Osaka: EU President Donald Tusk on Friday lashed out at his Russian counterpart in unusually undiplomatic language, saying he "strongly disagreed" with Vladimir Putin when he said liberalism was "obsolete." In an interview with the Financial Times, the Kremlin strongman said the "liberal idea has become obsolete" and was now "in conflict" with what people around the world want.
Tusk joked to reporters that he had been able to read the entire interview due to jet-lag but quickly turned serious as he bashed Putin's comments. "I have to say that I strongly disagree with the main argument that liberalism is obsolete," Tusk said. "Whoever claims that liberal democracy is obsolete also claims that freedoms are obsolete, that the rule of law is obsolete and that human rights are obsolete," added the EU president.
These are "essential and vibrant values" for Europeans, said Tusk, hitting out again at Russia. "What I find really obsolete are authoritarianism, personality cults, the rule of oligarchs, even if sometimes they may seem effective," said Tusk.
The feisty comments fitted the tone of this year's G20 meeting in Osaka where leaders are expected to clash over trade, foreign policy and climate change. US President Donald Trump already attacked friend and foe alike on domestic soil before flying to Osaka but appeared to strike a more conciliatory tone upon arrival, predicting a "very successful day."