France, Germany spend too little on defence, Polish PM tells Die Welt

2020-01-11 12:20 update: 2020-01-12, 21:05
Photo: PAP/Piotr Nowak
Photo: PAP/Piotr Nowak
France and Germany have failed to keep their pledges of spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defence, Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki said in an interview with the German newspaper Die Welt, published on Saturday.

The 2 pct of GDP spending level is an official NATO recommendation for all its member countries.

"If NATO suffers from something, then it is lack of involvement of some member states. France and Germany are among the countries that so far have not kept their own pledges to spend 2 pct of their GDP on defence. In such a situation, how is NATO supposed to meet expectations?" the Polish prime minister said.

He also disagreed with French President Emmanuel Macron's opinion that NATO is "brain dead."

Morawiecki said Eastern Europe has increased their defence co-operation. He expressed hope that Berlin will better understand the concerns of his region than Paris does, saying he is sceptical about France's efforts to normalise relations with Russia.

A true normalisation of relations with Kremlin would require Moscow's withdrawal from the Crimean Peninsula that it annexed from Ukraine in 2014 and ending its infiltration of the breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.

Morawiecki also criticised Russia's role in Syria and its strategic gas pipeline project, the Nord Stream 2, which is being built in collaboration with Germany and which bypasses Eastern Europe, making the region more vulnerable to energy blackmail from Russia.

"We need to avert the worst scenario: Moscow should never be able to blackmail the EU with stopping gas supplies. We need to diversify our energy sources so that we don't become dependent on Russia," Morawiecki said.

Asked about Poland's dependence on coal and a related potential conflict with the EU, which seeks climate neutrality, Morawiecki said that Poland had not chosen its energy mix, it was chosen for it by the Soviet Union, as the country was part of the Soviet bloc until 1989.

"We agree with the basic goal that energy supplies in Europe must become more environmentally friendly. At the same time we ask our partners to acknowledge that Poland must walk a longer way to CO2 emissions neutrality than many other EU member states," Morawiecki argued.

At an EU summit in late 2019, all member states, except Poland, provisionally agreed to reach climate neutrality by 2050.

The Polish prime minister also expressed concerns about anti-American sentiment in some EU member countries. He said that without the US, Europe will not be able to counter Russia's hybrid attacks and growing Chinese influence. (PAP)