FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Germany must increase military spending and take on a greater share of military burdens within NATO, the conservative candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor said in a newspaper interview on Sunday.
Heads of state within the 30-nation North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will meet in Brussels on Monday and discuss the path to follow against challenges such as China, Russia and cyber threats.
Laschet, backed by Merkel’s conservatives to run for chancellor at the Sept. 26 election, said he would ensure that Germany, Europe’s largest economy, meets the alliance’s spending target of 2% of gross domestic product.
“When we have agreed something internationally, we should stick to it”, he told Welt am Sonntag (WamS).
He said the Bundeswehr, the federal armed forces, should take on more responsibility in Africa, around the Mediterranean and in Mali.
“We can always talk about us taking a higher share of the burdens,” he said referring to Mali, where the Bundeswehr participates in a European Union training mission and in a United Nations peacekeeping mission.
French president Emmanuel Macron on Thursday said that France’s operation battling Islamist militants in the Sahel region, of which Mali is a part, would come to an end with troops now operating as part of broader international efforts in the region.
A German poll on Sunday showed the conservative party block of Christian Democrats and their Bavarian sister party CSU, at 27%, well ahead of the Greens at 20%.
Separately, the Green Party at a party conference that ended on Sunday softened up a previously categoric stance against the use of armed drones by the Bundeswehr after a tight vote of 347 versus 343 on the motion.
But the Greens reject the two percent NATO target as they deem it costly and arbitrary.
(Reporting by Vera Eckert in Frankfurt and Holger Hansen in Berlin, editing by William Maclean)