Angela Merkel is facing down the barrel of a “make or break” meeting with US President Donald Trump this Tuesday (14 March) and the pressure is on. Merkel is being expected to either tide over her sour history with Trump and let bygones be bygones, or leave things the way they are and jeopardise the relationship between the United States and Germany, which will plummet but can’t get as bad as ut was in the early 1940s, surely.

Trump called Merkel’s open door policy ‘insane’

Trump and Merkel have a murky and chequered history. Where Merkel has an open door policy allowing in refugees to seek shelter in Germany, Trump has banned them from entering the country entirely now that he’s in power, and he once called Merkel’s policy “insane,” believing it is inviting in terrorism, because he believes that Muslims and terrorists are the same thing.

Also, in Germany, there are serious fears about what Trump is going to do with regards to NATO, as well as being rocked by his executive order to ban travellers from six (formerly seven) Muslim-majority nations from setting foot on US soil.

The light and playful relationship between the US and Germany, epitomised in the “bench photo” of Merkel alongside Barack Obama at the G7 (formerly G8) summit, will be quickly dashed out the window now that Trump has taken control of the Oval Office and turned it into bigot central. However, if Merkel can swallow her pride (and she can probably swallow a lot - how do you think she’s stayed in power all this time?) during this meeting with Trump, it can still be salvaged.

A quick pop-in with no riff-raff

Whereas previous meetings with Trump by Japanese leader Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Theresa May have stirred up a storm of press coverage and fanfare, Merkel’s Tuesday visit will be no more than a quick courtesy pop-in. Where Abe spent the weekend golfing with the President at his Florida resort and he coined the nickname “my Maggie” for May (oh, God), Merkel is going for a much more low-key event.

The University of Buckingham’s German politics expert Professor Anthony Glees says that Germany’s perception of Merkel’s “attitude” towards Trump is that she has been “passive aggressive,” which sounds bad until he says that Trump’s attitude towards Merkel is being seen as “active aggressive.” So, this promises to be quite a meeting.

Glees says that Merkel and Trump must, in an official capacity, “agree to disagree” on their past arguments during this meeting and form a pact in order “to work together.”

Mike Pence jumped in there first

By way of easing the transition towards Trump, the White House first arranged for a meeting between Merkel and Vice President Mike Pence two weeks ago at a Munich security conference. Among the areas that Trump and Merkel will discuss are: relations with Russia and China, the global economy, and taking on the Islamic State. This is an important meeting because the US/Germany relationship needs to remain intact before the G20 leaders get together in July or that could lead to chaos in a global scale, whereas now it’s confined nicely to the United States.