Laurent Fabius of France and Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany offer praise for Clinton in unusual diplomatic move
The Guardian, Damien Gayle, 13 April 2015
|Hillary Clinton has begun a tour of key states in her campaign to|
become president. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
The foreign ministers of Germany and France appear to have come close to breaking with diplomatic convention by publicly backing Hillary Clinton’s bid for the US presidency.
Laurent Fabius of France and Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany offered unusual praise for Clinton, who on Sunday revealed she was joining the race to replace Barack Obama at the helm of US government.
They were joined by Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president, who tweeted:
Good luck @HillaryClinton ! I know how strong your passion is for the United States. - NS
— Nicolas Sarkozy (@NicolasSarkozy) 12 april 2015
Fabius described Clinton as “an exceptional woman for a job that requires exceptional qualities”, a comment Reuters called a “rare show of support from a French official to a candidate for a crucial foreign election”.
. @HillaryClinton, une femme exceptionnelle pour un poste qui nécessite des qualités exceptionnelles
— Laurent Fabius (@LaurentFabius) 13 april 2015
It came after Steinmeier on Sunday wished Clinton success in an op-ed in Bild, Germany’s top-selling daily paper. “Hillary Clinton ... has profiled herself not only as a reliable partner for Europe and as friend of Germany, but she has also proven she has sure instincts in world crises – from Afghanistan to the Middle East,” he wrote.
Reuters quoted him as saying Clinton knew and understood Europe’s way of thinking and that in turbulent times it was important to have a partner at the top of the US who was not driven by ideology.
“With Hillary Clinton, there is a woman running who is a master of the craft of politics like few other people. Above all in foreign affairs,” wrote Steinmeier, according to Reuters.
The interventions from the top diplomats of two European countries were unusual, but fell short of breaking diplomatic protocol, said Quentin Peel, European fellow at Chatham House, a foreign policy thinktank.
“I think what Steinmeier said is a fair old statement of the obvious,” Peel said. “He’s not exactly taking sides but, having said that, there is no doubt that the present line up of the Republican side is not exactly what the Europeans are keen on.”
He said such “very positive” interventions from European foreign ministers were interesting but unsurprising given the track record of relations between Europe and the US, which had left many on the continent keen to avoid a repeat of the last Republican presidency. “I think that the experience of George W Bush was pretty bruising for Europeans, particularly for the French and the Germans,” Peel said.
Fabius met Clinton several times after he became minister in François Hollande’s Socialist government in 2012, when Clinton was secretary of state. He praised her “leadership” and “natural authority” in July during a reception organised in her honour in Paris.
Steinmeier said he got to know Clinton during his first term as foreign minister and “valued her as a wise partner to talk with and also as a politician who can listen”.
Clinton has begun a tour of key states in her campaign to become president, tweeting that she was leaving for Iowa, the first US state to vote when the primary elections to choose each party’s candidate begin early next year.
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