Merkel ally blasts foreign minister for questioning NATO target
Germany risks losing international credibility if it retreats from its commitment to increase military spending towards the NATO target, a key member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives said on Wednesday, APA reports quoting Reuters.
Norbert Roettgen blasted Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat, for questioning the target of 2 percent of GDP “shortly after the ink had dried” on a deal by their two blocs to renew the “grand coalition” that has ruled since 2013.
SPD members, who must sign off on the deal, began voting in a mail ballot that runs through March 2. A vote against the deal would likely result in a minority government or a new election.
The coalition agreement underscores Germany’s intention to meet its commitments to NATO, but does not explicitly mention the goal of 2 percent spending by 2024.
Roettgen, conservative head of the foreign affairs committee in parliament, told Reuters in an interview that Germany could and should increase military spending to around 1.4 percent or 1.5 percent of economic output by the end of the next four-year legislative period, up from around 1.2 percent now.
“It is doable and it would ensure our credibility, and it would be a step toward ensuring that Germany is seen as a country that ... can also wield political influence,” he said.
U.S. President Donald Trump and other NATO allies are pressing Germany as Europe’s biggest economy and a key power in NATO to spend more on its military, which came under fire this week for nagging shortfalls in equipment.
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