German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced that Germany will work to meet its obligations to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), just a week or so after the U.S. Ambassador to Germany called the country out for ducking its responsibilities.
Stars and Stripes reported last week that Merkel announced Germany would improve its military and boost its contributions to NATO. Member nations are required to spend 2% of their GDP on defense spending, yet Germany – Europe’s largest economy – barely pays more than 1%.
President Donald Trump has criticized Germany for failing to meet its NATO obligations even as other members have increased their defense spending.
“People are paying and I am very happy with the fact they are paying,” Trump said in April while meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Trump added, “Germany, honestly, is not paying their fair share.”
Earlier in August, Richard Grenell, the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, heavily criticized Germany’s failure to fund its military, which appears to be what prompted Merkel’s change. In a statement to The Daily Wire, Grenell emphasized the need for Germany to increase defense spending.
“We have made clear that meeting the NATO obligation of paying 2% of your GDP for defense is important for the largest economy in Europe,” Grenell said. “There is lots of talk in Europe about multilateralism but I can’t think of a more successful multilateral organization than NATO.”
Grenell, according to Stars and Stripes, also released a statement calling it “actually offensive” that the U.S. was paying to keep troops stationed in Germany while the country wouldn’t even meet the minimum defense spending target of 2% GDP.
The 2% requirement started in 2014, under President Barack Obama. Other European nations have increased their defense spending since Trump took office. Poland has even offered $2 billion to build a permanent base of U.S. troops. Grenell and other Trump administration officials had previously threatened to move troops out of Germany and into Poland if Berlin didn’t start increasing defense spending.
Now Merkel appears to have gotten the message, announcing last week that Germany would move toward contributing 2% of GDP to its military.
“I think that the German (bases) are good locations for the American soldiers,” Merkel said Wednesday after meeting with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda.
“There are good reasons for the (U.S.) bases here in Germany but at the same time we know that we must take the pains to get the German military in better shape,” she added.
Germany is a long way from 2%. Stars and Stripes reported that the country would strive to contribute 1.5% of GDP toward defense spending by the end of 2020 and wouldn’t likely reach 2% until after 2024.
“So this means in the direction of 2%, and we will continue to go in this direction also after 2024,” Merkel said, according to Reuters.