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    German Bundeswehr soldiers of the 122th Infantry Battalion take part in a farewell ceremony in Oberviechtach, Germany, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017

    Germany Should Exercise Its Interests Abroad More Forcefully, Defence Minister Says

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    CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has vowed to increase Germany’s military spending to 2% of gross domestic product, meeting the NATO goal, by 2031. She unveiled her plan to boost the defence budget, which the US has repeatedly demanded, just hours before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Germany.

    1. More Involvement Abroad

    2. Trade Dictates More Military Responsibilities

    3. NATO Target to Finally Be Met?

    German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who recently took over the post after Ursula von der Leyen left to assume the presidency of the European Commission, has warned of new challenges for Germany and insisted Berlin should play an “organising role” in global security and military cooperation.

    In her speech at the Bundeswehr University in Munich, the official, who headed the governing Christian Democratic Union last year, has voiced her wish to reform the security policy and set up a National Security Council. The new body is expected to coordinate diplomatic and military efforts, as well as economic, trade, and internal security cooperation.

    More Involvement Abroad

    She also insisted that it is time for Germany to pursue its interests more forcefully and assume greater responsibilities alongside its allies, in particular in their fight against terrorism, the German outlet Zeit reports. She paid special attention to common efforts with France, as well as stronger European defence cooperation, something that was named as one of the priorities for Germany’s presidency in the EU Council, which the country is set to assume in 2020.

    She noted that many states wanted "a clear sign of solidarity" from Germany.

    "A country of our size and our economic and technological power, a country of our geostrategic position and our global interests, cannot just stand by and watch", Kramp-Karrenbauer stated, as cited by Zeit, adding that Berlin must have the courage to accept the role of “the organising power", which will be "a win for all of us".

    Trade Dictates More Military Responsibilities

    She also stated that, as a trading nation, Germany has a special obligation to protect the international order, specifically free and peaceful sea routes.

    "We are the trading nation that lives on international reliability", she said, calling Germany a leader in international container shipping, alongside China.

    AKK, as the German media often refer to her, emphasised that being in "the middle of Europe, Germany relies "on safe borders and at the same time on powerful coexistence".

    "This is not available for free", Kramp-Karrenbauer added, noting that "others have spent most efforts required, namely the US", so far.

    NATO Target to Finally Be Met?

    She also repeated the call to significantly increase defence spending, boosting it to 2 percent of GDP, the NATO target, by 2031. For now, Berlin’s goal is 1.5% of GDP by 2024, which is below the alliance’s goal.

    Germany’s reluctance to meet the NATO target, as well as its habit to take a backseat in international military engagements due to the constitutional restrictions consequent of Berlin’s role in World War II, has repeatedly evoked criticism from other allies, namely the US. Notably, AKK’s programme speech, which included the spending pledge, came just hours ahead of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to the country.

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    Tags:
    military budget, NATO, defence, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Germany
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