The French President François Hollande called on Europe to unite against his American counterpart Donald Trump on Saturday. He wants a “firm” response to Trump, who publically celebrated Brexit and just signed a controversial decree that has caused huge problems for many foreign travellers. “I think we should respond “firmly”, Mr Hollande said during a summit involving 7 countries from the south of the EU. It was held in Lisbon.
Although the arrival of the new American President was not officially on the agenda of this “Mediterranean EU summit”, it was one of the main topics of conversation. Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and Malta were also represented. It ended with a joint declaration, which doesn’t mention the new administration explicitly. It calls for a “strong and united” EU. “When the President of the United States makes statements on Europe and mentions Brexit for other countries, we need to respond”, François Hollande said.
A few hours later, during their first telephone conversation, Hollande warned the White House’s new occupant about “the economic and political consequences of a protectionist policy”. He called for the US to “respect” Europe’s policy of “taking in refugees”. “Faced with an uncertain and unstable world, isolating yourself is not a good idea”, the French head of state said in a press release.
This was a direct response to the “anti-refugee decree” the American President has signed. On Saturday, Trump said his controversial decree, which became law the day before, “works very well”. “We see it at airports, we see it everywhere”, he summarised. While he said this, there were huge problems at JFK. Flights arriving at New York were disrupted as a direct result of the decree stopping nationals of seven Muslim countries entering the United States for 90 days. Several hundred people protested against it in the Car park of Terminal 4. 2 Democrat Congress members for New York, Jerry Nadler and Nydia Velasquez, were there to try and negotiate the release of people being held at JFK under the new decree. After an Iraqi national who had worked for the American government was successfully released at the beginning of the afternoon, Mr Nadler said he and Mrs Velasquez wanted to get 10 others released. But Mrs Velasquez added they didn’t “know exactly how many people are being held” and “how many are currently on board airplanes” heading to JFK.
The decree was signed at the end of Friday afternoon and quickly instigated by customs authorities. This took nationals of these countries already heading to the US by surprise. The countries affected are Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Syria.