Hollande and Kerry hit out at Trump's European interviews

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Hollande responds to Trump, saying the EU 'has no need for outside advice'

French president Francois Hollande said the US and EU share the same values (AFP)
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Tuesday 17 January 2017 8:53 UTC
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French President Francois Hollande replied bluntly on Monday to Donald Trump's criticism of the European Union, saying the EU "has no need for outside advice" on its affairs.

"I say it here, Europe will always be willing to pursue transatlantic cooperation, but it will determine its path on the basis of its own interests and values," Hollande said at a ceremony in Paris for outgoing US ambassador Jane Hartley.

"It has no need for outside advice to tell it what it has to do."

In a hard-hitting interview published on Sunday by The Times of London and Germany's Bild, the US president-elect praised Britain's vote to leave the EU, and said Europe had been weakened by its policy on migrants.

Trump says NATO is 'obsolete'

He criticised as "catastrophic" Germany's decision to open its borders to Syrian refugees, hailed Brexit as "a great thing" and predicted other countries would follow Britain in leaving the EU.

"[...] If refugees keep pouring into different parts of Europe... I think it's gonna be very hard to keep it together because people are angry about it," Trump said.

He also said NATO was "obsolete, because it was designed many, many years ago... [and isn't] taking care of terror".

Trump further noted that only a small number of its 28 members met a commitment on levels of military spending.

Taking aim at Trump but without naming him, Hollande said relations between Europe and the United States "have always been founded on in the same principles and values.

"These values are called respect, mutual support at times of danger, but also commitment to democracy, the defence of freedoms, equality between men and women, the dignity of being a human being."

And, he added, the principle of offering asylum to those fleeing persecution was a core value shared in Europe and the US too.

NATO "will only become obsolete when threats become obsolete too," Hollande added tartly.

"We are committed to our alliances, but we are also able to be self-sufficient strategically. This is what France has always defended, in the name of its independence, in total complementarity with NATO."

In his interview with those two European news outlets, Trump also discussed Israel/Palestine, Iraq and the Iran nuclear deal.

READ: Donald Trump and the Middle East: What he thinks on Israel, Iran and Syria

Outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry also took aim at Trump’s interview on Monday, saying it was wrong to criticise "courageous" German leader Angela Merkel.

Stopping over in London on the closing stages of his final diplomatic tour, just four days before Trump is due to take office, Kerry gave an interview to CNN International.

Asked about the furore surrounding Trump's interview by Trump with The Times and Bild, Kerry defended the European Union, Merkel and Germany's refugee policy.

"I thought, frankly, it was inappropriate for a president-elect of the United States to be stepping in to the politics of other countries in a quite direct manner," Kerry told CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

"He'll have to speak for that," Kerry warned. "As of Friday he's responsible for that relationship.

"But I think we have to be very careful about suggesting that one of the strongest leaders in Europe - and one of the most important in respect of where we are heading - made one mistake or another."

Kerry also said: "I think she was extremely courageous and I don't think it amounts to that characterisation at all."

He warned that Europe's enemies, including Russia, are trying to divide the West, and recalled that President Barack Obama's administration had strongly opposed Brexit.

While in London, Kerry was to have a private farewell dinner with Britain's top diplomat Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and give farewell interviews to media. 

On Tuesday, he is due to fly to the World Economic Forum in Davos for a final set of discussions with members of the global business and political elite.