MUNICH: Germany’s defense minister pledged to spend more on its military and the United Nations, but she called in return for other countries not to turn away from mulitlateralism.
Ursula von der Leyen’s remarks came days after US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis reiterated President Donald Trump’s demand that European countries spend more on their militaries.
In a speech on Friday to the Munich Security Conference, von der Leyen said Germany was prepared to play a bigger international role, by increasing its military spending and its contributions to the United Nations. But she urged the United States to stick to a multilateral path. “We are concerned when we see that some partners keep cutting funds for diplomacy, development cooperation and the United Nations,” she said. The US State Department has been subject to deep cuts under Trump’s presidency.
Von der Leyen said Germany wanted to work with France on deeper European cooperation and called on “all Europeans” to participate.
France’ defence minister Florence Parly called with her German counterpart for a "strategic autonomy" to respond to security threats, even while bolstering commitments to the NATO pact. ”When we are threatened in our own neighbourhood, particularly to the south, we have to be able to respond, even when the United States or the (NATO) alliance would like to be less implicated," French defence chief Florence Parly said. "To achieve that, we need strategic autonomy," Parly told the Munich Security Conference.
“Europe has to up its pace in the face of global challenges from terrorism, poverty and climate change,” she said. “Those who want to must be able to advance without being blocked by individual countries.”
The newly assertive posture, coming amid growing tensions with Russia and Turkey and uncertainty over the future role of a Trump-led US in the international order, reflects a growing sense in Berlin that Germany has to accept more of a leadership role.