President Klaus Iohannis welcomed NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace early on Thursday morning. In a joint press statement, the two officials emphasised that this is an important event as the missile defence shield at Deveselu was being activated and underscored that the shield is defensive in nature and does not represent a threat for Russia. In what concerns the threats voiced from Moscow, Stoltenberg emphasised that “NATO solemnly commits itself to ensuring Romania’s security now and in the future.”
“It is a very important day to us all. It is the day when the Deveselu [ballistic missile defence shield] is inaugurated and, moreover, I am glad that we have met and we can thoroughly discuss our common projects, particularly the upcoming [NATO] summit in Warsaw. I am positive we shall find common points of view,” Iohannis said at the beginning of the meeting.
President Klaus Iohannis also said that the ballistic missile defence shield at Deveselu is not targeted against any state, pointing out that it has a strictly defensive role.
“Your presence in Romania, Mr Stoltenberg, reflects the importance which the North Atlantic Alliance attaches to our country. (…) I highly commended Secretary General Stoltenberg’s participation in the inauguration ceremony of the missile defence facility at Deveselu today [Thursday], which marks both the strengthening of cooperation in respect to the Strategic Partnership between Romanian and the US, and Romania’s profile within NATO in the perspective of integrating this facility with NATO’s missile defence system,” said Iohannis.
In his opinion, “the missile defence system makes both Romania and Europe safer.”
“This system at Deveselu has strictly defensive capabilities, it is not directed against any state, it cannot be used offensively. This system is part of the 28 for 28 logic, it is clear – each member protects each member, the 360-degree approach, as NATO must be prepared to face all challenges, all risks. We are not talking about Russia here. We know Russia uses the occasion to be very vocal, but they know as much as we do that the system isn’t in any way directed against Russia; however, NATO must be prepared to deal with other incidents, coming from another area, from outside the Euro-Atlantic space. I expect the other elements of the missile defence system to be set up – the next one in Poland – to deal very well with some threats of this kind,” Iohannis added.
He reiterated support for declaring the initial operational capability of NATO’s missile defence system at an upcoming summit in Warsaw, as well as for increasing NATO’s part in counteracting the new risks in areas such as cyber defence, fight against terrorism and energy security.
The head of state underscored that Romania remains a trustworthy partner, actively involved in adopting and implementing NATO decisions, showing that Romania’s actions constantly prove it.
“Romania fully meets its commitments pledged at the NATO Summit in Wales, which proves we are a credible ally. Proof in this respect is the honoured promise to increase our defence spending to 2 percent of the GDP next year,” Iohannis said.
He also showed that it is important to ensure a credible and predictable presence of NATO forces on the eastern flank and achieving a balance between the northern dimension and the southern dimension of the flank. “In the same context, we want the establishment of a permanent NATO naval force in the Black Sea – certainly with the observance of the provisions of the Montreux Convention. Moreover, I find opportune an agreement on a solution to conduct joint training of allied forces in the region,” said Iohannis.
He welcomed the latest progress with strengthening NATO’s role in combating hybrid threats and voiced hope that the Alliance will reach a comprehensive approach in the area to complete the efforts made in the EU.
President Klaus Iohannis also said on Thursday that given Russia’s actions, there will be a forward NATO presence on NATO’s eastern flank.
“These actions, which are announced and prepared in Russia, are some of the reasons determining us to ask NATO for a balanced approach in its eastern flank, when we talk about the northern part, where we have Poland and the Baltic states, and the southern part, where we have Romania and Bulgaria. This flank obviously needs a balanced approach, meaning that we shall have a forward presence of NATO forces in the northern part of the eastern flank, but this is also necessary in the southern part of the eastern flank. This doesn’t mean that we shall have, as we did in the Cold War, tens or hundreds of thousands of servicemen stationed on this flank; however, in our opinion, a forward presence of NATO forces is needed, for instance through joint military exercises. We have many such exercises, we want more,” Iohannis said, referring to an announcement made by the Russian Federation that it was sending three additional brigades at the border with NATO.
The Romanian head of state mentioned it also suggested a standing naval force in the Black Sea.
“In the same logic, we want – and we proposed it – to have a standing naval presence in the Black Sea, which will definitely start with the riparian countries, meaning us, the Bulgarians and the Turks, but which in the long run can integrate with NATO’s approach to the southern part of the eastern flank,” said Iohannis.
NATO’s Stoltenberg: Romania – committed ally; NATO has a solemn commitment to Romania’s security
In Bucharest on Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg pointed out that Romania is a committed NATO ally and that NATO has a solemn commitment to Romania’s security.
“Romania is a very committed and staunch Ally which has contributed over many years to our collective defence and our shared security and I thank you for the strong and important Romanian commitments and contributions to NATO (…) and NATO has a solemn commitment to Romania’s security. Now and for the future,” Stoltenberg told a joint news conference with President Iohannis at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace.
He added that Romania also makes an important contribution to NATO’s Ballistic Missile Defence system, by hosting an Aegis Ashore site in Deveselu, which helps protect European Allies against missile threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area.
“Romania also plays a constructive role in ensuring stability in the Black Sea region, which is important for our security,” said Stoltenberg.
The NATO Secretary General said NATO has responded decisively to a changed and more challenging security environment.
