German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer attends an annual wreath laying ceremony at the Neue Wache memorial to mark Remembrance Day in Berlin, Germany, Nov. 15, 2020.
German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer attends an annual wreath laying ceremony at the Neue Wache memorial to mark Remembrance Day in Berlin, Germany, Nov. 15, 2020.

Germany’s defense minister said Tuesday that while Germany and Europe must do more to ensure their own security, she believes they will not be able to provide for their own security without the help of the United States and NATO for decades to come.

Speaking Tuesday at a German military university in Hamburg, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said she agrees with the goal of European strategic autonomy, but believes the concept “goes too far if it nurtures the illusion that we could ensure Europe's security, stability and prosperity without NATO and the U.S."

In her remarks, the defense minister said Germany has always been dependent on its allies for “freedom, peace and a good life for the people in our country.”  She added, “Without America's nuclear and conventional capabilities, Germany and Europe cannot protect themselves. These are the sobering facts."

French President Emmanuel Macron recently insisted that the change of administrations in the U.S. should be used as an opportunity to pursue Europe's strategic independence, not backtrack on it.

Doubts over the future of Europe's post-World War II reliance on the United States were stoked in recent years by President Donald Trump's sharp criticism of Germany and other NATO allies for their low defense expenditures. European allies, France in particular, have said it was a sign that Europe had to ensure its own security more.

Kramp-Karrenbauer said she agrees and said Germany and France should be able to act autonomously and effectively, and “a strong partner for the U.S. on an equal level and not a protege in need of help.” 

 “Only if we take our own security seriously will America do so,” she said.