Merkel hits back over Nato ‘debt’

The Press and Journal (Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - Nazi taunts, Page 31

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.