Germany Needs Greater Military Involvement Abroad, Defense Chief AKK Declares
Germany would reach the 2% of GDP defense spending threshold by 2031, instead of 2024, she projects.
Germany should be deploying its military proactively abroad, instead of “staying on the sidelines”, according to the country’s Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who is also Merkel’s successor as head of the ruling conservatives CDU.
In a speech delivered at the University of the Bundeswehr (the German military) in Munich on Thursday, Kramp-Karrenbauer has issued another call contrary to Germany’s traditional post-Cold War policy of abstaining from large-scale military participation abroad.
AKK emphasized that Germany’s allies are increasingly asking the country to play a proactive role in global security.
“A country of our size, with our economic and technological power, our geostrategic position and global interests, cannot just stand on the sidelines and watch,” she said.
“Germany must participate in international debates and drive them forward,” the German Defense Minister argued, as cited by DW.
She pointed out that the country benefited tremendously from the rules-based international order, and should therefore contribute towards guaranteeing its success.
Kramp-Karrenbauer also pledged that Germany’s military spending would reach 2% of its GDP by 2031, a level which was supposed to be reached in 2024 under the country’s present commitments to NATO.
In her words, however, for the time being, Europe’s largest economy would try to reach a defense spending of 1.5% of GDP by 2024.
Germany and other Western European countries has been criticized, especially by the United States and President Donald Trump, for their modest defense spending.
When the country finally reaches the 2% target that would likely make it the third largest defense spender in the world, after the United States and China.
“[Germany must] openly deal with the fact that we, like every other country in the world, have our own strategic interests,” Kramp-Karrenbauer told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily earlier in an interview.
She also announced plans to set up a national security council precisely in recognition of the need to defend Germany’s strategic interests.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, from the CDU’s coalition partner, the leftist SPD party, was quick to cast doubts over AKK’s call for a militarily more assertive Germany.
“Above all, we must define our responsibility on a European basis,” Maas told public broadcaster ZDF.
“That means that we don’t just take care of our own issues alone, but rather that we as part of Europe play a leading role in competition between superpowers.”
Kramp-Karrenbauer and Maas already clashed recently over the former’s call for establishing an international security zone in Syria.
AKK succeeded Chancellor Angela Merkel as leader of the ruling conservative CDU party nearly a year ago.
Her new call for boosting Germany’s military role came shortly before the arrival in the country of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the upcoming 30th anniversary since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
(Banner image: AKK on Twitter)