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German coalition partners quarrel over NATO defense spending goal
Last Updated: 2017-08-11 16:34 | Xinhua
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A proposal by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) to raise German defense spending was rejected by Thomas Opperman, the Social Democrat Party's (SPD) parliamentary faction leader, on Thursday.

Speaking to the newspaper Rheinische Post, Opperman ruled out nearly doubling German defense spending to 2 percent of annual GDP. "We consider this to be the wrong way forward and with the SPD in government (after national elections in September) it will not come to pass," he said.

While Opperman did not deny that Germany's Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) were in need of investment, he wanted to make funds available in line with the army's actual needs rather than what he described as an arbitrary spending goal set by NATO.

"Defense spending will rise, but it must not follow the irrelevant logic of a quota but the logic of a comprehensive security strategy," Opperman said.

In 2014, members of the NATO had pledged to meet the military alliance's uniform spending goal of 2 percent of GDP within a decade.

The United States currently devotes 3.6 percent of GDP to military spending, well ahead of most European nations for which the figure is below 2 percent. Since taking office, U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized NATO partners, including Germany, for not pulling their weight.

Military spending currently accounts for 1.26 percent of GDP in Germany. Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) recently called for her country to act in order to meet the NATO target more swiftly.

Opperman announced the publication of an SPD defense strategy paper on Thursday. According to the Rheinische Post which has seen a draft thereof, the SPD wants to give the Federal Parliament (Bundestag) a bigger role in governing the German Armed Forces.

The SPD also proposes to establish of a European Defense Union.

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