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General Hodges: Uncertainty over Trump’s NATO speech unfortunate

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Prague, July 9 (CTK) – The uncertainty caused by the speech to be delivered by U.S. President Donald Trump at the forthcoming NATO summits in Brussels is unfortunate, Ben Hodges, a former commanding general of the United States Army Europe, told journalists on Monday.

Hodges said he hoped Trump would confirm the continuing U.S. commitments to the NATO allies.

Hodges came to a debate staged by the Institute for European policy EUROPEUM.

The two-day NATO summit starts on Wednesday. It will deal with current security challenges, including the relation with Russia, the sharing of defence expenditures, the modernisation and reform of the NATO command structure and NATO’s further enlargement.

Trump is planning to tell the representatives of other allied countries that the USA cannot serve as a world’s “piggy bank” from which defence is paid, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said recently.

Trump has repeatedly criticised NATO members for underfinancing their militaries.

Hodges said it was reasonable that Trump should exert a pressure on the allies in order to raise their defence expenditures.

At present, the USA is spending on defence much more than its European allies.

NATO members have pledged to spend 2 percent of their GDP on the purpose, but most of them, including the Czech Republic, are not doing so.

Trump’s criticism also targeted Germany. Hodges said a negative stand on Germany was unfair. It could raise its defence spending, but it was barely spoken about what it has done for NATO in recent years.

Hodges said NATO should adopt a different view of the 2 percent duty to raise the defence spending.

The Alliance should think out a pattern whitin which the costs on improvement in the infrastructure and cyber security should be included in defence spending.

Hodges said Europe needed more German trains than German tanks because the capability of transporting the armed forces was vital at present.

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