Obama to Berlin Crowd: 'We Can't Hide Behind a Wall'

Former president appears with Merkel, speaks on democracy, global responsibility
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 25, 2017 9:15 AM CDT
Obama to Berlin Crowd: 'We Can't Hide Behind a Wall'
Former US President Barack Obama, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, arrive for a discussion on democracy and global responsibility at a conference in Berlin, Germany, on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

If anyone understands the concept of a wall, it's the people of Berlin. Which is why former President Obama's appearance there Thursday, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at his side, had particular resonance. "We can't isolate ourselves" from conflict, poverty, and other problems throughout the world, Obama said, per the Guardian. "We can't hide behind a wall." Obama's speech, which took place in front of not a wall, but the Brandenburg Gate, said to be a "national symbol of peace and unity," focused on the concepts of global responsibility and liberal democracy and included a Q&A with attendees. Obama said he was "heartbroken" over the terror attack that took place earlier in the week in Manchester.

While CNN notes Obama didn't specifically name President Trump, who will meet with Merkel later Thursday in Brussels, he did address xenophobia and nationalism, telling his audience to "push back against those trends that would violate human rights or suppress democracy or restrict individual freedoms." He also noted "some regrets" at not being able to achieve a 100% success rate with ObamaCare, but said he worries that "progress" is now endangered by the GOP's proposed health care act. The Obama Foundation says Obama's visit with Merkel—with whom he shares a "genuinely close bond," per the Guardian—was planned before the US election, meaning it's coincidence that Obama is in Europe at the same time as Trump, CNN notes. (One of the last times Obama likely talked to Trump: when he reportedly warned him about Michael Flynn.)

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