© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk in Parliament, in Warsaw, Poland December 12, 2023. REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel/File Photo
By Alan Charlish, Sarah Marsh and John Irish
BERLIN/PARIS (Reuters) -German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Monday that any relativization of NATO’s mutual defence clause was “dangerous” and only served Russia, following comments by former U.S. President Donald Trump questioning the alliance’s key provision.
Trump, who is seeking reelection, sparked outrage among Western partners during the weekend after suggesting the United States might not protect NATO allies who are not spending enough on defence from a potential Russian invasion.
“Any relativisation of NATO’s guarantee of assistance is irresponsible and dangerous,” Scholz told reporters during a joint news conference with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. “It is solely in Russia’s interests. Nobody should play around or trade with Europe’s security.”
Tusk traveled to Paris and then Berlin seeking closer ties with Europe’s two largest powers as the war in Ukraine enters its third year and Europe’s capitals eye the possibility of Donald Trump returning to the White House.
There is no alternative to the partnership between Europe, NATO and the United States for facing mounting security risks, he said earlier on Monday in a joint statement with French President Emmanuel Macron.
“It is probably here in Paris that the words from ‘The Three Musketeers’ by Alexandre Dumas resonate most clearly: ‘All for one, and one for all’,” he said, referring to Dumas’ novel.
Still, it is in the interest of all NATO countries to increase funding for joint military capabilities, regardless of what Trump said, Tusk told reporters in Berlin.
“There is no reason for the EU to be weaker than Russia” he said, adding that Europe should achieve “greater air defence capabilities and ammunition production capabilities” within a year or so.
Germany will reach the NATO target of spending 2% of economic output on defence this year – and will continue to reach it in the following years, Scholz said.
Warsaw, Paris and Berlin see EU unity on defence and a ramping up of the 27 member states’ support for Ukraine as crucial at a time when U.S. backing of Kyiv is wavering amid political infighting in Washington.
“Europe has to get its act together… This is a matter of answering a question about what will happen if Trump wins. We don’t have time. We must have bigger defence industry…