B9 Defence Ministers meeting in Bucharest. DefMin Fifor: NATO Eastern flank’s states share same concerns, from risks, threats’ view

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The states on the NATO Eastern flank share several same and particular concerns, from the view of perceiving risks and threats to security, on Tuesday said the Defence Minister Mihai Fifor, in the opening of the Defence ministers’ reunion with the countries participating in “Bucharest 9 Initiative” (B9) which takes places in Romania’s capital city.

The B9 reunion in Bucharest is attended by the Defence ministers from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, alongside NATO officials and the US Department of Defence.

“From where we stand, the convergence of the national approaches on current topics of security and defence of the Euro-Atlantic area, implies a more applied cooperation’s development, including by capitalising on the various multinational formats. In this respect, considering that the NATO Eastern flank’s states share a series of common and particular concerns, from the angle of perceiving risks and threats to security, we find the debate of these topics in B9 format useful, as a preparation and clotting stage of the national positions with a view to defining a joint vision at NATO level, on the occasion of this year’s July summit due in Brussels,” the Minister said.

Mihai Fifor added that this will prove the unity and coherence of the Eastern allied flank.

He stressed that the Tuesday reunion will tackle aspects on the current risks and threats to security, and also progresses recorded with regard to the implementation of the decisions made at the Warsaw NATO summit in 2016.

In his turn, the Polish Defence minister Mariusz Blaszczak voiced his satisfaction with the fact that the decisions made in Warsaw in 2016 are being implemented, adding that Russia’s actions determine an increased attention granted to security.

As we all know, Russia’s activities make us grant enhanced attention to security. I’m glad that more and more countries allocate 2pct of the GDP for Defence. This is what Poland does. A bill adopted in the Polish Parliament explicitly says that starting with 2030 we shall spend 2.5pct of the GDP for Defence. Moreover, we are upgrading our army and buying modern equipment. (…) This is not only about our countries’ security, it is about the Europe’s and the free world’s,” the Polish minister stressed.

 

DefMin Fifor wants to make Multinational Brigade in Craiova operational by end of 2018

 

National Defence Minister Mihai Fifor told a joint news conference on Tuesday with his Polish counterpart Mariusz Blaszczak that he wants to make the Multinational Brigade in Craiova operational by the end of 2018.

“We want that, together with our allies and, certainly together with Poland – that offers us a substantial support – to make the Multinational Brigade in Craiova operational by the end of this year. I take this opportunity to thank my Polish counterpart for all the support that he offers to the Multinational Brigade in Craiova,” Fifor told the news conference occasioned by the Bucharest 9 Initiative defence ministers’ meeting.

He added that the Polish Minister will be in Craiova throughout the day, where he is to meet Polish servicemen. Fifor reiterated the wish that within the Multinational Brigade, the troops presence be made after the Polish model, namely in a rotating manner.

“Romania has repeatedly requested an allied military presence on its soil and the fact that I was talking about the operationalisation of the Multinational Brigade in Craiova means, among other, this thing, too: the affiliation to the Multinational Brigade of as many countries as possible so that we can have here a multifunctional brigade, in the true meaning of the word, not only while it’s peace. On the other hand, as it is known, US troops are in Romania and at each meeting that I’ve had with US Secretary of Defence James Mattis, I requested that the US troops’ presence in Romania be made after the Polish model, namely in a rotational manner, but for a longer period of time. We continue to carry out demarches in this regard, because for Romania is important both the US presence and that of other states, through the affiliation to the Multinational Brigade, but also by participating in the drills we conduct each year,” the Romanian official stated.

In the context of the Bucharest (B9) Format Defence Ministers’ meeting Mihai Fifor underscored the importance of coordination and correlation on the eastern flank, mentioning that this aspect was highlighted in the works of the meeting in Bucharest.

“On an ally level, we are in full process of preparing the future summit. Today, the advanced allied presence materialised on the entire eastern flank of the Alliance, both in north-east, the Baltic area, and in the south-east, on the national territory and the Black Sea. We continue to mainly focus on its implementation and, in this context, we await in July, important decisions, relevant for the allied defence and deterrence posture. Romania, just as Poland, has an important involvement in negotiations and we want to be an active actor, an important player at the table of big decisions, through promoting our own security interest, mainly related to the adaptation measures such as increasing the deterrence profile on the eastern flank,” he mentioned.

Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak showed that a Romanian-Polish collaboration, namely among the largest states on the eastern flank of NATO, represents a key in view of a wider cooperation.

“We are very delighted to see the Romanian forces in Poland and we try to endorse Romania through our presence here. (…) Enforcing the decisions taken at the NATO Summit in Warsaw is being properly done. We want that NATO response against challenges be as precisely and complete as possible. We want that NATO’s adaptation to threats be as good as possible. And threats are present – everyone knows it very well, everyone can identify them – and we are in agreement on how to counter them,” he said.

 

Romania’s DefMin: 40 percent of last year’s 2 percent Defence allocation directed to Army endowment spending

 

Minister of National Defence Mihai Fifor said on Tuesday that this is the second year when Romania allocates 2 percent of GDP for Defence and of this amount, about 40 percent was spent last year for the Army’s endowment.

Romania is in the second consecutive year when 2 percent [of GDP] has been allocated to Defence; last year Romania spent about 40 percent of this 2 percent chunk alone for the Army’s endowment. Technically, Romania meets all three NATO requirements, specifically the 2 percent allocation, achievement of capabilities and the presence in the theaters of operation, having more than 700 troops deployed thereto, Fifor told a joint press conference delivered with his Polish counterpart Mariusz Blaszczak, occasioned by the meeting of the Defence ministers of the countries which are part of the Bucharest 9 Initiative (B9).

Mihai Fifor said that Romania has all the interest in a considerable share of the money allocated for endowment returning to the national defence industry.

As far as offset is concerned, Romania has all the interest that much of the 2 percent allocation to the Armed Forces, or of the 40 percent assigned last year strictly for endowment, returns to the national defence industry. After all, I’ve said it every time, Romania didn’t go out shopping, Romania wants to give the national defence industry a new lease of life and this is done through industrial cooperation, through technology transfer, through the offset we are talking about. … Romania has projects that generate offset for the country, for example the armored carriers contract with General Dynamics is an offset vector. The Bucharest Mechanical Plant will be upgraded on this money and that’s not all. We also kicked off the program for the four multi-role corvettes, and the offset package will help modernize the two frigates of the Romanian Navy purchased from the UK, Fifor explained, adding that other programs too will generate offset to the national defence industry.

In his turn, Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said that his country allocates 2 percent of GDP for defence and 20 percent of the amount is earmarked for upgrade projects. He added that Poland wants increased mobility among Eastern flank countries, which is why it is attentively looking at the Via Carpatia expressway project which will connect the Baltic states to Romania and Bulgaria and will run down to Greece.

This is an important route that will allow for rapid cooperation and rapid response in the event of a threat, Blaszczak said.

 

Senate Chairman welcomes heads of delegations participating in 1st B9 defence ministers’ meeting

 

Senate Chairman Calin Popescu-Tariceanu on Tuesday welcomed the heads of the delegations participating in the first Bucharest (B9) Format Defence Ministers’ meeting hosted by Bucharest.

According to a Senate release, on this occasion Tariceanu reiterated “the importance of the joint promotion of some convergent and unitary approaches of the states at the eastern border of NATO, meant to keep on the Alliance’s agenda the need for further strengthening the deterrence and defence capacities on the eastern flank, for ensuring the security of the entire Euro-Atlantic space.”

The Senate President hailed the organisation in Bucharest of the first meeting of defence ministers from states of the eastern flank of the North Atlantic Alliance, which will tackle aspects on the current risks and threats against security, the progress registered in implementing the Warsaw Summit (2016) decisions, as well as priority aspects of the security matter in the preparation of the next allied summit, to be held in Brussels, in July 2018.

Moreover, Tariceanu appreciated that enlarging in 2018 the Bucharest Format (B9) with a component of the executive pillar, by organising the first defence ministers’ meeting (Bucharest, March 13 – 14 this year), as well as with a parliamentary pillar, by organising the first Parliamentary Summit (Bucharest, April 17 – 19 this year), prove the importance that the countries in NATO’s eastern flank grant to this consultation platform after the Russian Federation illegally annexed Crimea, in 2014.

