Quote:He stoked further outrage last weekend with reported comments to far-right website Breitbart of his ambition to “empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders”.
Grenell also raised eyebrows with his plan to host a lunch on June 13 for Austria’s arch-conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, described by the US envoy as a “rock star”.
The ambassador “is interfering in our internal affairs”, said Peter Beyer, coordinator for transatlantic cooperation in Angela Merkel’s government, in an interview with regional newspaper the Rheinische Post.
“He should pay attention to the fact that we consider his start as ambassador to be difficult,” added the conservative politician, who will be present on Wednesday for a visit by the diplomat to the foreign ministry.
Former chief of the Social Democratic Party and ex-European Parliament president Martin Schulz told national news agency DPA: “What this man is doing is unheard of in international diplomacy.
“If a German ambassador were to say in Washington that he is there to empower the Democrats, he would have been kicked out immediately.
“I hope that Kurz’s visit will lead Mr Grenell’s tenure as ambassador in Germany to be short,” added Schulz, playing on the German word for short “kurz”.
Schulz had earlier tweeted that the US envoy did not behave like a diplomat but like a “far-right colonial officer”.
Amid the row, Germany’s foreign ministry is seeking clarification from Grenell about his comments, with the topic to be raised at a pre-arranged meeting Wednesday between the envoy and senior official Andreas Michaelis.
“There will certainly be a lot to discuss and that’s why it’s good that the ambassador will be a guest tomorrow of state secretary Michaelis,” said Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
– ‘Awful interview’ –
But the opposition far-left Die Linke party chief Sahra Wagenknecht said Grenell had disqualified himself as ambassador.
“Someone like US ambassador Richard Grenell, who thinks he can lord over Europe and determine who is governing here, can no longer stay in Germany as a diplomat,” Wagenknecht told Die Welt daily.
“If the government takes the democratic sovereignty of our country seriously, then it shouldn’t just invite Grenell to a chat over coffee, but expel him immediately,” she added.
The appointment of Grenell, a hawkish supporter of Trump’s “America First” stance, was long held up by US senators who objected to his allegedly disparaging tweets on female politicians and apparent refusal to take seriously claims of Russian meddling in the US election.
The controversy comes as ties between Germany and the United States are strained after Trump ditched the Iran nuclear deal and imposed punishing tariffs on European aluminium and steel.
Underlining the souring transatlantic relationship, Chancellor Merkel has warned that Europe can no longer rely on the US to protect it and must “take its destiny into its own hands”.
Germany Wants US Envoy to Explain Comments About Support For European Conservatives
Quote:Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also said he had “taken note” of Grenell’s comments, and expects him to explain himself at Wednesday’s meeting. “There will certainly be a lot to discuss,” Maas told reporters on Tuesday.