Trump comments on NATO are 'scandalous', says Defence minister

Belgian Defence minister Ludivine Dedonder on Sunday denounced US presidential candidate Donald Trump's "scandalous statements" in which he threatened not to come to the aid of NATO countries that fail to meet their financial obligations.

"Mr Trump has gotten us used to these kinds of scandalous statements," Dedonder said on Sunday. During a speech in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, Trump recalled telling an unnamed European leader that the US would not defend countries that were "delinquent".

Trump said the leader had asked him at a NATO meeting whether the US would protect their country if it was attacked by Russia but had failed to meet its financial obligations within NATO. "No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You got to pay,” he recalled replying.

Belgium ranks second to last

Belgium has traditionally ranked near the bottom of NATO's defence spending tables. According to the latest NATO estimates, published in July 2023, Belgium ranks second to last among NATO members in terms of defence spending as a percentage of GDP.

"The current government has invested in rebuilding our defence like never before in 30 years"

Dedonder said on Sunday that EU countries had made an important contribution to helping Ukraine. "As far as Belgium is concerned, the current government has invested in rebuilding our defence like never before in 30 years," she said.

Belgium has launched "the largest recruitment plan for 10,000 military personnel, the acquisition of new capabilities such as artillery and air defence systems, and a new and unprecedented relationship with industry to strengthen innovation", she said.

Technological mastery

For Dedonder, strategic autonomy is not achieved through military capabilities, "but through our industrial base and technological mastery. That is why, for the first time, we have developed a strategy to strengthen our industrial base with a budget of 1.8 billion euros by 2030".

"This objective is shared with other member states, industries and the European Defence Agency in order to build the European pillar within NATO," she said.


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