Thursday 19 October 2017

Donald Trump printed out made-up €346bn Nato invoice and handed it to Angela Merkel

President estimated Germany’s underspend on alliance over the past 12 years, then added interest

President Donald Trump meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Oval Office of the White House Photo: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
President Donald Trump meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Oval Office of the White House Photo: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Rebecca Flood

Angela Merkel will reportedly ignore Donald Trump’s attempts to extricate €346bn from Germany for what he deems to be owed contributions to Nato.

The US President is said to have had an “invoice” printed out outlining the sum estimated by his aides as covering Germany’s unpaid contributions for defence.

Said to be presented during private talks in Washington, the move has been met with criticism from German and Nato officials.

While the figure presented to the Germans was not revealed by either side, Nato countries pledged in 2014 to spend two per cent of their GDP on defence, something only a handful of nations – including the UK, Greece, Poland and Estonia – currently do.

But the bill has been backdated even further to 2002, the year Mrs Merkel’s predecessor, Gerhard Schröder, pledged to spend more on defence.

Mr Trump reportedly instructed aides to calculate how much German spending fell below two per cent over the past 12 years, then added interest.

Estimates suggest the total came to €346bn, including interest that was added on. 

The Times quoted a German government minister as saying the move was “outrageous”.

The unnamed minister said: “The concept behind putting out such demands is to intimidate the other side, but the Chancellor took it calmly and will not respond to such provocations.”

And the paper quoted a source close to Mrs Merkel saying she has “ignored the provocation”.

The bill follows a disastrous meeting between the pair earlier this month, characterised by Mr Trump’s refusal to shake his peer’s hand.

A day after the meeting, Mr Trump tweeted: “Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with the Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“Nevertheless, Germany owes ... vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!”

In response to the claims, German defence minister Ursula Von der Leyen rejected the notion the European nation owed the US or Nato.

She issued a statement saying: “There is no debt account at Nato.

“Defence spending also goes into UN peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against [Isis] terrorism.”

Her comments were backed by Ivo Daalder, permanent representative to Nato from 2009 to 2013 under the Obama administration, who queried the President’s understanding of the organisation.

He tweeted: “Sorry Mr President, that’s not how Nato works. The US decides for itself how much it contributes to defending Nato.

“This is not a financial transaction, where Nato countries pay the US to defend them. It is part of our treaty commitment.”

Mr Trump has repeatedly voiced his criticism over member payments to Nato, throwing doubt on the future role of the US in the organisation.

He has singled out a number of Nato countries, including Germany, over their defence contributions claiming the US has been forced to bear the brunt and pick up the tab.

Independent News Service

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