World Bulletin / News Desk
Senior European defense officials underlined Wednesday the importance of NATO and transatlantic ties amid growing concerns over US President-elect Donald Trump’s foreign policy.
Speaking at the annual Berlin Security Conference, senior U.K. defense official Peter Watkins said, despite widespread concerns, recent contacts between Trump, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg had led to cautious optimism.
Both May and Stoltenberg underlined in their recent talks with Trump NATO's importance for both European and American security, the Director General of Security Policy at the UK Ministry of Defense said.
"What I hope is that there'll be a very clear statement from President Trump once he has taken office on the importance of transatlantic security and a very strong and continuing commitment by the US to NATO. And I am pretty confident we will get it," Watkins said.
During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump questioned the reason for NATO and the logic of having American troops in foreign land and said countries should assume the costs of protecting themselves, raising worries among European allies.
Elissa Slotkin, U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense, said they were aware of widespread concerns in Europe over possible major changes in U.S. foreign policy, but said the Obama administration would provide the Trump team with best information to formulate their policies.
"Nobody knows until the team comes in and starts making concrete decisions," she said, cautioning against speculations about possible changes.
Geza Andreas vor Geyr, senior official from the German Ministry of Defense, underlined the significance of transatlantic ties both for Europe and the U.S.
"We have a deep interest in keeping strong transatlantic ties and security policy. This is first of all represented by NATO," he said.
The Director General for Security and Defense Policy added that European countries should assume more responsibility to share the security burden with the U.S.
"We Europeans have to take more of the common Atlantic security on our shoulders. This is very clear. We have to strengthen the European pillar in NATO", he said.
Philippe Errera, Director General for International Relations and Strategy at the French Ministry of Defense also backed the view that European countries had to invest more for their security.
"We should continue to be able to take a stronger role, with stronger capabilities, in terms of what our nations are investing in their defense capabilities," Errera said, adding that only then European nations could offer more for the actions carried out by the NATO, EU or international coalitions.
"So that we will be able to defend our security interests with U.S. wherever that is possible, but that is obviously an American decision to know where they would want to do it with us," he added.Last Mod: 30 Kasım 2016, 21:26