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Most Germans believe Europe can defend itself without US help: Poll

Soldiers of the German Armed Forces Bundeswehr perform military honors for the German defense minister (not seen) and the incoming Bundeswehr Inspector General during his inauguration ceremony in the capital Berlin on April 19, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

An opinion poll shows that more than half of Germans think Europe can defend itself without military support from the United States.

The survey conducted by the German opinion research institute Forsa said on Monday that the results showed no significant difference between the country’s eastern regions and western areas, which have stronger historical ties to the US.

Sixty percent of the respondents in the east and 55 percent in the west believed Europe did not need Washington.

Only 37 percent of those surveyed said they believed Europe depended on US military support, according to the poll.

The poll surveyed 1,004 Germans.

The findings were released less than two weeks after US President Donald Trump warned at a NATO summit that he could withdraw support for Europe if it did not share more of what he called an unfair burden on US taxpayers in funding the military alliance.

In 2014, NATO countries agreed to meet the current spending target over the next decade, pledging to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on the alliance’s military spending. The alliance has estimated that only 15 members, or just over half, will be able to hit the benchmark by then.

Frustrated by the lack of "burden-sharing," Trump has time and again threatened to leave the alliance if others fail to step up contributions.

Trump has reportedly written to several NATO allies, asking them to increase their military spending for the alliance and warning the US is losing patience.

Baltic Sea gas pipeline project irking Trump?

During the NATO summit in Brussels on July 12, Trump also blasted German Chancellor Angela Merkel and said her country was a “captive” of Moscow for supporting a Baltic Sea gas pipeline from Russia.

Trump singled out the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project worth $11 billion, which directly connects Germany with Russia, saying a flurry of oil and gas deals had given Moscow far too much influence over Europe’s largest economy.

“Germany is totally controlled by Russia … They will be getting between 60 and 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline, and you tell me if that is appropriate because I think it's not,” Trump said.

About 84 percent of the Forsa poll respondents said the US president’s comments about Russia controlling Germany were “completely absurd.”

Two thirds of German participants in the survey said they supported the construction of the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline as the project would help provide their country with a more reliable supply of natural gas.

The poll showed that 92 percent believed Trump’s motive for raising the pipeline issue was primarily to promote the sale of US liquefied gas in Europe and Germany.

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