The Deputy Speaker of Germany’s Bundestag and Vice President of the German Free Democratic Party, Wolfgang Kubicki, has called for the expulsion of US Ambassador Richard Grenell after the latter criticised Germany for failing to meet NATO’s 1.5% target for defence spending.
In a statement to German magazine Der Spiegel on 19 March, Kubicki also demanded that Germany’s foreign minister declare Grenell persona non grata for what Kubicki said was unwelcome interference from the American diplomat in Germany’s domestic affairs.
Grenell has publically threatened German corporates operating in Iran, criticised Berlin’s policy towards Russia’s controversial Nord Stream II pipeline, and threatened to stop intelligence sharing with German agencies if China continues its involvement in the development of 5G infrastructure in Germany.
Germany’s latest budget plan published on Monday envisages a rise in military expenditure to 1.37% of GDP for 2020 – up from 1,23% in 2018 – before it drops to 1,25% in 2021, which Grenell has public;y lambasted as being grossly inadequate for a leading NATO member.
“NATO members clearly pledged to move towards, not away, from the 2% (target) by 2024. That the German government would even be considering reducing its already unacceptable commitments to military readiness is a worrisome signal to Germany’s other 28 partners in the alliance,” Grenell said in a statement.
Carsten Schneider, the chief whip of the Social Democrats in the Bundestag dismissed Grenell as “a complete diplomatic failure.”
“If the US ambassador really thinks it is necessary to comment on the German budget, I wish that he would at least take a larger view. Germany is fulfilling its obligation and is very engaged,” said Michael Grosse-Brömer, the chief whip of the Christian Democratic Union.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her government remained committed to the 1.5% spending objective.
Kubicki, however, was indignant in his response to Grenell saying, “If a US diplomat acts like the high commissioner of an occupying power he will have to learn that our tolerance has its limits.”