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'Germany Must Honour Its Own Promises On Defence Spending', Stoltenberg Says

NATO's Secretary General said Berlin must live up to commitments it had signed up to at a summit in 2014.

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As NATO prepares to mark its 70th anniversary and amid unprecedented tensions with Washington, the alliance's Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, said Berlin must live up to commitments it had signed up to at a summit in 2014.

NATO foreign ministers meet in the US capital this week for a low-key celebration of the alliance's 1949 founding treaty with US complaints over weak European military spending firmly on the agenda.

All the allies agreed to move towards spending two per cent of GDP on defence by 2024, but last month Berlin announced that its own figure was set to fall in the coming years, from 1.37 per cent in 2020 to just 1.25 per cent in 2023.

President Donald Trump has previously raised concerns over NATO allies not meeting defence spending targets, especially calling out Germany, and has threatened to "go alone" if Europe does not step up.

All the allies agreed to move towards spending two per cent of GDP on defence by 2024, but last month Berlin announced that its own figure was set to fall in the coming years, from 1.37 per cent in 2020 to just 1.25 per cent in 2023.

Jens NATO
Jen Stoltenberg will remain as the Secretary General until 2022.

Stoltenberg has responded by saying: "I expect Germany to make good on the pledge Germany made together with all other NATO allies.

"I expect them to meet spending commitments, and they have submitted to NATO a national plan where they outline how Germany will increase defence spending in real terms by 80 per cent over a decade."

Speaking in New York, Heiko Maas, Germany's foreign minister, said that Berlin has already boosted defence spending by almost 40 per cent since 2014:

"We are grateful for our partnership within NATO, which has enabled us Europeans to enjoy security, stability and prosperity over the last 70 years. 

"But public debates about burden-sharing in NATO are generating uncertainty, at a time when Russia is trying to test our unity again and again.

"Europeans know that we need to assume greater responsibility for our security. It lies in our own interest."

In 2018, only seven of NATO's 29 member states were reaching their two per cent defence spending target. 

Stoltenberg has recently had his position as Secretary General extended by two years to 2022.

He has insisted that the US is fully committed to NATO and stepping up its investment of troops and resources in Europe.

Stoltenberg has also reiterated his plans to invest $260 million in a storage and maintenance facility in Poland to support US forces.

This will allow equipment to be "pre-positioned" as part of NATO's efforts to step up its ability to counter the threat posed by Russia.