U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry paid tribute to the European Union on Monday as it tries to heal the wound of Britain’s vote to leave, saying detractors were overlooking what it had achieved in alliance with America.
“I ask anyone who questions the importance of the EU or its relationship with the United States, (to consider) not just the history that I articulated, but the increase of prosperity, the rise in the standard of living … the better protection of rights for individuals in the EU, as a consequence of what we have done together,” Kerry said in Brussels.
He was speaking at a joint news conference with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini after a meeting with his European counterparts including Boris Johnson, Britain’s new foreign minister, who led the Leave campaign.
His comments sounded like a jab at presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who last month forecast the break-up of the EU due to fears over immigration, and at Johnson, who during the campaign compared the EU’s ambitions with those of Hitler and Napoleon.
Kerry, a Democrat, spoke of the close ties between the United States and European Union dating back to the U.S. role in freeing Europe from Nazism in World War Two. But he acknowledged that such memories were fading.
“There’s a whole separation of time which has changed attitudes of some people,” he said, adding that in the face of common threats such as Islamist militancy, the EU-U.S. partnership was “as important as it has ever been”.
Mogherini responded that it sometimes took a clear-sighted transatlantic view to put Europe’s value into perspective.
“I would like to thank you personally, and through you the U.S. administration of President Obama for the strong message and clear message that we always hear from you on the need for a strong and united Europe,” she said.
“Sometimes we need our closest friends, our best friends, to remind us of the extraordinary value of the European Union.”