Donald J. Trump & Jens Stoltenberg

Remarks at a NATO Bilateral Breakfast Meeting

delivered 11 July 2018, Brussels, Belgium

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[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

President Trump:  Good morning, everybody.  Good morning to the media -- the legitimate media and the fake-news media.  Good morning to both.  A lot of good people here.  Surprising.

Question: Mr. President, which countries did you want to spend more on NATO in particular?

President Trump:  Just look at the chart.  Take a look at the chart.  Itís public.  And many countries are not paying what they should.  And, frankly, many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money for many years back, where theyíre delinquent, as far as Iím concerned, because the United States has had to pay for them.  So if you go back 10 or 20 years, youíll just add it all up.  Itís massive amounts of money is owed.  The United States has paid and stepped up like nobody.  This has gone on for decades, by the way.  This has gone on for many Presidents.  But no other President brought it up like I bring it up.  So something has to be done, and the Secretary General has been working on it very hard.

This year, since our last meeting, commitments have been made for over 40 billion dollars more money spent by other countries.  So thatís a step, but itís a very small step.  It sounds like a lot of money -- and it is -- but itís a very small amount of money relative what -- to what they owe and to what they should be paying.  And itís an unfair burden on the United States.

So weíre here to talk about that, and Iím sure it will be resolved.  I have a great confidence in the Secretary General.  Heís worked very, very hard on this, and he knows itís a fact.  But I have great confidence in him and his representatives.

Would you like to say something? [to Secretary General Stoltenberg]

Secretary General Stoltenberg:  First of all, itís great to see you again, Mr. President, and good to have you here for a summit.  And we are going to discuss many important issues at the summit; among them is defense spending.  And we all agree that we have to do more.  I agree with you that we have to do make sure that our allies are investing more.  The good news is that allies have started to invest more in defense.

After years of cutting defense budgets, they've started to add billions to their defense budgets.  And last year was the biggest increase in defense spending across Europe and Canada in that generation.

President Trump:  Why was that last year?

Secretary General Stoltenberg:  Itís also because of your leadership, and because of your carried message.  And -- And --

President Trump:  They wonít write that, but thatís okay.

Secretary General Stoltenberg:  No, I have said it before and...but the thing is that it really has.  It's -- Your message is having an impact, and we are going to build on that to make sure that we have further increases.  You initiated last year that all allies are going to develop national plans on how to spend more on defense.  And based on these national plans, we now estimate that the European allies and Canada will add 266 extra U.S. dollars for defense from now until -- billion U.S. dollars -- until 2024.

So -- So this is really adding some extra momentum.  It helps and we are moving in the right direction.  But we still have -- But we still have to do more, and that is what weíre going to address after the summit later on today.

Let me also add that [a] strong NATO is good for Europe but itís also good for [the] United States.  The U.S. main purpose in Europe helps to protect Europe, but it also helps the United States project power to the Middle East, to Africa.  And I think also that clout -- the military clout of Europe, the economic clout, the political clout -- also is helpful dealing with -- with Russia.  And we look forward to the meeting youíre going to have with President Putin.  And I think that leaders are also looking forward to your thoughts about the meeting with President Putin later on.

President Trump:  Well, I have to say, I think itís very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia, where youíre supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia.  So weíre protecting Germany.  Weíre protecting France.  Weíre protecting all of these countries.  And then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia, where theyíre paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia.

So weíre supposed to protect you against Russia, but theyíre paying billions of dollars to Russia, and I think thatís very inappropriate.  And the former Chancellor of Germany is the head of the pipeline company thatís supplying the gas.  Ultimately, Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas.

So you tell me, is that appropriate?  I mean...Iíve been complaining about this from the time I got in.  It should have never been allowed to have happened.  But Germany is totally controlled by Russia, because they will [be] getting from 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline.  And you tell me if thatís appropriate, because I think itís not, and I think itís a very bad thing for NATO and I donít think it should have happened.  And I think we have to talk to Germany about it.

