On the eve of the NATO summit in Brussels, EU President Donald Tusk advised President Trump to be more appreciative of allies because the United States doesn’t “have that many.”
Trump has been berating the alliance in the run-up to the meeting, both in speeches and on Twitter. “NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS. Very Unfair!” he tweeted today.
“Many countries in NATO, which we are expected to defend, are not only short of their current commitment of 2% (which is low), but are also delinquent for many years in payments that have not been made. Will they reimburse the U.S.?” he also tweeted.
At the 2014 NATO summit, member states agreed to meet a two percent GDP defense spending pledge by 2024. NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison said last week that currently 16 of 29 countries are on track to meet that goal.
“It’s going to be an interesting time in the UK, and it’s certainly going to be an interesting time with NATO,” Trump told reporters at the White House today before leaving for Brussels. “NATO has not treated us fairly, but I think we’ll work something out. We pay far too much, and they pay far too little, but we will work it out, and all countries will be happy.”
“So I have NATO, I have the UK, which is in somewhat turmoil, and I have Putin,” he added. “Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think? Who would think?”
Asked if the Russian president is a friend or foe, Trump replied, “I really can’t say right now. As far as I’m concerned, a competitor — a competitor.”
Commenting today on a newly signed joint EU-NATO declaration “to protect European citizens with all possible means available,” Tusk said the details of the agreement include “improving the military mobility of troops and equipment, common preparedness for cyber and hybrid attacks, fighting terrorism and stopping migrant smugglers in the Mediterranean.”
“The fullest possible involvement in our activities of EU Member States that are not NATO members will be encouraged and facilitated in an all-inclusive, non-discriminatory manner, without any artificial obstacles,” he added.
The EU president then directly addressed Trump, “who for a long time now has been criticizing Europe almost daily for, in his view, insufficient contributions to the common defense capabilities, and for living off the US.”
“Dear President Trump: America does not have, and will not have a better ally than Europe. Today Europeans spend on defense many times more than Russia, and as much as China. And I think you can have no doubt, Mr President, that this is an investment in common American and European defense and security. Which can’t be said with confidence about Russian or Chinese spending,” Tusk said. “I would therefore have two remarks here. First of all, dear America, appreciate your allies; after all, you don’t have that many. And, dear Europe, spend more on your defense, because everyone respects an ally that is well-prepared and equipped.”
The EU leader noted that “money is important, but genuine solidarity is even more important.”
“Speaking about solidarity, I want to dispel the American president’s argument, which says that the U.S. alone protects Europe against our enemies, and that the U.S. is almost alone in this struggle,” Tusk continued. “Europe was first to respond on a large scale when the U.S. was attacked, and called for solidarity after 9/11. European soldiers have been fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with American soldiers in Afghanistan. Eight hundred and seventy brave European men and women sacrificed their lives, including 40 soldiers from my homeland Poland.”
“Dear Mr President, please remember about this tomorrow, when we meet at the NATO summit, but above all when you meet President Putin in Helsinki. It is always worth knowing: who is your strategic friend? And who is your strategic problem?”