NATO chief warns against EU defense ambitions

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks on the second day of the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. (AP Photo)

NATO's secretary general warned European members of the alliance against undermining transatlantic ties by their plans to build a European military.

In a speech at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Jens Stoltenberg welcomed EU plans to boost defense capabilities and spending, but also cautioned allies against duplicating military efforts and alienating the U.S.

"Some say that the answer is more Europe, and I agree. But this is only part of it because more Europe cannot mean Europe alone," he stressed.

"Any attempt to distance Europe from North America not only weakens the transatlantic bond and our ability to compete on the global stage, it also risks dividing Europe," he added.

EU heavyweights France and Germany have stepped up plans to build a European army in recent years, following unilateral foreign policy moves by U.S. President Donald Trump. Trump has repeatedly warned Europeans to take more responsibility for their security, threatening to pull U.S. troops out of Europe.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Friday called for a European defense union within the next 10 years, in remarks at the Munich Security Conference. He has been a vocal critic of Trump's foreign policy and has repeatedly argued in favor of "more Europe" in defense.

NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg stressed on Saturday that Europeans and Americans should do more for the unity of the 29-member security bloc.

"I don't believe in Europe alone, as I don't believe in America alone. I believe in Europe and America together," he said.

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