President Klaus Iohannis unveiled to the Parliament on Monday the National Defence Strategy of Romania called ‘Powerful Romania in Europe and the World’, underscoring the document is a “declaration” Romania is making.
“The National Defence Strategy is the president of Romania’s legal obligation. This document, however, is not and must not be an act of will of a person or some institutions. The National Defence Strategy is much more than that. It is a declaration Romania is making. It seeks to answer certain needs and expectations and it targets the state, the society and citizen alike. By its objectives and content, the National Defence Strategy relates, in fact, the defence and national security as a whole and the two concepts go together”, Iohannis told a plenary sitting of the legislature.
“The process of drawing up and completing the Strategy included the consultation with specialists and representatives of the institutions having tasks in this sector, the civil society, the academic circles and the political parties”, the head of state underscored.
He stressed that powerful Romania in Europe and the world is the future and the vision set at the foundation of the National Defence Strategy.
“Powerful Romania is a nation of citizens whose rights and freedoms are defended. A powerful state respects and protects its citizens. It is by no accident that we have included among the national security interests ‘the protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of all citizens and the guarantee of their safety’,” the president said.
“The consolidation of the strategic partnership with the United States of America, the strengthened profile of Romania in NATO and the EU, deeper cooperation with the neighbouring states and the states at NATO’s Eastern flank and boosting the regional cooperation are among the national security objectives that the Strategy asserts. The main guarantor of Romania’s security is the North Atlantic Alliance. Romania, in turn, is powerful in a powerful North Atlantic Alliance and in a powerful European Union. The pledge made by all the political parties to increase the defence budget up to 2 percent by 2017 is the signal that Romania understands the requirements of the moment and takes upon itself the responsibility of being a security provider, not only a beneficiary, a country that projects security and stability in the area. Besides our being a NATO member, we must prove that we have the required capabilities to participate in collective defence”, he pointed out.
Iohannis explained that the National Defence Strategy brings several novelties, among which an extended national security concept.
“Besides the elements relating defence, public order or the intelligence and counter-intelligence activity, security can no longer be separated from a competitive economic environment, from financial-budgetary stability, from the existence of public systems – education, health, pensions – that should be functioning and adjusted to the changes, from the protection of the critical infrastructures or the capability of responding to environmental problems. This is the time to build political consensus around these crucial matters in the period ahead, a political consensus that should really produce reform and long-lasting legislation”, he said.
The Romanian leader underscored the Strategy must be followed by other documents: “This National Defence Strategy is the beginning, not the end of a process. It will have to be followed by other fundamental documents, ranging from the White Defence Paper to the other sectorial strategies and its implementation on all dimensions will have to be watched. A vital role in this process will be played by the integrated planning and the capability of the concerned institutions to work in a coordinated manner. I insist on this matter – institutional cooperation. Romania cannot afford that each institution should have its individual strategy and planning or its own allotment of resources in a separate manner from the other institutions and without unified conception on a national level”.
Parliament vote on National Defence Strategy postponed to Tuesday
The National Defence Strategy was sent to Parliament by President Klaus Iohannis on 12 June and, on Wednesday, the specialised Committees of Parliament unanimously adopted the document. Their report will be voted on by the Parliament on Tuesday.
Initially, the vote was going to happen still on Monday, after the president’s address, but the Standing Bureaus postponed it to Tuesday at 13:00.
The National Defence Strategy for 2015 – 2019, with the headline ‘A strong Romania and Europe and in the world’, has four chapters: ‘Defining national security interests and objectives’, ‘Assessment of the international security environment’, ‘Threats, risks and vulnerabilities’, ‘Lines of actions and main ways of ensuring national security of Romania’.
On June 10, the Supreme Council for Country’s Defence (CSAT) decided to promote the National Strategy titled ‘A Strong Romania in Europe and in the World’ in Parliament to have it adopted, the concept of extended security being one of the main new items in the document.
