NATO is worried by a remark by US President-elect Donald Trump that the 28-member alliance is “obsolete,” says German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Steinmeier voiced the military alliance’s worries and his own “amazement” following a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels on Tuesday.
“I’ve spoken today not only with EU foreign ministers but NATO foreign ministers as well and can report that the signals are that there’s been no easing of tensions,” he said.
In an interview with The Times, Trump said that NATO was “obsolete, because it was designed many, many years ago” and that “because it wasn’t taking care of terror.”
“And the other thing is the countries aren’t paying their fair share so we’re supposed to protect countries,” he added, while stressing that this was unfair to the US.
German Vice-Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel also responded by stressing that Europe is already making “enormous achievements” in the field of defense.
“That’s why I also thought it wasn’t right to talk about defense spending, where Mr. Trump says we are spending too little to finance NATO. We are making gigantic financial contributions to refugee shelters in the region, and these are also the results of US interventionist policy,” he said.
In relation to Trump’s remarks, the head of Germany’s foreign affairs committee, Norbert Roettgen, said that Germany should move towards restoring Western unity.
“Europe is not able to replace the security role of the United States so there is a lot at stake — the very foundations of liberal order internationally and European security. And for that we should fight because it is our very existential interest,” he noted.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel reacted by saying that Trump’s positions have been “long known…I think we Europeans have our fate in our own hands.”
“I’m personally going to wait until the American president takes office, and then we will naturally work with him on all levels,” she said.
French Foreign Mistier Jean-Marc Ayrault also reacted to Trump’s remarks by stating that the best response would be for further unity among European countries.
Russia agrees with Trump
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow agrees with Trump’s remark that NATO is a thing of the past.
“NATO is, indeed, a vestige [of the past] and we also agree with that. We have long been speaking about our views on this organization,” he said.
“Considering that it [the organization] is focused on confrontation and its entire structure is devoted to the ideals of confrontation, then, of course, this can hardly be called a modern structure meeting the ideas of stability, sustainable development and security,” he added.