 

Chairman Tariceanu after meeting B9 defence ministers: Defence policies need coordination, harmonisation

 

Senate Chairman Calin Popescu-Tariceanu said on Tuesday that the meeting he had with defence ministers from the Bucharest 9 (B9) cooperation format dealt with defence and security issues, taking into account the “the challenges faced by NATO’s eastern flank countries.”

“The invasion of Crimea in 2014 has made Russia’s threat even more topical, more acute, although it would probably have been useful for us to take seriously the previous signals given by Russia with the invasion of Georgia in 2008. But back then the countries of the EU and NATO did not, in my opinion, have a proper response. It followed after the Crimean annexation with some delay, but it is good that these steps have been taken and, as you know, at the Warsaw Summit, in July 2016, a decision was made to create this NATO-advanced presence in our countries; yet, as far as the NATO member countries on the eastern flank are concerned, coordination and harmonisation of their defence policies are needed, whether it is about mobility or interoperability, which are key elements in a logic of high performance, of being as effective as possible,” said Tariceanu after meeting Bucharest 9 (B9) Initiative defence ministers.

 

He added that other issues that were discussed during the meeting regarded military, industrial, military, economic, infrastructure cooperation, “which should be considered in order to make our armies a force as efficient as possible in case of potential aggressions. ”

 

Tariceanu went on to say that he looks forward to the mid-April summit, which will be the “parliamentary pillar of this format in which Romania starts to look like a country able to take foreign policy initiatives and become a leader in the region, in different areas.”

“I welcomed a delegation of the B9 defence ministers. This was an important meeting organised by the Minister of Defence, Mr Mihai Fifor, and his Polish counterpart, as part of the events that are unfolded this year. Next comes a summit of the chairs of the B9 parliaments, which I organise in Bucharest, together with my Polish counterpart,” said Tariceanu.

 

Speaker Dragnea: NATO membership, strategic partnership with US, security guarantees for Romania

 

NATO membership and strategic partnership with the United States are security guarantees for Romania, but at the same time there is need for consistency in national approaches to defence and national security, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Liviu Dragnea said Tuesday at the end of a meeting with heads of delegations from the Bucharest 9 Initiative format, as well as representatives of NATO, the US, including NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (DSACEUR) on the occasion of a Bucharest 9 Initiative defence ministers’ meeting.

“I met defence ministers from the B9 countries … (…) I told them what my views are on a few important topics for Romania. From our point of view, guarantees of our national security are NATO membership, that is NATO and a strategic partnership with the United States, and I also believe that NATO must have a much more consistent approach to strengthening its eastern flank, because we must understand that the eastern border of the European Union – which are the countries that are represented here today – is perhaps the most important area in NATO, taking into account the developments in the wider Black Sea region, Russia’s actions and what’s happening in our area. I also told our guests that there is need for consistency as regards national approaches to national defence and security and much more applied, more effective cooperation among the B9 countries,” said Dragnea.

According to him, Romania and Poland should play a very important role as decision makers.

“Taking into account the size of our countries and the contribution of our involvement in NATO actions on various theatres of war as well as our decision taken and implemented to allocate important amounts for defence spending, at least 2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Romania and Poland, in our opinion, have a very important role to play in the making of big decisions, because the Black Sea zone has become very important in recent times, a zone that involves risks for our country and for the countries in the eastern flank as well, and therefore we must be treated in the light of the new circumstances,” said Dragnea.

He pointed out that he had spoken with the officials attending the meeting in Bucharest about the fact that, because of sizeable defence spending allocations, the Romanian Armed Forces are undergoing a transformation, modernisation, renewal.

“Also, the Romanian defence industry is entering this process as well, because one of our main objectives is that most of the money allocated for acquisitions should be used in the Romanian defence industry. In fact, a large part of the military equipment which we buy should be manufactured here in Romania, which – with one or two exceptions – has begun to happen. As far as the Black Sea military equipment is concerned, we did not go into details. I voiced hope that the July summit would adopt a very clear, well-defined and coherent policy for the eastern flank. I do not think there is a plan sketched up for that yet. And I also told them that, as far as I am concerned, the PESCO [Permanent Structured Cooperation on security and defence] project is a good project. Indeed, the EU must have a well-defined defence structure, but I would not agree that this competes against NATO the United States, on the contrary. (…) The eastern flank must be prepared to cope with all types of challenges and threats, regardless of their type and origin. It is not just two countries; it needs a much broader approach,” said Dragnea.