19:52 GMT29 July 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) should not only increase military spendings but also earmark funds to address unconventional modern-day challenges, such as hybrid threats, Eva Kaili, the chair of the EU Parliament's delegation for relations with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, told Sputnik on Friday.

    "It is… wise to have a proportionate increase in the capabilities of the involved parties. Moreover, there is a necessity to invest in new forms of defense that will address unconventional threats that could use migration as a form of pressure, or like hybrid, or other digitally enabled threats that could destabilize political systems and states," Kaili said, asked if the increase in defense spending by NATO allies was necessary.

    If EU member states refused to raise their defense budget, the United States could reorient its defense policies toward them, the lawmaker suggested.

    "However, having said that, I believe that the EU Member States will not refuse to start increasing their defense spending, which is a legitimate request, especially if you consider the fact that Greece, despite the economic hardships, has always respected that unofficial rule," Kaili pointed out.

    NATO members have been discussing defense spending for years, with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and his predecessor Anders Fogh Rasmussen attempting to make all the allies meet the target of allocating 2 percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for defense, the lawmaker recalled. These discussions further intensified after US President Donald Trump took office in early 2017, Kaili added.

    The parliamentarian noted the importance of NATO member states reaching the 2 percent target, especially in light of the US leadership’s growing reluctance to negotiate and compromise.

    READ MORE: 'Anti-NATO' Summit to Convene in Brussels on July 8 — Organizer

    The issue of defense spending has been one of the cornerstones in the relationship between the United States and its European allies. Trump has repeatedly criticized EU states over their failure to meet the defense spending target.

    On one such occasion, during his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in March 2017, Trump said Germany owed "vast sums of money" to the United States for the defense Washington had provided it within the NATO framework.

    READ MORE: 'World's Piggy Bank': Trump's NATO Rhetoric 'Is Not Something New' — Analyst

    In May, Stoltenberg said NATO expected eight of its member states to meet the target this year, stressing that according to NATO statistics, issued in March, only Estonia, Greece, the United Kingdom, and the United States met the 2 percent target in 2017.

    During the summit in Wales in 2014, NATO member states that did not meet the 2 percent goal pledged to do so within a decade.


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