Remarks by President Trump at Press Conference After NATO Summit | Brussels, Belgium
NATO Headquarters Brussels, Belgium July 12, 2018 12:21 P.M. CEST
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, everybody. Appreciate it. We've had a very amazing two-day period in Brussels. And we really accomplished a lot, with respect to NATO. For years, Presidents have been coming to these meetings and talked about the expense - the tremendous expense for the United States. And tremendous progress has been made; everyone has agreed to substantially up their commitment. They're going to up it at levels that they've never thought of before.
Prior to last year, where I attended my first meeting, it was going down - the amount of money being spent by countries was going down and down very substantially. And now, it's going up very substantially. And commitments were made. Only 5 of 29 countries were making their commitment. And that's now changed. The commitment was at 2 percent. Ultimately, that'll be going up quite a bit higher than that.
So we are - we made a tremendous amount of progress today. It's been about, at a minimum, they estimate - and they're going to be giving you exact numbers - but since last year, they've raise an additional $33 billion that's been put up by the various countries, not including the United States.
And the United States' commitment to NATO is very strong, remains very strong, but primarily because everyone - the spirit they have, the amount of money they're willing to spend, the additional money that they will be putting up has been really, really amazing to see it. To see the level of spirit in that room is incredible.
And I hope that we're going to be able to get along with Russia. I think that we probably will be able to. The people in the room think so, but they nevertheless - they really stepped up their commitment, and stepped it up like they never have before.
So took in an addition $33 [billion]. The number could actually be higher than $40 [billion] when they give you the final number. The Secretary General, Stoltenberg, will be giving those numbers sometime today, probably in his concluding press statement. But we are doing numbers like they've never done before or ever seen before. And you'll be seeing that, and I guess you'll be hearing that a little bit later.
Okay. We have our Secretary of State, as you know, and we have - John is here. So if you have any questions for the three of us. Mike Pompeo just got back from a third trip, as you know, to North Korea. He's become a true expert on the trips to North Korea - the best way to get there, the best way to get out. And he gets along very well. And he's doing a great job over there.
Q I have a question.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q Mr. President, I'm Tara McKelvey with the BBC. Can you tell us whether or not you warned people that the U.S. would pull out of NATO if they weren't meeting their spending goals?
THE PRESIDENT: I told people that I'd be very unhappy if they didn't up their commitments very substantially, because the United States has been paying a tremendous amount, probably 90 percent of the cost of NATO. And now, people are going to start and countries are going to start upping their commitments. So I let them know yesterday, actually. I was surprised that you didn't pick it up; it took until today. But yesterday, I let them know that I was extremely unhappy with what was happening, and they have substantially upped their commitment, yeah. And now we're very happy and have a very, very powerful, very, very strong NATO, much stronger than it was two days ago.
Q Hi, President Trump.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, hi. How are you?
Q I'm the White House Correspondent for PBS -
THE PRESIDENT: I know. You're very famous on television.
Q I have a question, again, about - did you ever, at any point, say that the U.S., though, might stop engaging with NATO? And do you think that your rhetoric helps NATO cohesion, or are you worried that people might think that U.S. might not be as committed to NATO? There are a lot of people who say they were worried and stressed by what you did yesterday.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, they were probably worried because the United States was not being treated fairly, but now we are, because the commitment has been upped so much. So now they are. And I was very firm yesterday.
You have to understand, I know a lot of the people in the room. I was here last year. I let them know last year - in a less firm manner, but pretty firm - and they raised an additional $33 billion, I think going to $40 billion. But it's $33 billion as of today. And then today and yesterday, I was probably a little bit more firm.
But I believe in NATO. I think NATO is a very important - probably the greatest ever done. 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.
In addition to that, as you know, we're in negotiations with the EU, and we're going to be meeting with them next week. We've been treated very unfairly on trade. Our farmers have been shut out of the European Union. Now, you could say they're different, but basically, to a large extent, they're the same countries.
So I think we're going to be ultimately treated fairly on trade. We'll see what happens, but 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.
Q President Trump, Ryan Chilcote, PBS NewsHour. Did you win concessions in your meetings and discussions with the German Chancellor when it comes to German defense spending and also with this issue of purchasing energy from Russia? And secondly, what would you say to your critics that say by creating this scene here at NATO you're only enabling President Putin and Russia to further disturb things in Ukraine and Georgia?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, if you consider putting up tremendously - you know, the additional funds at a level that nobody has ever seen before, I don't think that's helping Russia. I think that NATO is much stronger now than it was two days ago. I think that NATO was not doing what they were supposed to be doing - a lot of the countries. And we were doing much more than we should have been doing.
Frankly, we were carrying too much of a burden. That's why we call it "burden-sharing." I was using the term a lot today. "Burden-sharing." We had a fantastic meeting at the end - 29 countries. And they are putting up a lot. Germany has increased very substantially their time period, and Germany is coming along. And we still have to figure out what's going on with the pipeline, because the pipeline is coming in from Russia.
