(corrects spelling of Tallinn)
TALLIN, March 1 German Foreign Minister Sigmar
Gabriel told reporters in Estonia on Wednesday that NATO had not
agreed on every nation in the alliance having to meet a rigid
target of spending 2 percent of its gross domestic product on
"I have a concern that politicians make public promises that
they can't fulfil later on," Gabriel said. He said that NATO had
merely agreed that member nations would make efforts to reach
the 2 percent target.
"There is no apodictic 2 percent goal but rather...we should
be moving in that direction," he said at the start of a visit to
Baltic states. Germany now spends 1.2 percent of GDP on defence.
At a NATO summit in Wales in 2014, allies agreed to end
years of defense cuts that left Europeans without vital
capabilities. They agreed all allies should reach the target of
spending 2 percent of economic output on defense every year by
2024, although the goal is not legally binding.
The issue has become a source of tension between Chancellor
Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and Gabriel's Social
Democrats, junior partners in the ruling coalition government,
who are hoping to unseat Merkel in September national elections.
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, a conservative, has
criticised Gabriel for his remarks at the Munich Security
Conference, where he warned against focusing solely on defence
spending and unleashing a new arms race.
Merkel has said Germany needed to fulfill its commitment to
boost defence spending to meet NATO's target of 2 percent.
Germany has come under increased pressure since the election
of U.S. President Donald Trump to meet NATO's defence spending
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold; writing by Erik Kirschbaum;
editing by Michael Nienaber)