Germany rejects President Trump's claim it owes North Atlantic Treaty Organisation 'vast sums'

Cornelia Mascio
Marzo 20, 2017

"There is no debt account at NATO", Ms von der Leyen said in a statement, adding that it was wrong to link the alliance's target for members to spend 2 per cent of their economic output on defence by 2024 exclusively to NATO. "Defense spending also goes into United Nations peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against IS terrorism".

"Number two the countries weren't paying what they're supposed to be paying", he said, adding that this was unfair to the United States. But Trump and members of his cabinet have been unusually critical of the alliance and how it is funded.

In 2016, Germany's defence spending ratio stood at 1.18 per cent.

German defense spending is set to increase by 1.4 billion euros to 38.5 billion euros in 2018, Reuters reported.

Such discrepancies are unlikely to go unnoticed by Trump, who already has complained about Germany's sizable trade advantage with the U.S. Berlin also has an overall budget surplus of some $25 billion.

Trump, who was spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida, said on Twitter on Saturday - a day after meeting the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, in Washington - that Germany "owes vast sums of money to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!" The other 24 member nations contribute less than 10% of the budget each, with some, including Albania, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, contributing less than 1% each.

He added that "the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!"

The figure is now at 1.23 percent, though Germany has been raising defense spending and Merkel has stressed its commitment to reaching the target by 2024. But the Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania, fearful of the threat of Russian Federation from the east, are on course to meet the 2 percent goal, as is Romania.

"America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to this alliance, each of your capitals needs to show support for our common defense", he said last month.

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