BRUSSELS – U.S. President Donald Trump was so forceful in his verbal lashing of NATO allies over their defence spending levels that reports began circulating during the two-day summit that he might even pull the U.S. out of the 69-year-old alliance. Several leaders, however, gave a more nuanced picture — or flat-out denied the reports.
There is still no complete picture of what Trump said exactly, but here are some comments NATO leaders made after an emergency NATO meeting Thursday devoted to defence spending:
U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
“I told people that I’d be very unhappy if they didn’t up their commitments very substantially because the United States has been paying a tremendous amount …”
“Yesterday I let them know that I was extremely unhappy with what was happening and they have substantially upped their commitment. And now we’re very happy and we have a very, very powerful, a very, very strong NATO, much stronger than it was two days ago.”
GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL
“I made clear that we know that we have to do more and that we have been doing so for quite a while. That turning point has long been initiated. … We have realized this since the attack on Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. Further challenges, like we see them in Syria and Iraq with IS and other terrorist threats, have been added.”
“The American president has demanded, what has been discussed for months, that the burden-sharing has to change. And we made clear, well, I made clear for myself and others also made it clear, that we are on this path, which is in our own interest and can make us overall stronger.
“I can only sum up what’s the result: a clear commitment to NATO by all and also a clear willingness by all to provide a contribution on their own in the face of a changed security situation.”
FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON
“President Trump never, at any moment, either in public or in private, threatened to withdraw from NATO.”
“President Trump is the leader of a great country. So he does what we all do. When we draw up a communique, we generally read it, we negotiate, and then we support it. So he knows what he’s signed up to.”
“It confirms the goal of 2 per cent by 2024. That’s all.”
ROMANIAN PRESIDENT KLAUS IOHANNIS
“There is no danger (of NATO breaking up), there isn’t a conflict.”
“Trump said things plainly, as it normal between friends and allies. We committed ourselves to spending a bit more.”