President Obama, speaking at the G-7 Summit in Germany, urged Western leaders to stand up to “Russian aggression” in Ukraine and said that ties between Washington and Berlin amount to “one of the strongest alliances the world has ever known.”
President Obama drinks a beer as he sits between men dressed in traditional Bavarian clothes during a visit to the village of Kruen, southern Germany, on Sunday, prior to the G-7 summit.
The discussion at the summit at the Bavarian village of Kruen, which also includes leaders from Britain, Canada, France, Italy and Japan, was likely to focus on the conflict in Ukraine and efforts to keep Greece from defaulting on its sovereign debt.
On arriving, Obama said: “[My] message to the German people is simple: We are grateful for your friendship, for your leadership. We stand together as inseparable allies in Europe and around the world.”
He joked that he had forgotten his lederhosen, but was going to see “if I can buy some while I’m here.”
He said that when he first heard the G-7 would be held in Bavaria he hoped it would be during Oktoberfest. “But then again, there’s never a bad day for a beer and a weisswurst,” he said before joining German Chancellor Angela Merkel for beer, pretzels and weisswurst sausage.
As The Associated Press notes: “Obama is closer to Merkel than most heads of state, although their relationship has been tested in the past couple of years, particularly after it emerged that the National Security Agency had tapped Merkel’s cellphone. The revelation was particularly chilling in Germany, with its oppressive history of secret government surveillance, but Merkel seemed eager to move on as she addressed Obama as ‘dear Barack.’ ”
Since its annexation of Crimea last year, Russia has been excluded from what was previously known as the G-8. Defending that move, Merkel has said “Russian participation is currently not conceivable.”
Merkel said: “The G-7 is a group of states that share the values of democracy and rule of law.”
“According to our principles, we are defending international law and the inviolability of borders, because they are the foundation of our peace,” she said.
In an interview published in an Italian newspaper over the weekend, Putin appeared to be trying to calm fears over its backing of Ukrainian separatists, insisting that “there’s no need to be afraid of Russia” and that only a crazy person could “imagine that Russia would suddenly attack NATO.”