NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg NATO speaks at a press conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on March 31, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has called on Germany to boost its military spending, amid US pressure on Berlin to assume a bigger financial role in the alliance.
“For me it is decisive that the US and Germany agree that we have to invest more in our security,” Stoltenberg told German business daily Handelsblatt on Tuesday.
Boosting the military budgets “is not about making the US happy. It is about Europe’s security. Europe is much closer to the crises and threats than the US, closer to Russia, closer to Syria and Iraq,” he pointed out.
US President Donald Trump has accused NATO members, particularly Germany, of taking advantage of American protection, urging the military allies to increase their spending closer to the minimum criterion of two percent of their economic output by the end of the year.
NATO heads of state agreed in 2014 to raise their defense spending to two percent of the GDP within a decade. At present, only five countries – the US, Britain, Greece, Poland, and Estonia – meet the target, while Germany spends just 1.2 percent of GDP.
Stoltenberg welcomed a more than eight-percent budget increase for the German armed forces in 2017 as well as Berlin’s “announcement that spending will be increased further, and noted, “We do not expect Germany to get there in one or two years.”
Trump had said Germany owes the US and NATO “vast sums of money” for the decades of protection by the US.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and US President Donald Trump look on during a meeting at the White House, March 17, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The US president’s proposed national budget seeks a $54 billion increase for the military and a roughly 31-percent cut for the State Department and US Agency for International Development.
No guarantee for peace
Later on Tuesday, Germany’s Development Minister Gerd Muller said the US plan to spend more on its military will not guarantee peace and criticized Trump’s proposal to cut Washington’s foreign aid.
“Anyone who pretends that more military is the answer will see that he will not be getting more peace,” Muller said at a meeting with a group of diplomats.
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