Eastern NATO ally says Clinton trumps Trump on security
US Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton is better than her Republican rival Donald Trump on security for NATO allies, the Czech prime minister said Tuesday, echoing leaders of other alliance members in eastern Europe.
“Considering the pre-election statements made by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, from the point of view of guarantees for the allies, I see more security if Clinton is elected,” Bohuslav Sobotka told the Czech financial daily Hospodarskie Noviny (HN).
Clinton, a former US secretary of state, offers “a greater guarantee of maintaining trans-Atlantic cooperation,” Sobotka added.
Trump sparked ire last month among eastern NATO members who were ruled by Moscow during the Soviet era when he waffled on defending NATO partners, thus questioning a key security guarantee of the alliance.
Asked by the New York Times about Russian activities that have alarmed the Baltic nations, NATO’s newest members, Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing whether those nations “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”
“If they fulfil their obligations to us, the answer is yes,” he said.
A cornerstone of the 28-member trans-Atlantic alliance is its Article 5 commitment that an attack on one member state is an attack on all, a pledge invoked after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and led to NATO’s operation in Afghanistan.
Baltic presidents were quick to fire back at Trump at the time, with Lithuania’s Dalia Grybauskaite saying “its not necessary to interpret the words of presidential candidate Mr. Trump. We know the US will always be our most important partner.”
US Vice President Joe Biden remarked Tuesday in the Latvian capital Riga that he doubted whether Trump “even understands” what NATO’s Article 5 commitment to collective defence meant, insisting it was America’s “sacred honour” to fulfil it.
“I want to make it clear to all the people of the Baltic states –- we have pledged our sacred honour, the United States of America –- our sacred honour to the NATO treaty and to Article 5. We mean what we say,” Biden said, ahead of talks with the presidents of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.
“The concern that the United states is somehow disengaging from the region is simply not true.
“As a matter of fact our presence will be enhanced. The fact is there will be more NATO partners on the Russian border,” he said, referring to NATO’s July decision to deploy battalions from the UK, Germany and Canada in the Baltic states and Poland.
Hungary’s anti-migrant rightwing Prime Minister Viktor Orban became the first European leader to endorse the like-minded Trump last month, calling him a “better option” for the bloc than Clinton.