Merkel challenger wants Germany to back disarmament, not arms spending

Leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) Martin Schulz said on Monday that if elected he might not meet the US demand on increasing defense spending.

"I'm not of the opinion that it's been agreed on within North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to completely reach the 2 percent GDP goal", Schulz said Monday at the SPD's headquarters in the capital.

Gabriel told Tillerson last month that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation demands would create a vast conventional German military that would be viewed with suspicion by European Union member states already fretting over Germany's leadership in economic matters. However, German voters do not directly elect their chancellor - they will choose parties and local candidates in the September 24 election.

President Donald Trump recently pressed Angela Merkel to deliver on Germany's 2% commitment, which Schulz has vowed to resist.

Currently, Estonia, Greece, Poland, and the United Kingdom are the only European Nato members that have met the target. Germany is one of many countries falling short, with the figure now at 1.23 percent. However, he said that Germany would remain "a strong and reliable member of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation".

Although Merkel barred him from speaking at the Brandenburg Gate, Obama - then a senator - drew 200,000 cheering fans to the nearby Victory Column monument for a speech about ripping down walls of division.

Also Tuesday, German market research group Media Control said Obama has been awarded its German Media Prize for 2016 for embodying a 'vision of a world in which there is hope and change for the better is possible'.

"Two percent would mean military expenses of some 70 billion euros".

"There are some good reasons to believe that this would be a good thing".

Schulz, a former president of the European Parliament, also appeared wary of that prospect.

Schulz told foreign reporters Monday that "what we need is not an arms race but disarmament initiatives".

The centre-left German has the backing of his friend and current leader of the European Commission, centre-right politician Jean-Claude Juncker.

  • Leroy Wright