Wolfgang Kubicki, deputy chairman of the Free Democratic Party (SPD), called for U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell to be expelled from Germany for repeatedly "interfering" with Germany's sovereignty, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.
Kubicki, a leader of Germany’s opposition, insisted Grenell’s recent behavior is more than enough justification for Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to remove him.
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"Any U.S. diplomat who acts like a high commissioner of an occupying power must learn that our tolerance also knows its limits," said Kubicki, after Grenell publicly criticized Germany’s military spending.
Carsten Schneider, the chief whip of the SPD, suggested the ambassador was acting like a “brat” and called him a “total diplomatic failure,” according to Financial Times. “With his repeated clumsy provocations Mr. Grenell is damaging the transatlantic relationship,” Shneider added.
Grenell sparked a similar controversy in June of 2018 when he told far-right website Breitbart that he wanted to “empower other conservatives throughout Europe” while serving as U.S. Ambassador to Germany.
In a measure that could anger U.S. President Donald Trump, Germany’s 2020 budget, proposed Monday, foresees a further increase in military spending in 2020 but does not provide a plan for how to reach the NATO target of spending 2 percent of economic output on defence.
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The ministry sources said military spending would rise by 2.1 billion euros over a previous plan for 2020, boosting the share of defence spending to 1.37 percent of gross domestic product from 1.25 percent in 2018 and 1.3 percent this year.
"That the German government would even be considering reducing its already unacceptable commitments to military readiness is a worrisome signal toGermany's 28 NATO allies," said U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell.
The military budget is slated to rise to 45.1 billion euros in 2020 from planned spending of 43.2 billion this year, a separate government source said.
However, the share of military spending would drop back to 1.25 percent in 2023, with any further spending increases to be negotiated year by year, the sources said. "We're taking it one step at a time," said one of the sources.
That leaves Germany well below the 2 percent target set by NATO members for 2024, and below the 1.5 percent share that Germany has pledged to meet by that date.
Reuters contributed to this report