French President Francois Hollande, who last month endorsed Hillary Clinton in the U.S. presidential race, said the November ballot threatens to play out along similar lines to the U.K.’s European Union referendum.
Just as U.K. voters rejected calls from political leaders and institutions to stay in the EU, a similarly anti-establishment sentiment may be brewing in the U.S., potentially damaging relations with Europe, Hollande said.
“The arguments in the Brexit vote and in the American presidential campaign are about the same,” Hollande told reporters Saturday at a NATO summit in Warsaw. “In a friendly way, may I also give some advice to the American people to make the right choice when the moment comes.” He didn’t mention either of the presumptive candidates by name.
Hollande backed Clinton in a June 30 interview with Les Echos newspaper, saying that the rhetoric of her main opponent, Donald Trump, puts him on the same level as Europe’s extreme right. Trump has said the U.S. is paying too much to sustain NATO, raising the prospect of less involvement from Washington at a time when the alliance is bolstering its defenses to counter security threats in Europe’s south and east.
President Barack Obama told reporters at the end of the summit that links between Europe and the U.S. would remain strong no matter what.
“In this challenging moment I want to take this opportunity to state clearly what will never change, and that is the unwavering commitment of the United States to the security and defense of Europe, to our trans-Atlantic relationship, to our commitment to our common defense,” Obama said.
The U.S. election was raised elsewhere during the summit. Asked about a potential Trump presidency, Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkievicius said he hopes “predictability and continuity” will prevail after what is set to be a heated election campaign.
Poland isn’t concerned the U.S. would reverse its backing for four new NATO battalions in eastern Europe, including one stationed on its soil, according to Krzysztof Szczerski, an adviser to President Andrzej Duda. Such commitments have a “permanent character” and are “made by countries, not particular leaders,” he said.
Hollande, whose country has been the target of terrorist attacks, said that Europe needs strong ties with the U.S. and the upcoming presidential election “can’t question this relationship.”
“We need this relationship for peace and security,” he said. “At the same time, we must show how this relationship can prove efficient against terrorism.”