(CNSNews.com) - Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said Friday that his country is increasing its contribution to NATO after hearing President Donald Trump's speech last month at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
During a joint press conference at the White House, Trump praised Iohannis for committing to increase Romania's defense spending to NATO from 1.4 percent to two percent, as Trump called for during his speech in Brussels on May 25. Trump said other nations are also starting to "realize that it's time to pay up."
"I was in Brussels, and I met President Trump. I listened to his speech, and I liked it, because you see NATO is based on values, but it is ultimately military alliance," the Romanian president said. A reporter asked whether Iohannis thought it was fair that Trump encouraged NATO members to pay but also countries, including Romania, who had not paid two percent in the past to make up for that difference.
"And you know, military spendings are complicated, and you need a lot of money, because NATO is the strongest alliance the earth ever saw, and we want to keep it that way, so we have to spend money for defense purposes," Iohannis said. "And spending money means if you're in alliance, everybody has to spend money. This is called burden-sharing, and I fully agree, Mr. President, to that.
"So of course, some people liked this better, and some didn't like it so much, but It's a simple fact that we have to do this," Iohannis said, adding that NATO must stay strong and "defend our nations."
"We hope our other NATO allies will follow Romania's lead in paying their fair share for the cost of defense, but I will say this, that because of our actions, money is starting to pour in to NATO. The money is starting to pour in. Other countries are starting to realize that it's time to pay up. Very proud of that fact," Trump said.
"As you know, I have been an advocate for strengthening our NATO alliance through greater responsibility and burden-sharing among member nations, and that is what is happening, because together we can confront the common security challenges facing the world," the president said.
"One of the things I was referring to during that speech was the fact that, yes, they haven't paid what we should be paying now, but for many years they haven't been paying," Trump said about his speech in Brussels.
"So I said do we ever go back and say, how about paying what they should have been paying many, many years past. Now i know no president has ever asked that question, but I do," Trump said.
"We're going to make NATO very strong. You need the money to make it strong. You can't just do what we've been doing in the past, so I did say, yes you haven't paid this year, but what about the past years, the many past years where you haven't paid. Perhaps you should pay some or all of that money back," Trump added.