In a shift away from his messages of optimism for President-elect Donald Trump's upcoming presidency, President Barack Obama warned Berliners on Nov. 18 that the growing nationalist movements in the U.S. and Europe could lead to a "meaner" world if they remain unchecked.
"I think our politics everywhere are going to be going through a bumpy phase," Obama said during his last visit as president to Berlin, Germany, where he met with his close ally, Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to CNN.
The president cautioned that the next generation would see a "meaner, harsher, more troubled world" if people from all ends of the political spectrum "are unwilling to compromise and engage in the democratic process" and continue to get skewed and inaccurate information from the internet as nationalist rhetoric grows in popularity in Europe and the U.S.
"Whoever is president and whoever is the chancellor of Germany and whoever is the leader of other European nations and other democracies around the world, they need to recognize that," Obama said. "There are going to be forces that argue for cynicism. For looking the other way with somebody else's problems. That are not going to champion people who are vulnerable because sometimes that's politically convenient."
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Obama's words in Germany are markedly different from most of the rhetoric he has issued since Trump's win, having advocated a peaceful transition of power and reassuring Americans that the democratic system will remain in place under Trump's presidency, according to The Hill.
"I think ultimately he's pragmatic … and that can serve him well as long as he's got good people around him and he has a good sense of direction," Obama said after meeting with the president-elect, notes The Hill.
But in Germany, Obama warned Merkel and the rest of his audience that world leaders "will be giving to our children a worst world" if the U.S. and Europe do not maintain a "strong transatlantic alliance," including NATO, reports CNN.
"We will go backwards instead of forwards" in the scenario, Obama cautioned. "So whoever the U.S. president is, whoever the chancellor of Germany is, we need to remember that. And our citizenry who decide who our presidents and chancellors are need to remember that."