German Defense Minister Von der Leyen while defending NATO and the transatlantic relationship on Wednesday, has sought for clarification from the incoming US Trump Administration regarding its policy towards Europe.
Questions on transatlantic relations abound as Donald Trump prepares to take over the White House. "We're fighting for something, not against something," Germany's defense minister said during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
"We're fighting for democracy, for rule of law, for human rights." The defense minister was quoted as saying by Deutsche Welle German Radio Thursday.
In an interview with German broadcaster NTV, von der Leyen, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), delivered a message to Trump's team. "We want the Americans to be clear, 'What is your agenda,'" she said. "The most important thing...is reliability." She added.
Last weekend, Trump said in an interview that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, was "obsolete" - even as the intergovernmental military alliance remains one of the pillars of post-World War II transatlantic relations.
von der Leyen during her interview with NTV has announced that Germany is raising its military budget by almost 2 billion euros ($2.1 billion) in 2017 to 37 billion euros. That sum is equal to 1.22 percent of German gross domestic product.
The total is expected to reach over 39 billion euros by 2020. "We're moving in the right direction, but we can't do it in one year," she said.
This isn't the first time the defense minister has addressed concerns over Trump's attitude toward NATO.
In November, shortly after the New York real estate mogul's victory in the presidential elections, von der Leyen said Trump needed to understand what NATO was - and what it wasn't.
"What his advisors will hopefully tell him and what he needs to learn is that NATO isn't just a business. It's not a company," she said in an interview with broadcaster ZDF. "I don't know how he values NATO." She added.
Trump said throughout the campaign that NATO members weren't contributing enough financially to the military organization. The US pays just over 22 percent of the cost of its spending. Germany pays over 14 percent of NATO spending.
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