“Obviously, over the past years, we had a number of fits and starts in the bilateral relationship,” said a senior German government official, who requested anonymity in order to speak candidly about Merkel’s agenda.
“The entire focus was on issues where we disagreed,” the official said, adding that sometimes “allies were seen as foes.”
Throughout his administration, former President Donald Trump frequently dressed down allies and often singled out Merkel’s Germany for being “delinquent in their payments” to NATO.
Last year, Trump approved a plan that would remove 9,500 U.S. troops stationed in Germany to other countries, another blow to the transatlantic relationship.
“The U.S.-German relationship was heavily negatively impacted during the Trump administration. So, there was no question that the relationship had to be renewed rebuilt, etcetera,” explained Jenik Radon, adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of Public and International Affairs.
Radon, a legal scholar who has worked in more than 70 countries on energy issues, spoke to the complex nature of global energy deals.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline aims to double the volume of natural gas exported directly to Germany via a network beneath the Baltic Sea, bypassing an existing route through Ukraine.
“Once you try to deliver gas or oil through a pipeline through transit countries, you always put yourself in a predicament because you have a third party that is also involved,” Randon said.
“It’s not just the seller, it’s not just the buyer, there’s also the transit one, but you have no absolute control over that third country,” he said, adding that “doing transit deals are among the most difficult.”