Barack Obama received a rock-star welcome in Berlin as he appeared at a public debate Thursday with Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom he praised as one of his “favorite partners” during his presidency.
Security was tight in front of the German capital’s iconic Brandenburg Gate, where Obama and Merkel appeared on a podium before thousands of people attending a gathering marking the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Police helicopters patrolled the skies and snipers with balaclavas watched the scene from nearby rooftops.
After lauding Merkel as someone who had done “outstanding work,” Obama launched a defense of his own presidency and the values of liberal democracy championed by both leaders.
Citing the rise of nationalism and xenophobia in parts of the world, Obama told the crowd that “we have to push back against those trends that would violate human rights or suppress democracy or restrict individual freedoms.”