BRUSSELS: A top EU leader on Tuesday rebuffed U.S. President Donald Trump’s claim that European countries are not doing enough to pay for joint defense under NATO.
“I want to dispel the American president’s argument, which says that the US alone protects Europe against our enemies and that the U.S. is almost alone in this struggle,” Donald Tusk, the EU Council president, told reporters in Brussels on the eve of a NATO summit starting Wednesday.
“Europe was first to respond on a large scale when the US was attacked and called for solidarity after 9/11,” he added, referring to the 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S.
“Dear Mr. President, please remember about this tomorrow,” Tusk stressed.
“America does not have, and will not have a better ally than Europe. Today Europeans spend on defense many times more than Russia, and as much as China. And I think you can have no doubt, Mr. president, that this is an investment in common American and European defense and security. Which can’t be said with confidence about Russian or Chinese spending,” he explained.
Referring to Trump’s planned meeting after the NATO summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he added: “When we meet at the NATO summit, but above all when you meet President Putin in Helsinki. It is always worth knowing: who is your strategic friend? And who is your strategic problem?”
Trump tweeted before leaving Washington for the meeting: “The U.S. is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them. Not fair to the U.S. taxpayer,” adding, “NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS. Very unfair!”
NATO countries have a goal of spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense, with a target year of 2024.
Based on the allies’ defense spending, Trump has called into question the U.S. commitment to the alliance’s principle of an attack against one is an attack against all. (AA)