NATO Chairman Follows Trump's Steps, Calls For Increase in Defense Spending

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and US President Donald Trump at the White House in April, 2017. (AFP)



Jens Stoltenberg wants to increase NATO's funding for the core activities in the areas of conflict and near-conflict around the globe. NATO will also make more steps to tighten bonds with Australia.



Today, the defence ministers of the member states will first discuss reform of the alliance. Mr. Stoltenberg revealed he would submit concrete proposals to a summit of heads of state and government later this year.

Secretary Stoltenberg wants to "increase NATO's funding for our core activities in the areas of deterrence and defense". He pointed out that so far the member states that have participated in operations have had to finance them. Mr. Stoltenberg suggested that the costs for ongoing operations should be paid for from the NATO budget, which would therefore have to be significantly larger.

According to Stoltenberg, such strategy could also lead to better burden-sharing in the Alliance, which was a constant issue with the United States under President Donald Trump. Secretary-General informed that this year nine of the thirty NATO countries will meet the alliance's defense spending target of two percent of economic output - one less than last year. But Germany, the most powerful economy in the EU will continue to lag with spending of 1.55 per cent of its GDP.



NATO to tighten bonds with Australia

Secretary-General also wants to propose, that NATO should be used more as a forum for transatlantic issues. Such forum would strengthen Australia's links to NATO. The Alliance has been engaged in dialogue and cooperation with Canberra since 2005. Until 2012, it was rather a cursory relations that included exchange between experts and help in foreign in the anti-terror missions including Syria and Afghanistan. But increasing threat of Communist China's attack in the region prompted Canberra to develop closer relations.



NATO members' national flags at half-mast to honour Holocaust victims on the Holocaust Remembrance Day. "Today is a powerful reminder that we must stand up for our shared values – freedom, democracy, and human dignity", stated Secretary-General. (AFP)

 

Australia and NATO also work together to strengthen maritime security. Australia is a potential operational partner for NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian. The Australian navy also cooperated with NATO to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia as part of the past operation Ocean Shield. But the main goal of joined maritime missions is deterrence of Chinese aggression that is concerning for the Alliance. Since November Russian airforce has been more active with Beijing's army in intimidation of US Allies in the Pacific.

It could also include economic issues or technology issues, he said. He also suggested that not only the foreign and defense ministers meet regularly, but also the national security advisors of the member states.

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