European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker attends a debate on the priorities of the incoming Malta Presidency of the EU for the next six months at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann(reuters_tickers)
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Donald Trump should lay off talking about the break-up of the European Union, the bloc's chief executive said on Wednesday, pointing out that Europeans do not push for Ohio to secede from the United States.
In pointed remarks on the eve of Trump's inauguration as U.S. president, Jean-Claude Juncker said the new administration would realise it should not damage transatlantic relations but added it remained unclear what policies Trump would now pursue.
Juncker told Germany's BR television, according to a transcript from the Munich station, that he was sure no EU state wanted to follow Britain's example and leave the bloc, despite Trump's forecast this week that others would quit:
"Mr. Trump should also not be indirectly encouraging them to do that," Juncker said. "We don't go around calling on Ohio to pull out of the United States."
Juncker, the president of the European Commission, said he had yet to speak to Trump -- contrary to what the President-elect said earlier this week. Juncker said Trump had confused him with European Council President Donald Tusk.
"Trump spoke to Mr. Tusk and mixed us up," said Juncker, taking a jab at the American billionaire's grasp of his new role. "That's the thing about international politics," he said. "It's all in the detail."
(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Gareth Jones)