Stoltenberg: More money for defense

International – NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wants to persuade Germany and the other allies to increase joint spending on defense and deterrence. Spending more money together would underpin the promise of mutual defense and contribute to a fairer burden-sharing, said the Norwegian on Monday in Brussels. The additional money could be used, for example, to support the stationing of NATO troops in the eastern member states as well as air surveillance missions and maneuvers.

“We currently have a system in which the countries that provide the troops also bear all costs,” explained Stoltenberg. He thinks it would be fair if at least part of the NATO budget came out of it. So far, only comparatively few things have been financed from this – for example the two strategic NATO commands and, in the case of operations, the headquarters in the operational area.

It is questionable whether Stoltenberg’s proposal has any chance of being realized. Ultimately, it would mean that allies would have to take a comparatively large part in operations even if they see them politically rather critically and have only given their consent for reasons of loyalty to the alliance.

Meanwhile, NATO headquarters emphasize that it should not be about the financing of operations like the one in Afghanistan, but only about military engagement in the alliance area. Countries that are particularly active there such as Germany could ultimately benefit from a new regulation.

According to the current distribution key, the Federal Republic and the USA currently bear the largest share of NATO’s joint costs. Both countries therefore each contribute around 16.4 percent. The joint military budget for 2021 was last put at around 1.61 billion euros.

According to Stoltenberg, the proposal for higher community spending is part of a package that he plans to present on Wednesday at an online meeting of NATO defense ministers. It therefore also provides for clearer targets for the defense capabilities of the member states in order to ensure compliance with minimum standards. In addition, Stoltenberg proposes, among other things, additional consultations to strengthen political coordination among the 30 alliance states. In his opinion, the current strategic concept of NATO should also be revised.

The Stoltenberg proposals are to be discussed among the member states over the next few weeks. Ideally, they could then get the approval of the heads of state and government at the next summit. A date for this has not yet been set.

Stoltenberg expressed satisfaction with the forecasts for the Allies’ defense spending in 2021. According to current figures, there will be an increase for the seventh year in a row, he said. However, the estimates also show that only a few countries still achieve the common goal of spending two percent of their gross domestic product on defense. According to Stoltenberg, there will probably be just 9 of the 30 allies.

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