Saturday

21st Oct 2017

Trump lukewarm on Nato joint defence

  • Trump's (r) "never forsake the friends" fell short of explicit pledge on Article 5 (Photo: nato.int)

US leader Donald Trump voiced half-hearted support for Nato and reprimanded allies over what he called unpaid debts in his big speech in Brussels on Thursday (25 May).

“We will never forsake the friends who stood by our side”, he said by reference to Nato support for the US after 9/11.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • US leader physically brushed aside prime minister of Montenegro (Photo: nato.int)

His words fell short of an explicit commitment to Article 5 of the Nato treaty, which says that allies, including the US, would defend each other if one of them was attacked.

Most of his speech also criticised fellow leaders for not spending enough on defence.

“This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States and many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years,” he said.

Trump spoke at a Nato summit outside the alliance’s new HQ on his maiden trip to Europe after taking office four months ago.

His speech had been meant to allay concern after he described Nato as “obsolete” and said the US might not defend allies who did not pay their share.

It was also meant to reassure Europe that he would protect it from Russia.

He spoke next to a new memorial to 9/11, which he acknowledged had led to “invoking for the first time in its [Nato’s] history the Article 5 collective defence commitments.”

He observed a minute of silence for victims of last Monday's Manchester attack.

He said: “The Nato of the future must include a great focus on terrorism and immigration, as well as threats from Russia and on Nato’s eastern and southern borders.”

Trump also said another new memorial, to the fall of the Berlin Wall, was “a testament to the triumph of our ideals over a totalitarian Communist ideology”.

But he complained that “23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying ... for their defence”.

German chancellor Angela Merkel said the Berlin Wall memorial reminded her that Nato “stability” and the “courage” of people in eastern Europe had ended Communism.

She said Nato was based on respect for “open societies built on common values”.

Earlier on Thursday, she had indicated that Germany wanted to count non-financial contributions toward its Nato commitment.

“In the future we will not only be asked, ‘How much is spent on defence?’ but also ‘What … skills do we have and what contributions do we make?’,” she said.

“We will also be welcoming the new Nato member Montenegro today”, she added.

Trump later belittled Montenegro’s prime minister, Dusko Markovic, by physically pushing him aside as the leaders took their places for photos.

Ivo Daalder‏, Washington’s former ambassador to Nato under the previous US administration, said Trump’s performance did little to reassure allies.

“Trump needed to say what every predecessor since [former US leader] Truman has said: The US is committed to Article 5. He didn’t. This is a major blow to the alliance”, Daalder‏ said on Twitter.

Michael McFaul, Washington’s former ambassador to Moscow, said: “To help quell speculations about Russia-Trump ties from 2016, Trump could have easily said something tough about Russia at Nato. He didn’t”.

McFaul was referring to allegations that Trump colluded with Moscow in last year’s US elections.

He said Trump was undiplomatic on defence spending. “Some things best done behind closed doors”, he said.

But the US president was not the only controversial leader at Thursday’s event.

Turkey rift

Merkel said she would tell Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan that unless he let German MPs visit German soldiers at a base in Incirlik in Turkey then the soldiers “must leave”.

“It’s indispensable for us because we have a parliamentary army that our soldiers can be visited by the members of the German Bundestag”, she said.

Germany and Turkey recently fell out over rallies by Turkish expats and over Erdogan's authoritarian rule.

The situation in Turkey was highlighted by the New York-based international NGO Human Rights Watch on Thursday.

“How can Turkey be a reliable counterterrorism ally at Nato summit when Erdogan treats all dissent as ‘terrorism’?,” the NGO’s head, Kenneth Roth, said.

Nato to join Trump's anti-IS coalition

Nato will join a US-led coalition against Islamic State and will continue to deter "Russian aggression" its secretary general has said.

Trump expected to make Nato pledge

Nato mutual defence and the fight against Islamic State to take centre stage as US leader meets Nato and EU allies in Brussels.

Nato head defends 'blunt' US leader

Nato chief Stoltenberg defended Trump’s behaviour at Thursday’s summit. The prime minister of Montenegro also apologised for him.

EU mulls joint defence spending

The EU budget should be used for military research and the bloc could become a defence alliance akin to Nato, the European Commission is poised to say.

Macron puts trade policy on summit table

France's president wants a "political discussion" on EU trade policies at Thursday's summit, amid domestic concerns over Canada and South America deals. But his colleagues are likely to avoid a lengthy debate.

EU gives thumbs up to US data pact

Commission gives 'thumbs-up' to controversial Privacy Shield deal with US on data sharing after a year's operation - but notes room for improvement.

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  2. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving up to 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  3. European Jewish CongressEJC Applauds the Bulgarian Government for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  4. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  5. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  8. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  9. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  10. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  11. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  12. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People