Defense minister to German media: Europe should not fear Germany rearming
Estonia's Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur in an interview with German weekly "Der Spiegel" renews his demand for Germany to spend more on its military in order to fullfill its duty within NATO. The minister also rejects the fear at times communicated in German public debate that European neighbors might be suspiscious of a heavily armed Germany.
Hanno Pevkur emphasized the necessity of higher military budgets among NATO members. In an interview with the German weekly-magazine "Der Spiegel" from March 22, the defense minister recalled that Estonia is already spending 2.8 percent (about €700 million) of it gross domestic product (GDP) on its military and is going to increase its military budget to 3.5 percent in 2024. He suggested that every member state should spend at least 2.5 percent of its GDP to catch up with the necessities of the Russian invasion in Ukraine. In Pevkur's opinion the rise of military budgets above the 2-percent goal agreed in 2014 should balance the reluctant military budgets of some NATO member states during the recent decades.
Germany for example plans to spend about €50 billion on its military in 2023, which comes to roughly 1.6 percent of its GDP – despite its so called "Sondervermögen" of €100 billion for the upcoming couple of years. Other countries like Canada, Czech Republic, Italy or Spain are spending even less in regard to their GDP.
Spiegel confronted the 45-year-old minister with the often addressed fear in German public debate according to which European states – especially [Germany's] World War II opponents like France, Poland and the U.K. – might be suspiscious about a heavily armed Germany in the middle of Europe. Pevkur rejected that fear: "Why should we be afraid? Germany is an ally. Poland buys hundreds of tanks, airplanes and other stuff as well. But we are not afraid of Poland and we are not afraid of Germany either." Instead he emphasized that stronger member states strengthen NATO itself.
At the same time, Pevkur emphasized Germany's leading role regarding the European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI). Since August 2022, Germany encouraged 17 NATO members (including Estonia) to join forces to organize a common air defense based on common weaponry and joint purchase of German, U.S. and Israeli rocket-radar-systems.
Hanno Pevkur gave his interview to Der Spiegel after the decision of several European Union member states to jointly buy artillery for Ukraine, which was initially an Estonian proposal.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski