Every challenge can be used as an opportunity. Donald Trump’s victory in American Presidential elections 2016 shocked the whole world, but the impact was most largely felt across democratic Europe. With Hillary Clinton’s large support from European leaders, a widespread confusion swept across these governing bodies as Donald Trump was elected new leader of the world. With Trump’s ideas of putting America first and stopping to be the policeman of the world, international relations could be changed a lot, especially for European states. The European Union formed with American strong financial and ideological support appeared in an awkward position. NATO, officially an alliance of countries, but in reality American security guarantee to all the members, could lose its credibility. Ukraine, the country on the border of the EU, stopping Russian aggression against Europe, could be left alone with its huge Eastern neighbor. It is not a surprise, that European leaders are horrified. However, I am stating that Trump’s coming to power is a great chance for Europe to grow up at once.
The European security
What is Trump’s real attitude to NATO and European security? The new American president has never said that he wants to finish NATO cooperation. What he underlines, is that this collaboration should be on fair conditions. NATO is an alliance of 28 countries, with the USA share in its military budget of around 70%. There is a requirement for all the members to spend 2% of their GDP into defense, however only 4 countries meet the condition. Therefore, Trump’s words are definitely based on reality.
What European countries should do, is to increase its military spending and to take a bigger role in NATO, to be able to offer the USA something in return, to make the country interested in NATO not only as an altruist, but as an equal partner.
The European Union was largely supported by the USA not only in security issues. After the Second World War, it is the USA, who developed European countries with its Marshal plan and pushed them for cooperation against communist Soviet Union. Even modern successful Union is still dependent on America in many issues.
What the EU should do, is to become independent in a number of fields. It should diversity its foreign trade, develop its economy, invest in new technologies. The Union should remember, Brexit, migration crisis, rise of nationalistic movements, – are all its own problems and the USA is not going to solve them. From the other side, the EU should push the question of European army from sphere of discussion into the planning and action one. Many countries see the idea as a loss of their national attribute, to which they cannot agree, especially giving the present problems and uncertainty with the whole European project. However, lack of military weight of the EU and its complete dependence on NATO in security issues is one of the main problems, which makes Europeans dissatisfied. So, maybe the right explanation to citizens and good structure could make European Army alive in the nearest future? The EU can start with the European brigades, common trainings without American guidance, new cooperation in military production between European member-states. From the other side, the rise of the EU’s defense potential and its organization will bring European countries a better place in NATO, which in turn will bring back American interest in the alliance. Therefore, in such a way the EU would become more sustainable itself and will gain a better position for cooperation with the rest of the world.
The Ukraine crisis
There are a lot of discussions about Donald Trump’s prospective relations with Russia. Many say, the new American President is going to become friends with President Putin and accept all his violations of the international laws in the nearest past. Such fear is horrific especially in Ukraine, which is fighting the war with Russia and having part of its territory occupied. However, what was the real words of President Trump about Russia? He stated, that it would be better to be friends with this nuclear state and that the Ukraine crisis is more a European than American responsibility. Is he taking the responsibility from the USA once again? I would say, it was irresponsible from the European side to think that a country behind the ocean can solve the problems of the European backyard. Implicitly, Russia is breaking international laws, which is a threat for the whole world, but it is not only the USA who should take care of it. The EU is a global actor, at least it should be so, and it has to say its word in international politics as well, especially in situation when the threat comes from its neighbor. With no doubt, the European Union was highly involved in solving the crisis in Ukraine, however, such actions could be bigger and more effective. It was the USA, who first imposed sanctions on Russia, it is American financial support, which saved the Ukrainian economy from default. What the EU could do, is to start supporting Ukraine much more in various means. The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement was signed some time ago, the Union should prompt trade, investment and cooperation with Ukraine. Minsk agreements could be named as European success in stopping the war in Eastern Ukraine, which was reached without American strong hand. However, they do not work properly, it could be said that in large majority, they were not implemented at all. It is the European diplomacy that should find the way to deal with Russia in political and economic areas and decide the questions of Crimean occupation and the war in Eastern Ukraine.
What about Ukraine itself? The country should stop being an object of international relations and become its equal subject. The previously mentioned European support should follow, but it is Ukraine that need to start solving its problems by itself. Trump’s attitude is a great chance for Ukrainians to develop their country. Possible lack of interference in Ukraine’s inner problems, will give a strong chance for Ukrainian politicians either to finally start reforming the country or to be changed by better new leaders. Ukraine should start developing its economic strength and analyze how the conflict with Russia could be solved. The country should learn how to dwell without foreign financial and political assistance. The lesson is not only for Ukrainian politicians, but also for ordinary citizens. For example, Ukrainians should stop looking for the remedy to fight the country’s biggest problem, corruption, oversees, but take the responsibility in their own hands. Only self-sustainable country could be interesting for foreign business partners and political integration organizations. Before thinking of integration into the EU and NATO, Ukraine should undertake many home tasks. Foreign support will come, nevertheless Ukraine has to take a more proactive role itself.
We have entered a new era in American foreign policy. It should not become a disaster, if we change our own attitude. Donald Trump should not be call egoistic, if he decides to take care of his own country. It is the rest of the world, who should finally grow up and move from the parents’ care. From my point of view, Trump’s attitude is a great opportunity for the European Union to become self-sufficient in security, economic and many other directions. It is an amazing opportunity for Ukraine to grow up and take the responsibility for its destiny in its own hands. From this perspective, Trump’s presidency could make a big push for the world’s development, and is not to become a tragedy as many see it.