Still Loved, Though a Little Less
European approval of US President Barack Obama is overwhelmingly high and has slipped only slightly since his election almost four years ago, according to the latest study by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. The study was presented at the Bertelsmann conference center in Berlin on June 13 at an event organized by the Bertelsmann Foundation.
After an introduction by Aart de Geus, Bruce Stokes of the Washington, DC-based Pew Research Center presented the study’s main findings. The highlights included widespread support for President Obama and the United States in Europe, though less support than four years ago when Obama was elected, and continued antipathy toward both in Muslim countries. There is near universal opposition to US drone strikes; only Americans are in a majority for supporting such attacks. In addition, for the first time, more people worldwide consider China the leading global economic power as opposed to the United States. All populations surveyed placed the EU behind China and the US in terms of economic power.
Within Europe, the study shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel is highly respected in all surveyed countries except Greece, with an impressive 77-percent approval rating in Germany itself. Further afield, she is also popular in Japan and India, though she polls poorly in most Muslim countries, China and Brazil.
Finally, Mr. Stokes reviewed the results from a previous Pew report that showed all Europeans – barring the Greeks – believe that the Germans are Europe’s hardest-working people. (The Greeks say they are.) However, all Europeans agree that Germany is Europe’s least-corrupt nation.
Following the presentation of the results, Bertelsmann Foundation Transatlantic Relations Director Tyson Barker moderated a discussion on the studies‘ findings. Joining him for that was former German Finance Minister Hans Eichel and US Deputy Chief of Mission in Berlin Greg Delawie.
Mr. Eichel focused his comments primarily on Greece, expressing concern that the results appeared to reflect a feeling of isolation among the Greeks. He said this needed to be countered by engaging with the Greek people far more intensively. He called on EU leaders to travel to Athens to make the case for Europe. Mr. Eichel also noted the contradiction in the EU’s placement as the world’s third economic power given that it is actually the largest economy.
Mr. Delawie noted the overwhelmingly positive numbers regarding European sentiment towards the United States and President Obama. He said this was confirmation of shared trans-Atlantic values and mutual trust. He discounted European antipathy towards US drone strikes in southern Asia, citing his belief that new military technology is usually unpopular.
The audience comprised representatives of the German foreign ministry, the German and foreign media, and members of the diplomatic and business communities.
To see the Pew Research Center report in full, go to: http://www.pewresearch.org/.
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