EU chief reminds Trump who is whom in Europe

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European Council President Donald Tusk tells US President Donald Trump to stop berating NATO allies over military investment levels, on the eve of an alliance summit.

European Council President Donald Tusk (L), NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (C) and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (R) sign a new joint declaration on EU-NATO cooperation in Brussels, Belgium, July 10, 2018.
European Council President Donald Tusk (L), NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (C) and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (R) sign a new joint declaration on EU-NATO cooperation in Brussels, Belgium, July 10, 2018. (Reuters)

European Council President Donald Tusk is suggesting US President Donald Trump remember who his allies are as Trump prepares to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Before taking off for Brussels, Trump again chided fellow NATO members for not contributing enough to the alliance while maintaining a trade surplus with the United States, his latest reprimand on issues that are straining transatlantic relations.

Speaking as he signed a joint EU-NATO declaration on Tuesday with alliance Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Tusk said in a message to Trump that “it is always worth knowing who is your strategic friend and who is your strategic problem.”

“Dear America, appreciate your allies, after all you don’t have that many,” Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, said after a signing statement on co-operation between the EU and the NATO.

“Today, Europeans (collectively) spend on defence many times more than Russia, and as much as China.” He said that money went towards both US and European security when the United States regards Russia and China as threats.

Donald Tusk

@eucopresident

Dear @realDonaldTrump. US doesn’t have and won’t have a better ally than EU. We spend on defense much more than Russia and as much as China. I hope you have no doubt this is an investment in our security, which cannot be said with confidence about Russian & Chinese spending 🙂

Tusk also urged the Europeans to increase spending as they had promised.

Many US presidents have urged European governments to spend more on their militaries. But Trump has intensified the demands to such an extent that allies worry it could damage NATO morale and play into the hands of Putin, whom they accuse of trying to divide and destabilise the West.

Trump meets Putin on July 16.

TRT World’s Sarah Morice has more.

Dispute on defence spending

Trump’s tweet on Tuesday echoed earlier posts on Twitter on Monday and his criticism at a rally of supporters in the United States last week, in which he said that Washington was unfairly carrying almost all the cost of defending Europe.

“Getting ready to leave for Europe. First meeting – NATO. The US is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them. Not fair to the US taxpayer,” Trump said.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Getting ready to leave for Europe. First meeting – NATO. The U.S. is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them. Not fair to the U.S. taxpayer. On top of that we lose $151 Billion on Trade with the European Union. Charge us big Tariffs (& Barriers)!

European officials say while US defence spending makes up 70 percent of combined allied governments’ military budgets, and just 15 percent of US expenditure is spent in Europe on NATO-related defence. Washington pays about 22 percent of the running cost of NATO, including the headquarters and commonly funded equipment such as AWACS surveillance planes.

“On top of that we lose $151 Billion on Trade with the European Union. Charge us big Tariffs (& Barriers)!” Trump also said in the same tweet.

EU and US government data put the US trade deficit with the EU at around $100 billion, including services such as finance, where the United States has a surplus. EU officials also say most tariffs on US goods are already low to zero.

Source: AP