So we're going to have to figure that out. I brought it up; nobody brought it up but me, and we all are talking about it now. And actually, I think the world is talking about it now maybe more than anything else. But we're going to figure that out.
But - and, frankly, maybe everybody is going to have a good relationship with Russia so there will be a lot less problem with the pipeline. But, to me, that was a very major point of contention. We discussed it at length today. Germany has agreed to do a lot better than they were doing, and we're very happy with that. We had a very good relationship with Angela Merkel.
Q Mr. President -
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, go ahead.
Q Hi. Thank you. Margaret Talev from Bloomberg.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. After all these years, I know, Margaret. Go ahead.
Q Thank you. Maybe I'm being dense here, but could you just clarify: Are you still threatening to potentially pull the United States out of NATO for any reason? And do you believe you can do that without Congress's explicit support and approval?
THE PRESIDENT: I think I probably can, but that's unnecessary. And the people have stepped up today like they've never stepped up before. And remember the word - $33 billion more, they're paying. And you'll hear that from the Secretary General in a little while. He thanked me actually. He actually thanked me. And everybody in the room thanked me. There's a great collegial spirit in that room that I don't think they've had in many years. They're very strong. So, yeah, very unified, very strong. No problem. Right?
Yes, go ahead.
Q We're in NATO. No - no -
THE PRESIDENT: No problem. Go ahead.
Q Mr. President, Jonathan Lemire with the Associated Press. You have said previously you wanted the countries to step up their spending to 2 percent. Yesterday there was a suggestion it might be 4 percent, or perhaps 2 percent at a much quicker timetable. Can you clarify, what did they commit to doing? Is that satisfactory to you?
THE PRESIDENT: So what they're doing is spending at a much faster clip. They're going up to the 2 percent level. Now, you have to understand, some of them have parliaments, they have their own congresses, they have a lot of things they have to go through. So, you know, they're here as prime minister or a as a president, and they can't necessarily go in and say, this is what we're going to do. But they're going back for approvals.
Some are at 2 percent; others have agreed definitely to go to 2 percent. And some are going back to get the approval, and which they will get, to go to 2 percent. After the 2 percent, we'll start talking about going higher. But I said, ultimately we should be, in years - in advance - we should be at 4 percent. I think 4 percent, it's the right number.
Now, the United States - depending on the way you calculate it - was at 4.2 percent. And I said, that's unfair. And we have the largest GDP by far, especially since we've increased it by so much since a thing called the election. Our GDP has gone way up. And so the fact that our GDP went way up, that means we're paying for even more, which is very unfair. So I explained that.
We will go to much higher than 2 percent into the future, but right now we're getting people up to 2 percent, and that will take place over a fairly short period of time - a short number of years. Okay?
Yeah, go ahead.
Q Hi, Tomas LeCrass (ph) from (inaudible) journalist Croatia Daily Newspaper. We understand your message -
THE PRESIDENT: Congratulations, by the way.
Q Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: On soccer.
Q Thank you. We understand your message, but some people ask themselves, will you be tweeting differently once you board the Air Force One? Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: No, that's other people that do that. I don't. I'm very consistent. I'm a very stable genius. (Laughter.)
Go ahead. Yeah, go ahead.
Q Thank you, sir. Jeremy Diamond with CNN. How are you?
THE PRESIDENT: Hi, Jeremy.
Q Quick question with regards to Germany and the comments that you made yesterday. Do you feel like given the threats that you made about potentially leaving NATO, about insulting Germany's sovereignty, it appears, by suggesting that they're totally controlled by Russia - do you feel like that's an effective way to conduct diplomacy? And secondly, would you be able to be a little bit more specific about the commitments that you secured today with regards to increasing the financial commitment? Is there an updated timeline? Are there specific countries you could cite? Because a majority of them were already planning to meet that 2 percent threshold by 2024.
THE PRESIDENT: No, many of them - in fact, Germany was going to be in the year 2028 or '30. Yeah, I think it's a very effective way to deal, but I didn't deal exactly the way you said. I have great respect for Germany. My father is from Germany. Both of my parents are from the EU, despite the fact they don't treat us well on trade.
But I think that will change also, and I think we'll see that - because on the 25th of July, they're coming in to start negotiations with me. We'll see. And if they don't negotiate in good faith, we'll do something having to do with all of the millions of cars that are coming into our country and being taxed at a virtually zero level, at a very low level.
But, Jeremy, I think it's been a very effective way of negotiating. But I'm not negotiating; I just want fairness for the United States. We're paying for far too much of NATO. NATO is very important. But NATO is helping Europe more than it's helping us. At the same time, it's very good for us.
So we have now got it to a point where people are paying a lot more money, and that's starting - really, last year. It really had - you were there last year. And last year we had a big impact. Again, we took in $33 billion more. And if you ask Secretary General Stoltenberg, he gives us total credit - meaning me, I guess, in this case, total credit - because I said it was unfair.