Germans see Trump as bigger problem than North Korea or Russia

BERLIN, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Germans see U.S. President Donald Trump as a bigger challenge for German foreign policy than authoritarian leaders in North Korea, Russia or Turkey, according to a survey by the Koerber Foundation.

Topping the list of foreign policy concerns were refugees, with 26 percent of respondents worried about Germany's ability to cope with inflows of asylum seekers.

Relations with Trump and the United States ranked second, with 19 percent describing them as a major challenge, followed by Turkey at 17 percent, North Korea at 10 percent and Russia at 8 percent.

Since entering the White House in January, Trump has unsettled Germans by pulling out of the Paris climate accord, refusing to certify an international agreement on Iran's nuclear program and criticizing Germany's trade surplus and its contributions to the NATO military alliance.

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President Donald Trump meeting other world leaders
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President Donald Trump meeting other world leaders
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) is greeted by greets U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump pose for a photograph before attending dinner at Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump looks down at a bust of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill while meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 27, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump (R) at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, left, speaks with U.S. President Donald Trump, during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, March 17, 2017. Merkel, who is running for a fourth term in Germanys election in September, plans to explain her view of the mutual advantages of free trade during her talks with Trump on Friday, according to German officials. Photographers: Pat Benic/Pool via Bloomberg
King Abdullah II of Jordan, left, looks towards U.S. President Donald Trump after shaking hands during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, April 5, 2017. The talks with the Jordanian monarch are expected to focus on other regional issues, including Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump, right, shakes hands with Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Egypt's president, during a meeting inside the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, April 3, 2017. Trump�said Monday his buildup of the U.S. military would help El-Sisi�fight terrorism as the two met at the White House for their first summit of the Trump presidency. Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg
US President Donald Trump meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi in the Oval Office in the White House on March 20, 2017, in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / MOLLY RILEY (Photo credit should read MOLLY RILEY/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) walk together at the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, April 7, 2017. President Donald Trump entered a second day of talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Friday hoping to strike deals on trade and jobs after an overnight show of strength in Syria. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump meets Prime Minister Lokke Rasmussen of Denmark outside the West Wing of the White House March 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump is hosting Prime Minister Rasmussen with an Oval Office meeting. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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Trump's actions prompted the usually cautious German Chancellor Angela Merkel to say earlier this year that Berlin may not be able to rely on the United States in the future. She also urged Europe to take its fate into its own hands.

In the poll of 1,005 Germans of voting age, carried out in October, 56 percent of Germans described the relationship with the United States as bad or very bad.

Despite Merkel's pledge, the survey showed deep skepticism in the population about Germany taking a more active role in international crises, with 52 percent of respondents saying the country should continue its post-war policy of restraint.

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That may reflect the fact that neither Merkel nor her main challengers in the recent election campaign talked much about how Germany should respond to the challenges posed by Trump's disruptive presidency and Britain's looming departure from the European Union.

Last week, Norbert Roettgen, a member of Merkel's conservative party and head of the foreign affairs committee in the Bundestag, decried a "deplorable" lack of leadership in educating Germans about the need to invest more in their own defense and security. (Reporting by Noah Barkin; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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