Ilves in Washington: NATO members spending less on defense have no cause to complain (6)
Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said at a conference in Washington that NATO members spending less than 2 percent of GDP on defense have no reason to complain about NATO.
Ilves said on Sunday that if the United States' primary concern about NATO today is its unwillingness to spend money on defense, then the member states who are not spending 1 percent or less of their GDP on defense, should not blame the organization for not doing enough.
“The only people in Europe today with a right to whine and complain are the Estonians. We are the only ones left who spend 2 percent,” he said.
Ilves also reaffirmed his call for permanent NATO troops in the so-called new NATO members, including Estonia.
According to recent calculation by the BBC, the UK and Estonia were the only two European NATO members which spent at least 2 percent on defense last year. The figure for the UK will fall to 1.88 percent according to estimates.
Poland spends around 1.9 percent, Germany 1.1 percent, France 1.5 percent, Lithuania is increasing its spending from just 0.78 in 2014 to 1.11 percent this year, while Latvia will increase its spending from 0.9 to 1 percent of GDP. The US spends around 3.5 percent of its GDP on defense.
Ilves has recently stepped up calls for improved defense of Estonia and the Baltic states, with several Estonian politicians and commentators criticizing his tone as too intense.