Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, US Vice President Mike Pence said his country would remain committed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization but demanded that the European Union countries increase their military spending. Addressing scores of European and other world leaders, Mr. Pence said that he was bringing a message from President Donald Trump about the significance of the trans-Atlantic bond. He promised Europe that the United States would be “your greatest ally” adding that “we will stand with Europe”.
In the most comprehensive speech on foreign policy that the Trump administration has delivered abroad since taking the office, Vice President Pence also reassured that the US would keep Russia “accountable“ for its military intervention in Crimea but failed to address broader issues such as how the new administration sees the EU itself.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was speaking before Mr. Pence, said that Germany would be gradually increasing its military spending until it reaches the NATO standard of 2% of gross domestic product. However, she also pointed out that security was not ensured by higher military spending. She also took the opportunity to support the need for multilateral institutions including NATO, the United Nations and the EU.
European officials generally avoided any criticism of Mr. Trump in Munich as many preferred to be searching for common ground, reminding of the comparisons between European and US foreign policy. “We are linked across the Atlantic with our friends in the United States,” Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign-policy chief, said. “When we see that it is Europe that needs America, it is also America that needs Europe.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was also speaking at the conference and urged all sides to abandon confrontation and turn to dialogue. By working together, the EU, the US and Russia can “overcome the post-truth period and abandon the hysteric information wars…Let it be a post-fake era.” At the same time, he also criticized Western support for Ukraine as well as NATO’s build-up in Eastern Europe.