NATO defence ministers discussed further action of the Alliance in the struggle against terrorism. They also held talks on cyber defence, NATO funding and support for Georgia.
Better allocation of NATO costs
Europe and Germany should shoulder more responsibility. That had been clear even before the U.S. presidential election, said Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen. "We have to do more to be able to establish security for our Europe," added the Minister. After reunification, Germany had long profited from its secure surroundings, but the security situation is different now, she said.
Germany and NATO must perform a growing number of tasks, she pointed out. Many German men and women soldiers are fighting terrorism, protecting eastern borders of the Alliance and are serving in Afghanistan, Mali, Iraq and in the Mediterranean region. "If the Bundeswehr carries out all these missions so that it can guarantee our security, then we also need to invest in the Bundeswehr," said the Minister. That means an increased budget.
Germany steps up cooperation
On the side lines of the meeting, von der Leyen signed several cooperation agreements. Among others, Germany and France agreed to establish an air transport squadron including aircraft of the Hercules C-130J type.
Cooperation was agreed with the Netherlands on use of Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) tanker aircraft. Moreover, the Bundeswehr is to play a greater role as "anchor army" for smaller states. Agreement was reached with the Czech Republic and Romania that these states would more closely align various units and formations with Bundeswehr divisions.
Germany and Norway have agreed on a comprehensive strategic partnership in collaboration between their naval forces. As a result, they are to jointly develop and procure submarines and anti-ship missiles for use by the navies of both countries.
Strong transatlantic bond
"NATO is founded on the bond between North America and Europe, and in good times and bad, that bond has been unbreakable. We stand together. We defend each other", NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, adding that he was confident that Defence Ministers at their meeting tomorrow and the day after tomorrow once again would reconfirm this transatlantic bond.
U.S. Defence Minister James Mattis stated that the Alliance was a "fundamental bedrock for the United States and for all the transatlantic community". However, he also warned that the Europeans needed to show greater effort, including in NATO financing.