US President Donald Trump on Thursday reiterated his stand that all 28 NATO members needed to contribute their fair share of funds to their defence budget, reported AFP. President Trump was speaking at the NATO headquarter in Brussels where he firmly asked all member countries to fulfill their necessary obligation to spend the equivalent of at least 2 per cent of their gross domestic product annually on defense.
Trump has raised concerns about NATO members spending less than what was necessary throughout his election campaign, raising concerns about the future of the alliance.
Article 5 of North Atlantic Treaty — the 1949 pact that established the NATO alliance, makes it mandatory for all members to contribute at least 2 per cent of the GDP towards their defence.
However, at present, besides US, only four other NATO members meet the threshold of spending 2 per cent on their GDP on defence, including UK, Estonia, Greece, Poland.
US is by far the largest spender on defence, pulling in $664 billion last year, or more than double the rest of all NATO countries combined.
During his election campaign, Trump had said that members were not committed to the alliance financially and and the organization isn’t designed to fight terrorism. His comments had raised huge concerns for US allies. In a interview with ABC news in March 2016 Trump had even said “I think NATO’s obsolete. NATO was done at a time you had the Soviet Union, which was obviously larger, much larger than Russia is today. I’m not saying Russia’s not a threat. But we have other threats. We have the threat of terrorism and NATO doesn’t discuss terrorism, NATO’s not meant for terrorism.”
However, he later toned down his stance after he met NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on April 12, 2017. He later said “The secretary general and I had a productive conversation about what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism.”
But Trump has time and again reemphasized that all members need to contribute their fair share on defence. On February, 28, Trump reaffirmed his support for NATO, but added that all members must meet their financial obligations.
“We expect our partners, whether in NATO, in the Middle East, or the Pacific –- to take a direct and meaningful role in both strategic and military operations, and pay their fair share of the cost,” Trump had said at the time.
During his speech Trump accused low-spending members of the alliance of owing “massive amounts of money” to NATO, and allies would drive out militants and urged all nations to do the same.
“We will never waiver in our determination to defeat terrorism and achieve lasting security, prosperity and peace,” Trump said after unveiling a memorial to commemorate the Sept 11, 2001 attacks in US, at the NATO headquarters.
Referring to Monday’s suicide bomb in Manchester that killed 22 people, including children, Trump Said “Terrorism must be stopped or … the horror you saw in Manchester and so many other places will continue forever.”