NATO head Jens Stoltenberg urged Germany Tuesday to spend more on defense, touching on a sore point in German politics that has also inflamed relations with the United States.
“For me it’s decisive that the U.S. and Germany agree that we have to invest more in our security,” the former Norwegian prime minister told German business daily Handelsblatt.
Increasing defense budgets “isn’t about making the U.S. happy,” he went on. “It’s about Europe’s security. Europe is much closer to the crises and threats than the U.S., closer to Russia, closer to Syria and Iraq.”
A long-simmering row over NATO spending exploded into the open with the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, who complains that allies are taking advantage of American protection.
Heads of state in the alliance agreed in 2014 to aim to raise defense spending to 2.0 percent of GDP within a decade.
Only five countries – the U.S., Britain, Greece, Poland, and Estonia – are currently meeting the target, while Germany spends just 1.2 percent of GDP.