June 18, 2024

European countries should reduce reliance on the U.S. and develop their own defense capabilities, Czech President Petr Pavel said on Oct. 3, Politico reported.

“The dominant role of NATO as a security provider must no longer mean that Europe neglects its defense obligations,” Pavel said at the College of Europe in Bruges.

“Reducing the reliance on the U.S. and developing European strategic enablers is to be seen as our contribution to our transatlantic partnership.”

According to Czechia’s Head of State, allies will very likely have to increase their defense spending past the 2% benchmark set by NATO.

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While the majority of the alliance’s members do not meet this defense expenditures target, the number of those that do is expected to rise to at least 11 this year, compared to only seven in 2022.

Many NATO countries have ramped up their military spending in reaction to the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Pavel also voiced support for the enlargement of the alliance, which “should not be postponed until some hypothetical point in the future, where the candidates are perfectly aligned with us.”

Although Ukraine seeks NATO membership, the alliance has not yet extended a formal invitation. Instead, the military bloc agreed to tighten cooperation with Kyiv and waived the need for the Membership Action Plan during NATO’s Vilnius summit in July.

Read also: Opinion: Weakness is lethal. Why Putin invaded Ukraine and how the war must end

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