‘I conceived this strategy as an integrating document that will provide a vision and a direction for our national security. My vision is to have a strong Romania in Europe and in the world, which implies at least three things: a state that defends its citizens, regardless where they are, a state that defends its values, interests, symbols, but also its national assets and resources, a state that knows how to protect its heritage, its fields of excellence, a state that knows education and health should be regarded as priorities and, thirdly, a state that will contribute to the maintaining of the collective defence alongside its partners and will promote democracy and freedom,’ said Klaus Iohannis on June 10, while also adding that the strategy reasserts the major role of the Strategic Partnership with the United States and of the NATO and EU membership in the country’s foreign and security policy.
On June 12, the head of state sent the National Defence Strategy to Parliament.
Moreover, Klaus Iohannis asked the Senate Speaker, Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, and the Deputies’ Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea to deliver his message to Parliament referring to the Strategy.
The defence committees of the Deputies’ Chamber and the Senate on June 17 gave their approval for the National Defence Strategy.
The head of state held consultations with the political and parliamentary parties in early June.
The Strategy was also presented to the representatives of the diplomatic corps in the NATO and EU members states over the last couple of days.
The defence committees of the Parliament, the representatives of the civil society, academic environment and institutions operating in the national security field were also consulted in the process of drafting of the National Defence Strategy.
Senate Speaker: ‘Foreign Affairs Committees should be notified to prepare report’
The Speaker of the Senate said on Monday that the National Defence Strategy ‘cannot go through Parliament at absolute, sound speed’.
‘The Defence Committees presented their position extremely speedily, however, the document addresses much broader areas (…) It is a political paper and the Defence Strategy is prepared together with our partners, both NATO and the EU. At least the Foreign Affairs Committees should have been notified in order to prepare a report. (…) This is the position I will defend in the Standing Bureau meeting and we will see how we deal with this from now on’, Tariceanu explained.
The co-president of the Liberal and Democratic Alliance (ALDE), Calin Popescu Tariceanu, announced on Sunday that he would propose to the parliamentary groups of the party to vote against the current text of the National Defence Strategy received from President Klaus Iohannis. His reason is that, after carefully reading the paper, he spotted formulations and lines of actions that bluntly violate relevant constitutional provisions.
Previously, during the joint meeting of the Standing Bureaus of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies of 15 June, Tariceanu pointed out that the Defence Strategy included a set of principles imported from ex-President Traian Basescu, voiding of content the activity of the Government, actually marking a shift to a presidential republic.
According to transcripts obtained by Adevarul, capturing a discussion Calin Popescu Tariceanu was having with the leader of the PSD political group in the Senate, Ilie Sarbu, on 15 June, the two were criticising the president’s plan, calling it badly made. One thing they appreciated however, according to the transcript of their conversation – whilst lacking in substance, the strategy nonetheless exists.
‘The only good thing is that the current president nonetheless came up with a strategy. Well, the advisers wrote it, as I don’t imagine that he sat down to write about… But it’s badly made. I wonder how it was sanctioned by… I’m not sure it’s been through other bodies. But the previous one was not doing it at all. He didn’t produce one strategy in ten years. At least this is a good thing’, Ilie Sarbu said.
Ex-president Traian Basescu: ‘It’s a mistake to introduce these areas to the defence strategy’
Areas such as education, culture or environment were not in the National Defence Strategy and their introduction to the new law is a mistake, says ex-President Traian Basescu.
‘Any strategy developed at Cotroceni has its targets and one of them is, due to the Constitution, to try and regulate power relations between the president and prime-minister, president and Parliament. This is what Mr. Iohannis may be doing with the new Strategy’, Basescu said on B1 TV on Sunday.
He added that it would make relevant ministers report to the president. ‘In the propositions of agenda, the president introduces points pertaining to culture, but this already seems ridiculous. It is a mistake to introduce these areas to the defence strategy. I can guarantee to you that the strategy was written by the advisers and Iohannis didn’t really read it. (…) It’s questionable how much power it gives you, but it definitely subordinates to you (the ministers in charge of those fields – editor’s note) on topics in the strategy’, Basescu also said.