Merkel, Obama to attend podium discussion at Berlin event


Barack Obama received a rock-star welcome in Berlin as he appeared at a public debate Thursday with Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom he praised as one of his "favourite partners" during his presidency.

A participant waves as former United States president Barack Obama leaves the stage after the panel discussion with the German Chancellor during the Protestant church day (Kirchentag) event at the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor) in Berlin on May 25, 2017. All visitors had their bags searched, police helicopters patrolled the skies and snipers with balaclavas watched the scene from nearby rooftops.

He said that as President he had faced a dilemma.

And the fact that many thousands of young Germans turned out to applaud him was testimony to the former president's enduring appeal in parts of Europe, where the Trump presidency is being viewed with dread.

After lauding Merkel, he launched a defence of his own presidency and the values of liberal democracy championed by both leaders.

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"What we now have to recognize, because of globalization and because of technology, and the disruptions that have occurred ... is that this (new world) order that has been created has to be updated and continually renewed, because there is a competing narrative of fear and xenophobia and nationalism and intolerance and anti-democratic trends".

Without mentioning Donald Trump by name, the former president took the opportunity to rail against his successor not only with regards to immigration and the "liberal worldwide order" but also healthcare. He said more needed to be done for people in their own countries so they don't want to leave.

Despite describing the world as "a very complicated place", Obama and Merkel still found time to joke with each other and made the crowd laugh several times. Trump has said he didn't hear a reporter calling for a handshake.

Merkel, who will encounter Trump later on Thursday at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels, discussed political change can sometimes come about more slowly than people wanted but said that it required perseverance over a period of years to get things done.