In his morning tweets, President Donald Trump claimed Saturday that Germany owed “vast sums of money” to NATO. The tweet came after his Friday meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who flew out of the United States before the president’s tweets.
During the meeting, Trump and Merkel discussed issues ranging from NATO to trade and immigration. Although the president declared his support for the 28-nation military alliance, he said Germany and NATO allies must pay their “fair share” of costs toward it.
“I reiterated to Chancellor Merkel my strong support for NATO, as well as the need for our NATO allies to pay their fair share for the cost of defense. Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years, and it is very unfair to the United States. These nations must pay what they owe,” Trump said after the meeting.
However, in Saturday’s tweet, Trump said Germany was among the nations that owed money to NATO. He also said Berlin must pay Washington for “the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides” to the country.
Authorities in Germany have not yet responded to Trump’s claims. However, two former U.S. ambassadors to NATO — Doug Lute and Ivo Daalder — pointed out that the president’s statements are misleading.
"There is no ledger sheet that shows Germany in the red," Lute, who was U.S. representative to NATO under former President Barack Obama from 2013 to 2017, told ABC News. "That's not how it works in NATO."
Similarly, Daalder — who was U.S. envoy to NATO from 2009 to 2013 — noted in a series of tweets that all NATO nations, including Germany, have committed to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product until 2024 on the alliance. He also said that the European country is on track with this defense spending, and that no money was meant to be paid to the U.S.
“Trump’s comments misrepresent the way NATO functions,” Daalder told the Washington Post. “The President keeps saying that we need to be paid by the Europeans for the fact that we have troops in Europe or provide defense there. But that’s not how it works.”
The bloc’s budget of about $2 billion is paid by fixed allocation throughout the 28 member nations, ABC News noted. Washington contributes the most with 22.14 percent of that amount every year, followed by Berlin with 14.65 percent.