BRUSSELS - NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on allies on Thursday to stick to the goal of spending 2 per cent of gross domestic product on defence - despite the pressure that the coronavirus outbreak will put on government expenditure.
The crisis will have "severe consequences" for government budgets, although it is too early to assess the long-term consequences, the head of the defense alliance said on Thursday, the NATO chief said.
However, he stressed that NATO allies had decided to boost defense expenditure because we live in a more uncertain, more unpredictable world."
"This has not changed. So I expect the allies to stay committed to investing more in our security," he added.
According to NATO's annual report, which was released on Thursday, nine of NATO's 29 allies reached the goal last year, while the alliance's total defense expenditure rose by 4.6 percent year-on-year, in the fifth consecutive year of growth.
The crisis has led NATO to adapt its operations, for example by modifying or cancelling military exercises. However, Stoltenberg said that it had not undermined NATO's ability to act.