President Donald Trump “just want[s] fairness for the United States” because the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) “is helping Europe more than it’s helping us,” the chief executive said Thursday as he concluded his participation in the testy two-day NATO summit in Brussels.
“I just want fairness for the United States. We are paying for far too much of NATO. NATO is very important. But NATO is helping Europe more than it’s helping us,” Trump said during a press conference. “At the same time, it’s very good for us.”
Trump made headlines Wednesday after he tangled with world leaders on a variety of issues such as trade, funding inequalities, and countries involved in a pipeline deal with Russia.
“I believe in NATO. I think NATO is a very important, probably the greatest ever done,” Trump said. “But the United States was paying for anywhere from 70 to 90 percent of it, depending on the way you calculate. That’s not fair to the United States.”
“I can tell you that NATO now is really a fine-tuned machine. People are paying money that they never paid before — they’re happy to do it. And the United States is being treated much more fairly,” Trump said.
The president credited himself with achieving a more level playing field after he informed world leaders he “was extremely unhappy with what was happening.” Trump also urged NATO members to fulfill their 2 percent GDP defense-spending commitments by 2024 for a $40 billion increase in spending.
“And if you ask [NATO] Secretary General [Jens] Stoltenberg, he gives us total credit, meaning me, I guess in this case, total credit, because I said [the spending discrepancy] was unfair,” Trump said. “Now, what has happened is presidents over many years, from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, they came in, they said, ‘OK, hey, do the best you can,’ and they left.”
“Nobody did anything about it, and it got to a point where the United States was paying for 90 percent of NATO. And that’s not fair,” Trump added. “So it’s changed.”
Although Trump’s meetings with NATO nation leaders were often tense and charged, the president insisted that he participated in “a really good meeting” Thursday “in terms of getting along.”
“We have a great relationship. Everybody in that room by the time we left got along, and they agreed to pay more, and they agreed to pay it more quickly,” Trump said.
The president also noted that the U.S. will engage in discussions with EU nations next week to discuss trade imbalances.
“We have been treated very unfairly on trade. Our farmers have been shut out of the European Union,” Trump said. “So I think we’re going to be ultimately treated fairly on trade. We will see what happens.”