Merkel yields to Trump: Germany should meet defense spending obligation

by WorldTribune Staff, February 28, 2017

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany needs to meet its obligation to spend 2 percent of its GDP on defense.

U.S. President Donald Trump is actively pressuring NATO allies to increase their defense spending. Germany currently spends about 1.2 percent of GDP on defense, which Merkel vows to change if she is elected for a fourth term in office this September.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

“Obligations have to be fulfilled,” Merkel said at a campaign rally on Feb. 25. “And, others in the world will demand that of us. And, I think they’re right that Germany must uphold its obligations.”

All of NATO’s 28 members agreed in 2006 to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense. Only five of the members, the U.S., Britain, Greece, Poland, and Estonia, met that threshold last year.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis on Feb. 15 warned allies that they must adopt plans to raise their military spending or risk seeing the NATO’s most powerful member “moderate its commitment to the alliance.”

Germany recently started a number of new defense initiatives with France, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania and the Czech Republic.

Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen announced last week that Germany will expand its military from 178,000 troops to 198,000 by 2024.

Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel questioned the increase in defense spending, arguing that Germany’s spending on integrating a million newly-arrived refugees should be taken into account.

“One has to ask whether it would really calm Germany’s neighbors if we turned into a big military power in Europe and … spent over 60 billion euros ($63 billion) a year (on defense),” Gabriel said, according to Deutsche Welle. “I have my doubts.”

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