German For Min sees challenge reaching NATO defence spending goal

MUNICH, Feb 18 (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Saturday said it would be difficult for Germany to add a required 25 billion euros to its defence budget to meet a NATO military spending target if politicians were seeking to lower taxes at the same time.

Gabriel, a Social Democrat, said Germany remained committed to the NATO target, but said NATO members also needed to focus on tackling the root causes of security threats, such as climate change and poverty, and not focus solely on military spending.

He also questioned the wisdom of focusing solely on military spending as a percentage of gross domestic product, noting that Greece met NATO’s target of spending two percent of economic output on defence, but was having trouble paying its pensions.

Germany should also get credit, he said, for the 30-40 billion euros it was spending to integrate over a million refugees displaced “as result of failed military interventions of the past.”

“We have to find 25 billion euros in a short time to meet the NATO target,” Gabriel said. “I have no idea where we can find these ... billions of euros, at least not if we are also signing ambitious tax reduction agreements at the same time.”

“Let’s hold onto the direction, but not launch happily into a new arms race spiral because that alone will not guarantee our security,” he said. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by John Irish)