Outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama has bid farewell to European allies, capping his final trip to Europe as president with reassurances of America’s enduring support and calls for allies to stand up to Russia.
The U.S. leader left Berlin Friday after a four-day tour of the region that started with Greece, the cradle of western-style democracy, where he reflected on the importance of fighting for democratic values, and ended in Germany, Europe’s top economy whose Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is regarded as Europe’s most influential leader.
The top item on Obama’s agenda was reassuring nervous European allies about the future of Transatlantic relations under the presidency of Donald Trump, whose campaign remarks raised uncertainty, especially about America’s commitment to NATO, the EU, and other multilateral institutions.
U.S. President Barack Obama, left, is welcomed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel prior to a meeting of the government heads of Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Britain in Berlin, Nov. 18, 2016.
Before departing Berlin, President Obama met with leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain and repeated those reassurances. A White House statement says Obama “expressed confidence that, even at a moment of great change, democratic values have done more to advance human freedom and progress than any other system in history, and will continue to do so going forward.”
He thanked his European counterparts for their close cooperation and urged them to work with the Trump administration “on the basis of the core values that define the United States and Europe as open democracies.”
Obama and the other leaders agreed on Friday to maintain sanctions on Russia over the conflict in eastern Ukraine. They called on Moscow to abide by the Minsk agreements and allow for a security environment that is conducive to elections.
They agreed Europe should keep working toward de-escalation and a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Syria, and they called on Russia to stop its bombing of Aleppo, where they said the humanitarian situation is of “grave concern.”
Obama headed to the last stop of his last foreign tour, Peru, to attend the Asia Pacific Cooperation summit (APEC).
US President Barack Obama waves as he boards Air Force One during his departure from Tegel International Airport in Berlin, Nov. 18, 2016.