Relations between Germany and the U.S. are at their lowest point in more than a decade because of revelations about American spy programs that reportedly included Chancellor Angela Merkel among their targets, a senior German lawmaker said Thursday.
Philipp Missfelder, the foreign policy spokesman for Merkel’s center-right party, said allegations that the U.S. National Security Agency spied on Germany have prompted a similar loss of trust between the two countries as in 2003, when Berlin refused to support the U.S.-led Iraq war.
“The loss of trust is no less than it was then,” said Missfelder, adding that despite the friction Germany still considers the U.S. a friend, not just an ally.
“We want to restore this lost trust, but that will only work if America’s word counts for something again,” he said.
The 34-year-old, a rising figure in Merkel’s party, has been tipped to become the German government’s coordinator for trans-Atlantic relations. The role will see him involved in future talks with Washington over a “no-spy” pact that Berlin has sought following the spying revelations sparked by documents former NSA analyst Edward Snowden leaked to the media.
Missfelder said that, unless talks on such a pact proceed, a separate existing agreement that gives Washington access to data on financial transactions inside the European Union should be suspended.
German and U.S. officials are expected to discuss the NSA issue when Secretary of State John Kerry visits Germany later this month.
Missfelder categorically rejected the suggestion that Germany might seek membership in the exclusive “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing network, comprising the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
A government spokeswoman said Wednesday that no conditions had been set by Merkel when she accepted President Barack Obama’s offer to visit Washington in the coming months.