Europe News

Trump's cry for more NATO spending is 'so simple' to resolve: Finland President

Putin not the biggest threat to Europe today: Finland President

European countries should simply increase their defense spending and adhere to the NATO alliance as U.S. President Donald Trump has demanded, Finland's President Sauli Niinistö told CNBC on Friday.

Trump has previously criticized the NATO defense alliance and indicated he would be prepared to withdraw support unless European countries raised their defense spending to at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product.

"Our position is what has been agreed (between NATO countries) should be fulfilled, that's so simple in my opinion," Niinistö told CNBC on Friday.

"I think that Europeans start to understand that they have to take more responsibility of their own security in spite of the fact that they are members of NATO and have a lot of trust to NATO," he added.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had earlier echoed Trump's warnings that the new administration could moderate its commitment to NATO if members failed to increase their spending at a meeting in Brussels on Friday.

However, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker responded to urge countries in Europe to resist pressure from the U.S. to spend more on defense, according to a Reuters report.

Niinistö confirmed Finland has pledged an additional 55 million euros to improve troop readiness from 2018. The Nordic country is not a member of the NATO alliance but does have compulsory service.

Combination of external threats

Finland's President dismissed the notion that Russia's President Vladimir Putin was the major external threat to the continent and instead described a combination of risks moving forwards.

"It's a combination… it is terrorism and migration and also Russia (with) what happened in Crimea in Ukraine," he said.

"Surely we hope that those discussions between the United States and Russia go on and if they go on respecting the international laws (and) the international order that would be (a) good thing… but they should go further on that path," Niinistö concluded.