NATO pleads for larger Dutch defense budget
NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen met with Prime-Minister Mark Rutte and King Willem-Alexander in The Hague, Thursday. Rasmussen urges the Netherlands to increase its defense budget again.
' I asked to invest more in our security, as soon as the economy recovers,' said the Secretary General in an interview with Nu.nl.
He continued: ' Of course it's a national decision, but I am concerned about the declining defense budgets in all of Europe. We have to keep investing in modern military capability.'
Rasmussen reminded his discussion partners that the Dutch defense budget dropped with 15 percent between 2008 and 2013, which is more than the European average. If Europe continues down this path, the continent will no longer be able to defend itself, nor will it be able to take part in international operations. That would have a negative impact on the relations with the U.S.A.
In the budget discussions the focus is too much on the short-term expenses and not enough on the long-term benefits, according to Rasmussen, who cites the piracy along the coast of Somalia as an example. It would be cheaper in the long run to address the conflict there, than paying 150,000 euros every time a Dutch ship has to pass through the Gulf of Aden.
Another example why a sound defense is important is the situation in Syria, according to Rasmussen. ' The threat of military intervention by the international community convinced Assad to dismantle the chemical weapons in his country.' He did however express concern about the lack of progress in accomplishing the task, although a political solution is the only alternative in this case.
The NATO Secretary General also pleaded for the Netherlands to take part in NATO training missions in Afghanistan in 2015. The current ISAF mission ends this year, and ' we have to carry on. Afghanistan should not become a safe haven for terrorists. That's why we need to start a training mission.'
Rasmussen stated to have come to know Dutch as ' responsible people' and trusts they ' will do the right thing.'