On top of that, Germany is just paying a little bit over 1 percent, whereas the United States, in actual numbers, is paying 4.2 percent of a much larger GDP.  So I think thatís inappropriate also.  You know, weíre protecting Germany; weíre protecting France; weíre protecting everybody, and yet weíre paying a lot of money to protect.

Now, this has been going on for decades.  This has been brought up by other Presidents.  But other Presidents never did anything about it because I donít think they understood it or they just didnít want to get involved.

But I have to bring it up, because I think itís very unfair to our country.  Itís very unfair to our taxpayer.  And I think that these countries have to step it up not over a 10-year period; they have to step it up immediately.  Germany is a rich country.  They talk about theyíre going to increase it a tiny bit by 2030.  Well, they could increase it immediately tomorrow and have no problem.  I donít think itís fair to the United States. So weíre going to have to do something because weíre not going to put up with it.  We canít put up with it.  And itís inappropriate.

So we have to talk about the billions and billions of dollars thatís being paid to the country that weíre supposed to be protecting you against.  You know, everybody is -- everybody is talking about it all over the world.  Theyíll say, well, wait a minute, weíre supposed to be protecting you from Russia, but why are you paying billions of dollars to Russia for energy?  Why are countries in NATO, namely Germany, having a large percentage of their energy needs paid, you know, to Russia and taken care of by Russia?

Now, if you look at it, Germany is a captive of Russia because they supply -- they got rid of their coal plants.  They got rid of their nuclear.  Theyíre getting so much of the oil and gas from Russia.  I think itís something that NATO has to look at.  I think itís very inappropriate.  You and I agreed that itís inappropriate.  I donít know what you can do about it now, but it certainly doesnít seem to make sense that they paid billions of dollars to Russia and now we have to defend them against Russia.

Secretary General Stoltenberg:  You know, NATO is an alliance of 29 nations, and there are sometimes differences and different views, and also some disagreements.  And the gas pipeline from Russia to Germany is one issue where allies disagree.  But the strength of NATO is that despite these differences, we have always been able to unite around our core task, to protect and defend each other, because we understand that we are stronger together than apart.

I think that two World Wars and the Cold War taught us that we are stronger together than apart.

President Trump:  But how can you be together when a country is getting its energy from the person you want protection against or from the group that you want protection [from]?

Secretary General Stoltenberg:  Because we understand that when we stand together, also in dealing with Russia, we are stronger.  I think what we have seen is that --

President Trump:  No, youíre just making Russia richer.  Youíre not dealing with Russia.  Youíre making Russia richer.

Secretary General Stoltenberg:  Well, I think that even during the Cold War, NATO Allies were trading with Russia, and then there have been disagreements about what kind of trade arrangements we should go into.

President Trump:  That's right. I think trade is wonderful.  I think energy is a whole different story.  I think energy is a much different story than normal trade.  And you have a country like Poland that wonít accept the gas.  You take a look at some of the countries -- they wonít accept it, because they donít want to be captive to Russia.  But Germany, as far as Iím concerned, is captive to Russia, because itís getting so much of its energy from Russia.  So weíre supposed to protect Germany, but theyíre getting their energy from Russia.  Explain that.  And it canít be explained -- you know that.

Staff: All right, thank you press. Thank you....

[Crosstalk/questions by reporters.]

**Question: What are the consequences if they donít spend more, Mr. President?

President Trump:  They will spend more. I have great confidence that theyíll spend more.  I have great confidence.

Question: Mr. President, does something have to change on trade for you to keep your troop levels in Europe?

President Trump:  I have great confidence that they will be spending more money, as they should be.

Question: Mr. President, why is it [inaudible] spend 10 times more than Russia for defense?  Why is it necessary to spend 10 times more money on defense [inaudible]?  You are a businessman.

President Trump: Itís a shame they made that deal.  Too bad.  Itís too bad. Thank you.**

** = content absent from audio above but verified as delivered. Note: Video recordings of the meeting on the NATO channel, DVIDS, the White House YouTube channel, and C-SPAN end at the "Crosstalk" note above. A video recording appearing on the News 6 YouTube channel, among others, includes the remarks within red asterisks.

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