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Romania Just Pledged To Pay Its NATO Dues — But It Has Nothing To Do With Trump

Romania's pledge to meet its commitment to paying 2% of its GDP into its defense is something President Trump has harped on. But it made the choice back in 2015.

Posted on February 21, 2017, at 3:46 p.m. ET

Vice President Mike Pence was in Europe this weekend, meeting with NATO leadership and reassuring them of the US's commitment to the alliance — and reminding them to pay their bills.

All of NATO's 28 members have pledged to spend 2% of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense — and most of them are pretty crap at it, to be honest. "America will do our part," Pence said while in Brussels. "But Europe's defense requires Europe's commitment as well as ours," he continued, adding "the patience of the American people will not endure forever."
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All of NATO's 28 members have pledged to spend 2% of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense — and most of them are pretty crap at it, to be honest. "America will do our part," Pence said while in Brussels. "But Europe's defense requires Europe's commitment as well as ours," he continued, adding "the patience of the American people will not endure forever."

That's been a big deal for President Donald Trump, who during the campaign called NATO "obsolete" and insisted that the US might not step up to defend members if they don't pay up.

For the record, the US spends a little over 3% of its GDP on defense spending — but our economy is also absolutely massive, so grain of salt there.
Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images

For the record, the US spends a little over 3% of its GDP on defense spending — but our economy is also absolutely massive, so grain of salt there.

Then on Monday, Romania's embassy in Washington decided to herald the fact that it would become the sixth member of NATO to actually reach that goal.

"The budget drafted by the Government of Romania had received prior approval by the Parliament and the defense authorization provisions have been unanimously supported by all political parties," the statement from the embassy read. "This sets a new milestone in Romania’s NATO membership and reconfirms Romania’s unwavering commitment to transatlantic security."
Daniel Mihailescu / AFP / Getty Images

"The budget drafted by the Government of Romania had received prior approval by the Parliament and the defense authorization provisions have been unanimously supported by all political parties," the statement from the embassy read.

"This sets a new milestone in Romania’s NATO membership and reconfirms Romania’s unwavering commitment to transatlantic security."

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But, according to Romania at least, none of this had anything to do with Trump or his declarations during the campaign or his time in office.

"Romania’s 2% commitment has been driven primarily by our NATO membership," embassy spokesperson Lucian Purcareanu told BuzzFeed News in an email, after being asked if the decision was at all prompted by President Trump. "One of the first decisions of the Romanian President upon taking office at the end of 2014 was to seek the broadest political consensus to back this commitment. This led to a political agreement in early 2015 between the President and the representatives of all parliamentary parties to support the gradual increase of Romania’ defense budget, targeting the 2% threshold in 2017."
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"Romania’s 2% commitment has been driven primarily by our NATO membership," embassy spokesperson Lucian Purcareanu told BuzzFeed News in an email, after being asked if the decision was at all prompted by President Trump. "One of the first decisions of the Romanian President upon taking office at the end of 2014 was to seek the broadest political consensus to back this commitment. This led to a political agreement in early 2015 between the President and the representatives of all parliamentary parties to support the gradual increase of Romania’ defense budget, targeting the 2% threshold in 2017."

That makes sense given past US administrations have been trying to get NATO allies to pony up for decades now. As late as November, former president Obama was hammering the point.

“I want to take this opportunity to commend Greece for being one of the five NATO allies that spends 2% of GDP on defense, a goal that we have consistently set but not everybody has met,” Obama said. “Greece has done this even during difficult economic times. If Greece can meet this NATO commitment, all our NATO allies should be able to do so.”
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“I want to take this opportunity to commend Greece for being one of the five NATO allies that spends 2% of GDP on defense, a goal that we have consistently set but not everybody has met,” Obama said. “Greece has done this even during difficult economic times. If Greece can meet this NATO commitment, all our NATO allies should be able to do so.”

The difference is, though, that no president since NATO was established has threatened to not follow through on defending fellow members. So...

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