Prague Daily Monitor, 27 June 2017
Brussels, June 27 (CTK correspondent) – Development aid should not be calculated in the 2 percent of GDP that NATO member states are to spend on defence in the years to come, Czech General Petr Pavel, chairman of the NATO Military Committee, told CTK today.
The allied countries repeated the commitment to raise their defence expenditure to 2 percent of GDP by 2024 at a summit in Brussels recently, in reaction to the calls by U.S. President Donald Trump. They agreed on this share at the NATO summit in Wales in 2014.
Nevertheless, Germany as well as the European Commission’s (EC) representatives argue that development aid, which helps stabilise crisis regions, should be included in defence spending. The EU ranks among the most generous providers of such aid in the world.
“I must clearly state that the commitment of 2 percent concerns defence spending. Development activities within other ministries are not part of this,” Pavel said.
He admitted that the means released to such aid contribute to stabilisation and defence.
However, he said he did not think there was a suitable time to launch a debate about whether these means should be calculated into the 2 percent of GDP for defence or not.
It is important how many units, how much military equipment and soldiers’ new skills would be really secured from the money and it must be watched how much the member states contribute to NATO activities, in particular, how they participate in NATO operations, trainings and other initiatives, Pavel said.
These criteria will give an overall picture of the NATO member states’ particular contribution, he added.
The agreed 2 percent are just a basic input that will have full importance only when it turns into better capabilities and a better participation of European countries in NATO operations.
The European countries’ heads of state and government confirmed at a summit in Brussels in the spring that the countries would work out plans by the end of the year describing how to achieve the 2 percent spent on defence in 2024.
Only a few NATO member states have earmarked this share for defence so far.
“I think we will learn more after the talks of defence ministers on Thursday,” Pavel said.
At this meeting, the ministers and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg are supposed to indicate what would be done with the plans.
Pavel said the ministers should also agree on regular reviews of the plans and their possible modifications.