Martin Schulz is set to defy President Trump
The candidate for the Social Democrats (SPD) said he will not cave to President Trump’s threat of the US scaling back its commitment to Transatlantic protection as he bids to replace Angela Merkel.
Mr Schulz, the ex-president of the European Parliament, said he would resist the ultimatum, saying “German social democracy has always put an emphasis on disarmament”.
He added: “I don’t take the view it was agreed among NATO members that we have to reach this goal of spending two per cent of our GDP on armament
Martin Schulz is making a bid to replace Angela Merkel
German social democracy has always put an emphasis on disarmament
“If I interpret this correctly, it was just said that one can aim for it.
“To spend an additional €20billion (£17.05bn) on defence is certainly not the goal a government led by me would pursue.”
Mr Schulz, a staunch supporter of the European Union, raised suspicions the bloc could be once again trying to form its own EU Army and defence network between member states.
His comments come after his rival Chancellor Angela Merkel told US Vice President Mike Pence “we will do everything we can in order to fulfil this commitment”.
Merkel meets Trump at the White House
Fri, March 17, 2017
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
U.S. President Donald Trump has welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House in Washington DC
1 of 18
U.S. President Trump and German Chancellor Merkel hold a joint news conference in Washington
Merkel told Mike Pence “we will do everything we can in order to fulfil this commitment”
Germany is under pressure from Donald Trump to pay its fair share as, according to NATO statistics, it only spends 1.2 per cent of GDP on defence – considerably less than the two per cent mutually agreed by the alliance’s member states.
But Mr Schulz said he would not bow to pressure by entering an “arms race” if he became leader of Germany, according to Politico.
Trump has threatened to cut ties with NATO
He said: "What we need isn’t an arms race, it’s initiatives for disarmament, as described by SPD Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.
“We primarily need more investment in preventive measures.
“German social democracy has always put an emphasis on disarmament. This is what you can expect from Chancellor Schulz.”