Obama in Belgium: Europe and US can overcome differences by pursuing same values

Former US president Barack Obama spoke on Sunday at the opening of SuperNova, the technology festival organised by Flanders Technology and Innovation (FTI). He emphasised that while Europe and the US have different interests and perspectives, they can overcome them by sharing the same values.

Obama spoke at the Studio 100 pop-up theatre in Puurs, Antwerp province, to an audience of around 2,000 people who had either bought tickets at a cost of 650 euros or had been invited. The audience responded with two standing ovations.

The talk began with Obama shaking hands with moderator Jurgen Ingels, the instigator of SuperNova. While Ingels focused on business and leadership, Obama was able to shed light on current political realities - without mentioning Donald Trump - who he referred to as "my successor" - by name.

Commitment to NATO

When asked about the future of US-European relations, he said: "Ask me that again in December! I think it's important that we recognise different interests and different perspectives, but a general commitment to values like the rule of law, freedom of speech, the welfare state, the market economy, that's what brings us together." He acknowledged that values are under threat on both sides.

"A general commitment to values like the rule of law, freedom of speech, the welfare state, the market economy, that's what brings us together"

Obama also argued that Trump was sending a "bad signal" by questioning the importance of NATO. "I'm very proud of how Europe is standing with Ukraine, despite the heavy energy burden," he said.

"But there are also certain aspects of NATO that need to be adjusted. Europe has not contributed to its defence as much as its wealth would allow. These are legitimate concerns, but they are small if we stick to our liberal democratic, market-oriented values."


#FlandersNewsService | © PHOTO JIM WATSON / AFP

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