NATO boss says increased spending vital to US relationship
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has published his annual report and underlined the importance of increasing defence budgets in face of the shifting security landscape.
The report highlighted how the alliance had made strides towards increasing its spending on defence with 23 allies increasing their expenditure in real terms by 3.8 %, which added up to ten billion US dollars in 2016.
Stoltenberg said in NATO’s 2016 annual report that it was vital allies increase their defence budgets if the security relationship with the United States is to be maintained: “This is essential for the continued strength of the transatlantic bond on which our alliance is founded.
“For almost 70 years the unique partnership between Europe and North America has ensured peace and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic. That is an achievement we can never take for granted.”
President Trump had been highly critical of NATO members who failed to meet their financial obligations, even describing the alliance as “obsolete” and failing to raise to meet the threat of extremist terrorists.
The Secretary General confirmed that only five NATO members spent 2% or more of GDP on defence in 2016. He said: “It is realistic that all Allies should reach this goal. All Allies have agreed to it at the highest level and it can be done.”
Mr Stoltenberg said the goal was achievable with European Allies together spending 2% of GDP on defence as recently as the year 2000 and was encouraged that Romania plans to reach 2% this year, both Latvia and Lithuania expecting to do the same in 2018.
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