ISTANBUL – NATO’s general secretary said Monday he is “looking forward” to working with Donald Trump’s upcoming U.S. administration and reiterated the trans-Atlantic alliance’s dedication to increasing funds from non-U.S. members.
Speaking at the NATO summit in Istanbul, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said President-elect Trump assured America’s “strong support” for the alliance and the security of Europe during a phone call.
Stoltenberg added that Trump pointed out during Friday’s call of the “importance of increased defense spending among European allies.”
During the election campaign, Trump had called for increasing contributions from allies.
Stoltenberg reminded that all members had pledged to dedicate 2 percent of their GDP to defense spending at the 2014 NATO summit in Wales.
In response to a question on alleged Russian interference in NATO countries’ domestic affairs, Stoltenberg said: “We have seen them conducting propaganda, we are aware of that, we see it. And my answer is that our response to propaganda is not propaganda. But our response to propaganda is facts.”
He added that Russia was behind cyberattacks in NATO countries and that the alliance was working on strengthening its cyber defenses.
On criticism of Turkey’s sweeping crackdown following the failed coup on July 15, he said Turkey had a right to prosecute all those who were behind it, but added that “this has to be done in accordance with the rule of law.”
Turkey has come under intense criticism from opposition groups and its allies over its crackdown on dissenting voices during the state of emergency declared after the July 15 coup.
Close to 37,000 people have been arrested, more than 100,000 people dismissed or suspended from government jobs, and 170 media outlets and scores of businesses and associations have been shut down over alleged ties to terrorist organizations.
Stoltenberg said he hoped that closer cooperation between Ankara and the Council of Europe will ensure that “the rule of law is implemented in accordance with the convention (of Human Rights).”
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