DN - Defence Notes

Germany says it makes 'independent decisions'

11th July 2018 - 14:20 GMT | by ​Agence France-Presse in Brussels

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel on 11 July said Germany makes ‘independent decisions,’ firing back at US President Donald Trump after he accused Berlin of being a ‘captive’ of Russia.

Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, said as she arrived at a tense NATO summit: ‘I myself have also experienced a part of Germany being occupied by the Soviet Union. I am very glad that we are united today in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany and that we can therefore also make our own independent policies and make our own independent decisions.’

Trump said on 11 July that Germany was a ‘captive’ and ‘controlled’ by Russia because of the country's dependence on Russian gas which is set to increase with the construction of a new pipeline.

Merkel also addressed repeated criticism from Trump over Germany's military spending, which is below the target level agreed by NATO members.

Merkel added: ‘Germany owes a lot to NATO. The fact that reunification has taken place also has a great deal to do with NATO, but Germany is also doing a great deal for NATO. We are the second largest provider of troops, we put most of our military capabilities at the service of NATO.’

NATO members agreed in 2014 to aim to raise their annual military spending to the equivalent of 2% of gross domestic product.

Figures released from NATO on 10 July showed Europe's biggest economy spent just 1.24% of GDP on defence, compared with 3.5% for the US.

Under new plans, Germany has announced its intention to raise its defence spending by 80% over the next decade.

But Trump dismissed this as not enough on 11 July morning. He said as he met with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg: ‘These countries have to step it up, not over a ten-year period, they have to step it up immediately. Germany is a rich country.

They talk about that they can increase it a tiny bit by 2030. Well, they could increase it immediately tomorrow and have no problem. I don't think it's fair to the United States.’

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