Solberg does not want to pinpoint a figure for NATO promise

Prime Minister Erna SolbergPrime Minister Erna Solberg.Photo: Vidar Ruud / NTB scanpix

Norway will come closer to NATO’s goal of spending 2% of GDP on defence, promised Prime Minister Erna Solberg. But she is not willing to name a figure of how much.

 

“We can not say just how much today. There are many unknown factors,’’ said Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Høyre (H) to NTB news.

She recently promised that the use of money will move upwards to 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) in the next long-term plan for the defence sector.

But Solberg does not want to put any exact numbers on the table.

‘’I can not say anything more about it. We can not make it concrete,”she said.

Norway under pressure

It is still a while before the new long-term plan is to be presented.Today’s plan is valid until 2020, while the next will cover the period from 2021 to 2024.

That’s why Solberg did not have to give details yet.

Norway has been under strong political pressure in front of NATO’s summit, which will take place on Wednesday and Thursday this week at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels.

There, Solberg had risked standing before U.S. President Donald Trump with nothing new to show.

Letter from Trump

In advance of the meeting,Trump has made it a key requirement that European Allies must increase defence budgets.
He believes it is deeply unfair to U.S. taxpayers that the USA today takes such a large part of the bill for the security of rich European countries.

In June,Trump wrote bold letters to several allies about the matter.

In the letter to Solberg, which was reproduced by VG newspaper,he pointed out that Norway is the only NATO country with a border with Russia who still have no credible plan to spend at least 2% of GDP on defence.

Big gap

Solberg says there is no doubt that Trump will continue to squeeze.

She is nevertheless clear that she will not give any guarantee that Norway will reach 2% by 2024. Until then, the gap is too large.

“This means that almost all the wriggle room in the Norwegian economy will be used for defence. I think people want to build roads and hospitals too,” said Solberg.

Today, the defence budget is approximately 1.65 of GDP. It would cost NOK 13 billion more to reach 2%.

Defends today’s order

According to Solberg, the government has always believed that it is not the amount that is most important, but what the money is spent on.

In addition, Norway has a four-year long-term plan that makes it impossible to quantify the level in 2024 already, she pointed out.

“That’s the way we’ve been doing it for years, and it has worked very well for the Norwegian defence industry,” said Solberg, who strongly suggested that countries with more long-term plans do not have the same credibility.

“We deliver solid plans when we provide long-term information.Others deliver only theoretical plans,’’ she said.

 

© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today

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