Defying Pessimists, NATO Summit Ends on Positive Note
(Source: Voice of America News; issued May 25, 2017)
BRUSSELS --- Under a sunny spring sky, NATO on Thursday moved into shiny new headquarters that some said project a forward-looking image at odds with critics' characterization of the alliance.

While some European leaders are anxious about the future, others saw Thursday's NATO summit — where discussions were driven largely by the latest terrorist attacks in Europe — as a chance for the alliance to set out in a new direction.

The sprawling, steel-and-glass wings of the new complex are meant to resemble interlocking fingers. The facility drew the admiration of U.S. President Donald Trump, who lightened the mood among leaders otherwise nervous about what he might say.

"I never asked what the new NATO headquarters cost. I refuse to do that. But it is beautiful," Trump said, drawing laughs and smiles.

With a price tag of $1.2 billion, the complex is rich with symbols of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's history and its future.

Merkel dedicates Berlin Wall memorial

At a ceremony, German Chancellor Angela Merkel dedicated a Berlin Wall memorial composed of two sections of the reinforced concrete barrier — a symbol of a free Europe reunited after the Cold War.

A memorial of twisted beams from the World Trade Center towers, destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York, is a reminder that combating terrorism has emerged as a key NATO objective in the 21st century. It's also symbolic of the allies' commitment to come to the aid of any member who is attacked — the collective defense clause of the NATO treaty, known as Article 5. Trump noted that after 9/11, the NATO allies invoked Article 5 for the first and, so far, only time.

Leaders agree to set up intelligence sharing unit

"President Trump dedicated the 9/11 and Article 5 memorial — a powerful reminder of NATO solidarity and importance of our common fight against terrorism," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters.

Stoltenberg praised Trump's current U.S. budget proposal, with its increase in military spending, as "the strongest possible sign of commitment to our alliance."

Leaders agreed to move ahead with an action plan to fight terrorism and set up an intelligence-sharing unit.

The atmospherics of the meeting were better than expected, and that, analysts say, was perhaps Thursday's biggest accomplishment.

"I think at this meeting the mood may have improved," Judy Dempsey, a security analyst at the Carnegie Europe research organization in Brussels, told VOA. "Europeans were very, very nervous about [Trump's] coming. He's here, the sun is shining."

The building, she added, reflects the fact that NATO is here to stay.

Montenegro to become 29th member

The complex speaks of an organization in good shape and resolved to continue efforts against threats in places like Afghanistan, where NATO leaders are soon to decide on boosting troop levels for the training of Afghan forces.

The subject of Russia came up, with the U.S. leader listing it among the top security threats.

The alliance continues to grow. Leaders on Thursday welcomed the president of Montenegro, whose country is soon to become NATO's 29th member.


President: NATO Member Nations Must Increase Defense Spending
(Source: US Department of Defense; issued May 25, 2017)
WASHINGTON --- President Donald J. Trump called for NATO member nations to step up and pay their “fair share” of defense spending in the fight against global terrorism.

The president made his remarks today in Brussels at the unveiling of the NATO 9/11 Memorial during a stop at the new NATO headquarters building during his first overseas trip since taking office in January.

“We remember and mourn those nearly 3,000 innocent people who were brutally murdered by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001,” Trump said. “Our NATO allies responded swiftly and decisively, invoking for the first time in its history the Article 5 collective defense commitments.”

He said the May 22 attack on Manchester, England, demonstrates “the depths of the evil we face with terrorism,” and called it a “barbaric and vicious attack upon our civilization.”

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has claimed responsibility for the Manchester attack that killed at least 22 people and injured approximately 120 others, according to published reports.

POTUS Calls On NATO Nations

The NATO of the future must include a great focus on terrorism, immigration, threats from Russia and those along NATO's eastern and southern borders, the president said.

“These grave security concerns are the same reason that I have been very, very direct with [NATO] Secretary [General Jens] Stoltenberg and members of the alliance in saying that NATO members must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations.”

But 23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should for their defense, Trump said, noting, “This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States, and many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years.”

During the last eight years, the United States spent more on defense than all other NATO countries combined, he said. “If all NATO members had spent just 2 percent of their GDP on defense last year, we would have had another $119 billion for our collective defense and for the financing of additional NATO reserves.”

2 Percent GDP Not Sufficient

Yet, he warned, it should be recognized that with chronic underpayments and growing terrorism threats, even 2 percent of the GDP from member nations is insufficient to close the gaps in modernizing, readiness and the size of forces.

“We have to make up for the many years lost. Two percent is the bare minimum for confronting today's very real and very vicious threats,” Trump said, adding that if NATO countries made their full and complete contributions, NATO would be stronger than it is today, particularly from the threat of terrorism.

“Wherever they exist in our societies, we must drive [terrorists] out and never ever let them back in. This call for driving out terrorism is a message I took to a historic gathering of Arab and Muslim leaders across the region, hosted by Saudi Arabia,” the president said.

Terrorism must be stopped in its tracks, or the horror of Manchester and many other places will continue, he said.


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