Merkel: By design, military reined-in
BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday underlined Germany’s rejection of a claim by U.S. President Donald Trump that her country owes NATO large sums for underspending on defense. She also pointed to Germany’s history of decades of post-World War II military restraint.
Trump tweeted Saturday, a day after meeting Merkel in Washington, that “Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO.” He added that “the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!”
Berlin’s defense budget has long been below NATO’s target of 2 percent of a member’s gross domestic product. The figure is currently at 1.23 percent, though Germany has been raising defense spending and Merkel has stressed its commitment to reaching the target by 2024.
Merkel said defense spending is “not just about contributions to NATO, but also about European contributions in Africa, for example, U.N. missions.”
Merkel said defense spending “can’t be uncoupled from historical developments from one day to the next.” She recalled that the immediate post-World War II aim was to have a Germany that was integrated into the international community.