Skip to Content

Germany challenges NATO spending

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson once again asked European counterparts to pay for Washington's commitment to NATO on Friday, but Germany is not buying it.

Published: April 1, 2017, 10:29 am

    Read more

    Brussels

    Tillerson called on alliance members to submit new defense budget plans by May during a meeting of NATO’s foreign ministers in Brussels.

    “As President Trump has made clear, it is no longer sustainable for the US to maintain a disproportionate share of NATO’s defense expenditures,” Tillerson said. He urged progress toward the agreed goal of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense, agreed on at the 2014 Wales summit. Only five countries at present are above the 2 percent spending mark.

    While US defense expenditure makes up about 70 percent of the total NATO allies’ defense spending, only four European NATO members – Estonia, Greece, Poland and Britain – meet the two-percent target.

    Tillerson’s suggested that the Americans would prefer to micromanage the process, by setting annual milestones that would ensure the defense investment pledge is implemented by the 2024 deadline, the WSJ reported.

    German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, also present, said quite bluntly however that Germany has no intention of meeting the 2 percent goal. “I don’t know a politician in Germany who believes that this would be achievable or even desirable,” Gabriel said. He called the goal “totally unrealistic”, because to meet the US target, he said, Germany would have to increase spending by some €35 billion.

    “The United States will realise it is better to talk about better spending instead of more spending,” he said, pointing out that humanitarian, development and economic aid to stabilise countries and regions should also count.

    He added dryly that Germany already has a “national plan” and “it’s called the budget”.

    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, said the US needed Europe as well. “Two World Wars and the Cold War have taught us all that stability in Europe is of course important for Europe, but it’s also important for the United States,” he said, “and the only time we have invoked Article 5 was after the attack on the United States. Hundreds of thousands of European soldiers and other partner nations have served in Afghanistan alongside US soldiers, and more than a thousand have lost their lives in Afghanistan in an operation which was a direct response to an attack on the United States.”

    Stoltenberg rejected Gabriel’s call to include non-military spending toward the goal, he said Germany was moving “in the right direction” with more military spending after years of cuts.

    Trump said during his presidential campaign that NATO member countries should increase defense spending to support the organisation.

    The Times of London reported last month that Trump apparently had handed over a bill for NATO during Merkel’s visit to Washington DC for $375 billion, an invoice for “overdue” defense expenses.

    Per The Hill, Merkel ignored the invoice but it has ruffled German feathers. In response to the claims, German defence minister Ursula Von der Leyen rejected the notion the European nation owed the US or NATO.

    She issued a statement noting that: “There is no debt account at NATO. Defence spending also goes into UN peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against [Isis] terrorism.”

    “The concept behind putting out such demands is to intimidate the other side,” a German minister told the newspaper.

    A senior NATO official told the Financial Times in London that there was no consensus among ministers about the division between spending, military capabilities and operational commitments.

    Meanwhile the German military, the Bundeswehr, a high-value target for hackers and foreign spy agencies due to its IT-supported weapons systems, has launched its own cyber command.

    “Cyber and Information Space Command” (CIR), which will become operational today, on April 1, becoming the sixth branch of the German military. The Bundeswehr says it sees itself “at the international forefront”.

    German Air Force General Ludwig Leinhos, was a cyber warfare specialist and responsible for “Cyber Defense” at NATO’s Brussels headquarters until early 2016, but is now leading the German “Cyber Cluster”, aiming to be capable of comprehensive defense in cyberspace, by 2021.

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.

    Europe

    Migrants refuse to clean their own toilets in Dutch shelter

    AlkmaarEight very angry, unwashed migrants in jogging pants gathered in the shared kitchen of the asylum seekers' center in Alkmaar, the Netherlands to complain about having to clean toilets, a Dutch daily reported.

    NATO preparing a ‘military Schengen’

    The US has significantly boosted its forces in Europe, while preparing a "military Schengen" to allow easy movement across borders.

    ‘Refugees’ are not paying German pensions but contributing to poverty

    Germans were promised that an influx of migrants would solve the country's imploding demography. But instead pensioners are bearing the brunt of the wave of newcomers, not benefitting from it.

    Five nights of violence in Toulouse after arrest of niqab-wearer

    ToulouseA police patrol in the southern city of Toulouse, France arrested a woman wearing a niqab last weekend because she refused to show her face. The arrest, which took place in the city’s migrant populated Mirail suburb, sparked five consecutive nights of violence.

    Mayor of Naples refuses docking of US nuclear submarine

    NaplesA nuclear submarine that took part in a series of missile strikes conducted by US, French and UK warships and warplanes against Syria in contravention of the UN Charter, is not welcome near the waters of one of Italy's largest seaports, according to the popular mayor of Naples.

    American survey exposes growing grim mood in Ukraine

    An American Republican survey has exposed the mood in Ukraine: It is currently bad and respondents are expecting worse.

    Italy and Germany threaten to end ‘absurd’ Russia sanctions

    The leader of Lega Nord Matteo Salvini will put an end to “absurd” EU sanctions against Russia if he becomes prime minister of the country he said.

    Pressure increases on Britain to explain strange ‘Novichok’ claims

    Britain needs to show proof that Russia was behind the poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in England, the German government’s coordinator for Russia told German broadcaster ARD on Thursday.

    Migrant identity fraud: From a child to a woman to a man

    An African asylum seeker in France has been sentenced to four months in prison for identity fraud after he claimed that he was underage, then an adult and then switching his gender from female to male.

    Worse than the Cuban crisis, but the West’s population is kept in the dark

    An informative Swedish weekly has revealed the high drama - worse than the Cuban crisis - that enveloped the world in March while the West's population was being kept ignorant.

    Go to archive