President Klaus Iohannis stated on Thursday that Romania has achieved two very important things at NATO’s Summit in Brussels, namely an operational command centre and the improvement of the multinational brigade’s statute.
“Ever since 2016, from the Warsaw summit, we have been trying to consolidate the Eastern Flank, our attempt was made alongside the others in the Eastern Flank. (…) This year, in this demarche of strengthening presence on the Eastern Flank, we have achieved two very important things: a three-star command centre – an operational command centre, in between the lowest tactical level and strategically the highest. We believe we will eventually have, when the centre is completed, around 400 officers from all NATO countries who want to be with us there. We have obtained an improvement, an upgrading of the multinational brigade statute that we set up, which has acquired a permanent statute,” the head of state told a press conference at the NATO seat.
Klaus Iohannis explained that as far as the operational command centre is concerned, bilateral talks will be held.
“We have a lot of work, as the people who are due to participate, the officers who will come to this command centre, are assigned based on bilateral discussions. We will further talk to each and every ally, we will present the opportunities and we believe that just as we have for example managed with the multinational brigade, in record time to have a very very good participation, we will also succeed with the command centre, but things are just getting started,” he showed.
According to the president, a third very important result has been that an entire NATO session was organised upon Romania’s initiative, namely the one dedicated to the Black Sea, also attended by Georgia and Ukraine.
“Overall, NATO’s posture was strengthened at this Summit. We have a series of beautiful results both as regards the command structures at NATO level in general, and as concerns the troops assigned and finally the money,” Klaus Iohannis affirmed.
“There isn’t a conflict within NATO, nor the danger of disbandment”
He declared on Thursday that there is no “conflict” within the North-Atlantic Alliance, highlighting that the allied countries have committed themselves to spending “a little more” in order to make NATO even stronger.
“There is no conflict, there are talks and I can say that these matters were brought into discussion by President Trump. President Trump has not initiated a conflict, he has told it as it is. NATO is united, unique, the strongest alliance the World has ever known, but together we pledged to spend a little more so that we can make NATO even stronger. We parted ways with the idea that NATO is the strongest alliance, unique, and that we will move forward together. But together we took the commitment to make NATO even stronger, including Germany,” President Klaus Iohannis said at the NATO headquarters.
He said that discussions on this topic will most likely continue at next year’s summit.
“Overall, NATO’s posture has been strengthened at this summit. In the end, the very special session – the money. You know that in 2014 it was decided that in principle national defence expenditures would stand at 2 percent of GDP in each country by 2024. Now the results are very different, and we are fairly far away from the 2014 moment. Romania has reached 2 percent. The U.S. is in the ballpark of 4 percent on defence. But there are also countries that spend barely 1 percent on defence. It was emphasised during the talks what we call burden sharing. Unfortunately, we all gave up on bilateral meetings. It was a fairly intense discussion and we have jointly decided to change the schedule on the spot. Only we, the allies, continued the schedule. We reached optimistic conclusions. Several allies that are far from 2 percent took the commitment to spend on defence. It was discussed, but without a decision being taken, to try to move beyond that, and probably at the next summits we will have an approach in which an attempt would be made to go above the 2 percent allocations,” Iohannis added.
Iohannis on earmarking more than 2 pc for defence: Security has no price
Referring to Romania earmarking more than 2 percent of GDP for defence in the future, the President said that “security has no price,” however this is a complicated discussion because the budget allocations for healthcare and education must also be considered.
Asked at the end of the NATO Summit on Thursday whether Romania will afford to earmark up to 4 percent of GDP for defence, President Klaus Iohannis answered: “I must say that security has no price, but expenditure is needed for that. Security doesn’t come about on its own, but, as I said before, Romania is not only a receiver of security but also provides security, so definitely at the right moment we will be open to expenditures on defence too. It’s a complicated discussion because healthcare, schools, also demand money, pensions, but we don’t want to be defenceless. Nothing has been decided yet, however we will continue the talks next year, when we will meet to celebrate 70 years of NATO.”
U.S. President Donald Trump stated that NATO countries should eventually earmark 4 percent of GDP for defence, suggesting a doubling of the 2 percent target previously set during the NATO Summit in Wales in 2014.
“Presidents have been trying unsuccessfully for years to get Germany and other rich NATO Nations to pay more toward their protection from Russia. They pay only a fraction of their cost. The U.S. pays tens of Billions of Dollars too much to subsidize Europe, and loses Big on Trade!”, President Trump wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
“On top of it all, Germany just started paying Russia, the country they want protection from (…) Not acceptable! All NATO Nations must meet their 2% commitment, and that must ultimately go to 4%!”
Against the backdrop of tense talks during the meeting of NATO Heads of State or Government, American President Donald Trump cancelled all bilateral meetings scheduled for Thursday, including the one with President Klaus Iohannis, these meetings set to take place on the margins of the summit.
“President Donald Trump should have left the summit and taken part in bilateral meetings. At the summit there were contradictory talks and he had to remain in the hall. The partner states were invited out and only the allies remained. The summit is continuing at this hour too, in Wednesday’s format (1+1),” official sources told MEDIAFAX.
The information that Donald Trump would meet Klaus Iohannis appeared on Thursday, including on the official timetable of the President, and was confirmed by the official delegation of the U.S. at the NATO Summit in Brussels.
Shortly after 11 a.m., when the meeting should have taken place, it was announced that the meeting was cancelled. The announcement regarding the meeting subsequently disappeared form the Romanian President’s official timetable too.
“I have told Allies Romania is to increase number of personnel in Afghanistan to 950-plus next year”
President Klaus Iohannis said on Thursday he had told NATO allies that Romania would increase the number of personnel in Afghanistan next year to over 950 servicemen, gendarmes and civilians.
“We pledged for the first time in the Country’s Supreme Defence Council and today I have told the Allies that we will increase the number of personnel in Afghanistan from the current 770 and some people, especially servicemen, to more than 950 next year, who will be military staff, gendarmes and civilians. It is a significant growth for Romania, but it happens under the conditions in which we have long understood and are convinced that NATO is not only about receiving security but also about giving security, about being a security factor in the region we are in,” Iohannis said after the North Atlantic Alliance Summit, held in Brussels.
He stressed that the presence of Romania and other allies in Afghanistan is taking place on the basis of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.
“We have understood our role, we are taking it seriously, and our soldiers are very much appreciated in Afghanistan, and I can say as President that I am proud of them,” Klaus Iohannis said.