Merkel hits back over Nato ‘debt’
Angela Merkel has underlined Germany’s rejection of a claim by US president Donald Trump that her country owes Nato large sums for under-spending on defence.
The German chancellor also pointed to decades of post-World War II military restraint by her country.
Mr Trump tweeted, just one day after meeting Mrs Merkel in Washington, that “Germany owes vast sums of money to Nato”.
He added: “The United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defence it provides to Germany.”
Berlin’s defence budget has long been below Nato’s target of 2% of a member’s gross domestic product. The figure is currently 1.23%, though Germany has been raising defence spending and Mrs Merkel has stressed its commitment to hitting the target by 2024. She said defence spending is “not just about contributions to Nato, but also about European contributions in Africa for example, UN missions”.
She said at a news conference in Hanover with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe: “Not a single Nato member state pays its entire defence budget into Nato.”
Mrs Merkel said defence spending “can’t be uncoupled from historical developments from one day to the next”.
Germany gradually emerged from its post-war diplomatic and military shell after reunification in 1990, sending troops to Kosovo and Afghanistan – though it also refused to join the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Mrs Merkel said: “If you look at our military commitment today, then you see a quarter-century later Germany plays a completely different role. But it is a process, and it is a process that the United States of America wanted. And we cannot simply cast off this process from one day to the next.”
She said defence spending is only one contribution to security, along with development aid and political solutions to conflicts.
Chancellor Angela Merkel next to Ivanka Trump