always steal the limelight. President Trump had to remind the American journalists who got the chance to ask him a question to also pose a question for President Klaus Iohannis.
The message of the Romanian president Klaus Iohannis was extremely important and relevant for the U.S. relationship with Europe, especially in the context of NATO and the fight against terrorism, and it would be good if the social and media feeds would have been trending on the questions of our shared fate. America is not an island, and the Comey news is not the only relevant news. A solely centrist-American approach to what gets on top of the media agenda is, in fact, a very narrow view of the role America has to play in the world.