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NATO chief urges Germany to boost defense spending

September 17, 2023

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said during Cold War defense spending was three to four percent and said it must happen again.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called on Germany to hike military spendingImage: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg has called on Germany to ramp up defense spending in an interview with local media.

In an interview with the Funke media group, Stoltenberg said: "During the Cold War, when Konrad Adenauer or Willy Brandt governed, defense expenditures consisted of three to four percent of economic output."

"We did it back then, and we must today also do it again," Stoltenberg encouraged, pointing out that the situation was similar in his home country, Norway where defense spending was short of the 2% target committed to by NATO members states.

Stoltenberg said he knew from his years as the head of the Norwegian government "how difficult it is, to budget more money for defense, when higher expenditures are also needed for health, education or infrastructure."

NATO mulls first defense strategy since Cold War

Germany's defense spending pledge

Shortly after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledged €100 billion ($106.7 billion) of the 2022 budget for military expenditure, and promised to hit 2% of GDP spending on defense.

In June Scholz told the Bundestag again that the German government planned to spend 2% of GDP in 2024 "for the first time in decades," at least if the current budget and GDP projections proved accurate.

The German government has been supporting Ukraine militarily by supplying equipment and weapons.  These come from supplies of the country's armed forces and from deliveries financed by government funding for security capacity building.

Scholz lays out German defense policy

Must prepare for 'long war in Ukraine' — Stoltenberg

The NATO chief also stressed that there would be no swift end to the war in Ukraine. "Most wars last longer than expected when they first begin," Stoltenberg said.

"We are all wishing for a quick peace," said Stoltenberg.

"But at the same time, we must recognize: If President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainians stop fighting, their country will no longer exist.

"If President Putin and Russia lay down their weapons, we will have peace," Stoltenberg said.

The NATO chief also said he was confident that Ukraine would at some point join the alliance. "There is no doubt that Ukraine will eventually be in NATO."

The NATO summit in Vilnius concluded in July with a framework paving the way for long-term security guarantees for Ukraine to deter Russian aggression.

Ukraine pledged to improve government policies which included judicial and economic reforms as well as improving transparency.

kb/rc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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