During their interview at the White House, Donald Trump would have handed Angela Merkel a small paper indicating the amount that Germany should pay to NATO. It does not devote 2% of its GDP to defense as it had committed itself.
An official visit to the United States on 17th March, German Chancellor Angela Merkel would have been unpleasantly surprised to receive a small paper by US President Donald Trump. It was a symbolic bill of about 350 billion euros, reports the Sunday Times .
Where does this “debt” come from? As a member of NATO, Germany should devote 2% of its GDP to defense, as theoretically imposed on it by a commitment made in 2014 by the member countries of the military organization. However, military expenditure in Berlin never reached that threshold. In 2017, for example, Germany spent only € 37 billion on defense, or 1.2% of GDP.
As for the figure of € 350 billion, it is the product of the difference between the 2% of GDP that Berlin should have allocated to its defense since 2002 and the amounts actually spent on it. It was on this date that Gerhard Schröder, chancellor of the Social Democratic Party, promised to increase defense spending in the country. Donald Trump would also have added interest to this amount.
In the past, Donald Trump had already said that he no longer wants his country to pay for those who do not respect the planned spending. Only the United Kingdom, Greece, Estonia, the United States and Poland are honoring this commitment.
“This is an insulting gesture,” said a German minister who accompanied Angela Merkel, according to the Sunday Times . “The idea of such an approach is obviously to intimidate the other party, but the Chancellor has taken it with coolness and will not respond to such provocations,” he added, adding that ” NATO was not ‘a club with admission fees’.
Conflict between Washington and Berlin
This anecdote further illuminates the tweets published the following day, March 18, on the same subject. “Contrary to what you might have heard as” fake news “, my meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel went very well. Nevertheless, Germany owes significant sums to NATO and the United States must be paid for the effective and costly defense they offer to Germany, “he said.
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen reacted by stating that “there is no account of debts in NATO, Adding that spending on NATO should not be the only criterion for measuring Germany’s military efforts.
The meeting between the German Chancellor and the American president was described as “icy” by the press. In a largely web-based video, Angela Merkel was able to pick up the photographers’ request and ask Donald Trump to “shake her hand” without even sending a glance at him.