Joe Biden took a clear jab at his predecessor Donald Trump during a meeting with North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev on Tuesday, highlighting the Southeast European country’s entrance into NATO and contrasting it to Trump’s trip to Helsinki, Finland in 2018.
Biden lauded North Macedonia for becoming “the 30th NATO member” and for their shared “commitment to upholding the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic region.”
By doing so, Biden was alluding to Trump’s widely-criticized trip to Helsinki, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin without any other US officials present, and where Putin made several false claims about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
The contrast Biden highlighted speaks to the Trump administration’s more friendly stance towards Russia, despite it being a key adversary of the US and its European allies. Trump himself was later found to have violated the Emoluments Clause of the US Constitution with his interactions with foreign leaders, through his use of properties owned by the Trump Organization.
Biden’s comments were met positively by Zaev, who praised Biden for “defending the security and stability of Europe and NATO.” He thanked the US for their strong support of North Macedonia’s NATO accession last year, and highlighted the importance of European Union membership for his country.
The meeting comes amid a broader push by Biden’s administration to rebuild US ties with Europe and NATO, which experienced considerable strain under the Trump administration. With Biden’s focus shifting to strengthening such ties, North Macedonia is likely to be a key partner for the US in the future.