German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday rejected accusations by U.S. President Donald Trump that Berlin owes NATO and the United States “vast sums” for defense, according to media reports.
“There is no debt account at NATO,” said von der Leyen said in a statement, adding that it is inaccurate to link the target for members to spend 2 percent of their economic output on defence by 2024 solely to NATO.
“Defence spending also goes into UN peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against IS terrorism,” von der Leyen said.
Her statement stressed the need to have a “modern security concept” hereby all NATO members could fairly shoulder the burden of security threats.
Spending therefore works towards a modern NATO as well as a European defence union and investment in the United Nations.
Trump said on Twitter on Saturday – a day after meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington – that Germany “owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!”
The US President has urged Germany and other members of NATO to stick to the alliance’s agreed defence spending target.
Whilst in Washington, Merkel stressed Germany’s commitment to her 2 percent military spending goal – up from 1.18 per cent last year.
German defence spending is set to rise by 1.4 billion euros to 38.5 billion euros in 2018 – a figure understood to represent 1.26 per cent of economic output, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said.