Clear commitment to the two-per cent target
They also discussed the fight against IS, stabilising Afghanistan and the NATO leaders’ meeting on 25 May.
As Chancellor Angela Merkel and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated after their talks on Thursday at the Federal Chancellery, a number of important issues will be on the agenda when NATO leaders meet on 25 May in Brussels. They include Euro-Atlantic security, the changing security environment in the East and the challenges posed by international terrorism.
NATO supports the fight against IS
NATO is already supporting the anti-IS coalition on a limited scale with AWACS (Airborne Early Warning and Control System) surveillance aircraft. One issue on the table at the Brussels meeting will be the possible scaling up of this mission. As Jens Stoltenberg stressed, the only options being discussed are support services, like AWACS reconnaissance or training projects as in Iraq. The deployment of combat troops is not an option.
Chancellor Angela Merkel stated unequivocally, "Even if at the end of the discussion process a decision is made, that will not mean that any military activity that Germany is currently performing, like AWACS surveillance, will be extended."
Signal of unity - stability in Afghanistan
Chancellor Angela Merkel and Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expect the leaders’ meeting on 25 May to send a signal of unity that will underscore the unchanged importance of NATO. Regarding the suggestion that NATO’s contingent in Afghanistan might be increased, Jens Stoltenberg pointed to the recommendations of NATO military leaders that the numbers deployed to the training and support mission be raised.
The possibility of increasing the German contingent in the north of the country is not currently on the agenda, confirmed the Chancellor. The German government has no concrete plans to send more German troops to Afghanistan. "Rather what we must do is ensure that resilience and stability in the north are retained, and that it becomes a predictable operation," said Angela Merkel.
Clear commitment to the two-per cent target agreed in Wales
Following on from the resolutions adopted at the summits in Cardiff in 2014 and in Warsaw in 2016, the question of more equitable burden sharing will be discussed in Brussels. "The German government supported the Cardiff resolution. We now intend to stick to this resolution and work towards the target," underscored the Chancellor with respect to the undertaking to raise defence spending to the equivalent of two per cent of GDP (gross domestic product).
"I am delighted that the NATO Secretary General sees on the one hand the financial contributions for defence, when he looks at the contributions made by individual member states – and Germany’s grand coalition government has significantly increased defence spending. He also sees, however, what each country contributes within the framework of individual NATO missions, which inputs are contributed by which member state, and what capacities we offer," continued Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Underlining Germany’s commitment
Jens Stoltenberg praised Germany’s extensive NATO activities. "You contribute to NATO operations in many different ways, from Afghanistan to Kosovo to the Aegean Sea. Over the last few months, Germany has taken the leadership over one of our battle groups in the Baltic region. This is yet another example of how NATO welcomes the contributions of Germany to our alliance. And you are providing troops for our quick reaction forces," declared NATO’s Secretary General.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s comments on the Bundeswehr
At the press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Chancellor Angela Merkel also commented on the Bundeswehr. She reiterated that there are no plans to reintroduce military service. And she stated that recent allegations illustrate that reforms are needed within the Bundeswehr. "I believe that the fundamental decision (regarding military service) has been made. Following on from this decision we should now undertake the necessary reforms as proposed yesterday by the Federal Minister of Defence. The Bundeswehr needs continuity in its development so that the excellent service provided by the vast majority of our troops can be continued on a predictable basis."