NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg holds a news conference to present NATO’s annual report for 2022, in Brussels, Belgium, March 21, 2023. [Johanna Geron/Reuters]
Greece was among seven out of 30 allies to meet NATO’s military spending target of 2% of GDP in 2022, one country less than in 2021 before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the alliance’s annual report for 2022.
Speaking ahead of the launch, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg urged allies to boost defense investment more quickly.
Stoltenberg told reporters in a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels that the alliance originally had expected two more countries to meet the goal.
“But because GDP has increased more than expected for a couple of allies, two allies that we expected to be at 2% are now slightly below 2%,” he said.
Stoltenberg did not reveal which countries reached the goal but referred to NATO’s annual report to be published later on Tuesday.
The report revealed the seven countries to be Greece – which had the highest rate of expenditure as a share of GDP (3.54), the US, Lithuania, Poland, the UK, Estonia and Latvia.
He urged allies to boost their military spending more swiftly.
“There is no doubt we need to do more, and we need to do it faster. The pace we have when it comes to increase defense spending is not high enough,” Stoltenberg said. “In a more dangerous world, we need to invest more in defense.”
At their Wales summit in 2014, NATO leaders agreed to move towards spending at least 2% of their GDP on defense within a decade.
That decision was then a reaction to what it perceived as a severely deteriorated security situation in Europe months after Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula Crimea.
Almost ten years after the Wales pledge and one year into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, NATO allies launched discussions a few weeks ago on how to adapt the spending target.
A decision is expected at a NATO summit in Lithuania in July, and Stoltenberg has said that he sees the 2% target as a floor and not a ceiling in the future.
Several allies have been pushing for higher military spending, given there is a war raging in Europe, while others are reluctant to raise the pledge. [Reuters]