MUNICH Feb 18 German Foreign Minister Sigmar
Gabriel on Saturday said it would be difficult for Germany to
add a required 25 billion euros to its defence budget to meet a
NATO military spending target if politicians were seeking to
lower taxes at the same time.
Gabriel, a Social Democrat, said Germany remained committed
to the NATO target, but said NATO members also needed to focus
on tackling the root causes of security threats, such as climate
change and poverty, and not focus solely on military spending.
He also questioned the wisdom of focusing solely on military
spending as a percentage of gross domestic product, noting that
Greece met NATO's target of spending two percent of economic
output on defence, but was having trouble paying its pensions.
Germany should also get credit, he said, for the 30-40
billion euros it was spending to integrate over a million
refugees displaced "as result of failed military interventions
of the past."
"We have to find 25 billion euros in a short time to meet
the NATO target," Gabriel said. "I have no idea where we can
find these ... billions of euros, at least not if we are also
signing ambitious tax reduction agreements at the same time."
"Let's hold onto the direction, but not launch happily into
a new arms race spiral because that alone will not guarantee our
security," he said.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by John Irish)