In Leipzig to mark 25 years since mass protests led to the collapse of the Berlin Wall, US secretary of state from 1989 to 1992 James Baker III called on Germany to do more on the world stage.
“I would like to see Germany carry its weight in Nato and meet defence expenditure levels,” Baker said. “Liberty is not free. We [the US] have been carrying a heavy load for a long time and that just cannot keep on forever.”
“We need the support and cooperation of our Nato allies, particularly in security,” he told journalists.
US Ambassador to Germany John Emerson agreed, mentioning the Nato target – which Germany does not meet – of spending two percent of GDP on defence.
Germany spent around 1.4 percent of GDP on defence last year and increased its military budget in 2013.
“We are very pleased to see the discussion that is going on in Germany (about being more militarily involved),” the ambassador said.
“Germany is really thinking hard about the appropriate role it needs to play in the world, commensurate with its power.
"Issues today don’t have the same existential threat [as in 1989] but they are serious.”
Free countries, free trade
The Middle East, Ukraine, Ebola and the fears that so many people have about globalization are all problems which Germany and the US must face together, Ambassador Emerson said, calling for Germans to support the TTIP free trade agreement being negotiated between the EU and US.
Baker added: “Nothing could be more important to generate growth in Europe and the US [than TTIP]. If it doesn’t happen, it will be a tragedy.”
And referring to the fallout between the US and German governments over US intelligence activities in Germany, Baker said: “There have always been policy differences. The idea that we would never disagree is far-fetched. We manage our differences.”