“We have increased our presence in the eastern part of our Alliance, including here in Romania. Romania hosts a new small headquarters, here in Bucharest, which I visited together with you last year. And you have activated the Multinational Division South-East Headquarters, which is now being tested. And I’m looking forward to visiting these Headquarters later on this morning. Both headquarters will boost our ability to plan and exercise, and to reinforce if needed. Not to threaten anyone but to protect our nations.”
Stoltenberg said NATO will keep channels of dialogue open with Russia.
“Especially in times of tension, transparency and predictability are important to reduce risks of miscalculations and accidents,” he said.
Also, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday that the North Atlantic Alliance is making efforts for a more constructive relation with Russia, but he underscored that the increased presence of Russian forces at NATO’s borders enhance the risks of miscalculations and incidents.
After the meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Stoltenberg said that information about the Russian divisions has been present for some time, revealing a more assertive Russia, a massive build-up of Russian forces, the modernisation of offensive systems, more frequent military exercises carried out closer to NATO’s borders, and, most importantly, a Russia willing to resort to military force to change borders in Europe, illegally annexing Crimea and destabilising the east of Ukraine. Consequently, he said, NATO reacted by implementing the largest increase in its collective defence since the Cold War.
He pointed out that NATO has an increased presence on its eastern flank, with forces and capabilities, as a reaction to Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine, since such a long-term behaviour must generate a reaction; he explained that the Alliance’s actions are defensive, in accordance with its international obligations. He added that NATO does not want a confrontation with Russia, a new Cold War, and it will continue to make efforts for a more constructive relation with Russia. According to Stoltenberg, NATO does not see any contradiction between a strong defence, a predictable and firm behaviour on NATO’s part and wanting a transparent dialogue and the reduction of risks, as the increased presence at NATO’s borders increases the risks of accidents and incidents. He mentioned for instance the downing of a Russian aircraft by Turkey, an incident in the Baltic Sea and unsafe behaviour on the part of Russian planes towards U.S. ships and planes. He added that the combination of strength and political engagement is needed.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also said Thursday in Bucharest that NATO asked Romania to make NATO Multinational Division Southeast Headquarters fully deployable by 2022, but Romania can do it ahead of schedule, by 2018.
“This headquarters is an important part of that effort. It will be a hub for regional cooperation and for exercises, such as “Dacian Lynx”, which is running this week (…) This is yet another demonstration of Romania’s unwavering commitment to boosting the strength of our Alliance,” Stoltenberg said in remarks at the NATO Multinational Division Southeast Headquarters.
He explained that it gives NATO military commanders a valuable option for commanding NATO forces across South Eastern Europe.
“When Allies first called upon Romania to provide this headquarters, we asked for it to be fully deployable by 2022. Instead, it will meet that goal by 2018, fully four years ahead of schedule. This is yet another demonstration of Romania’s unwavering commitment to boosting the strength of our Alliance.”
Stoltenberg said the NATO Multinational Division Southeast Headquarters is NATO’s response to security challenges and dangers.
“Europe’s security environment is more challenging than it has been for decades. With violence and instability across North Africa and the Middle East, and an assertive Russia, responsible for aggressive actions in Ukraine.”
He said that NATO is responding.
“We have implemented the largest increase in our collective defence since the Cold War. And we will continue to do what it takes to keep our people safe,” said Stoltenberg.
Stoltenberg hailed Romania’s commitment to increase defence spending to 2 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which shows Romania is following up on its commitments.
“That is a very welcome step in the right direction. And I encourage you to continue on that road, because the protection of our citizens is paramount. We must have all the resources and capabilities to keep our citizens safe in a more dangerous world,” said the NATO official.
Stoltenberg added that Romania is also playing a key part in projecting stability beyond NATO borders, in Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine. “You make a great contribution to our Trust Fund on Cyber Defence for Ukraine. That shows real leadership,” he said.
“You have also shown continued commitment to our missions in Kosovo and in Afghanistan. Our mission to train the Afghan forces remains challenging and it comes at a high cost. I pay tribute to the two Romanian officers who were recently killed in Kandahar in the service of their duties. And I wish their wounded colleague a speedy recovery,” said Stoltenberg.
Iohannis: We are concerned about situation in Moldova, Ukraine; viable solutions, political not military
President Klaus Iohannis said Thursday that Romania is concerned about the situation in Ukraine and Romania, adding that political instead of military solutions are the viable solutions.
“Romania will continue to be a security provider in its geographical region, a pole of stability at the eastern end of the Euro-Atlantic space, which is subjected to challenges and threats. From this point of view, Romania is concerned about the situation in Ukraine and Moldova. The only viable solutions are political, not military. That is a problem of shared interest to NATO and the European Union and more reason for consolidating the strategic partnership between the two organisations,” Iohannis told a joint news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
He added that the situation in NATO’s eastern neighbourhood continues to be volatile and the resolution of the Ukrainian file is difficult amidst a partial and deficient implementation of the Minsk II Accord.
He said the crisis in Syria and instability in the Middle East and Northern Africa have favoured the ISIL/Daesh expansion to Europe.
“The NATO summit in Warsaw will be a key moment in the history of NATO and essential to the continuation of NATO’s adaptation to consolidate collective security and defence after the implementation of the action plan to increase NATO’s operational capabilities, agreed upon at the 2014 NATO summit in Wales,” said Iohannis.
He told Stoltenberg that Romania continues its support for NATO’s open-door policy and actual results in relation to Montenegro as well as other NATO aspiring members.
“About Moldova, we hailed NATO’s approaches for the consolidation of the defence capabilities. I reaffirmed Romania’s support for Ukraine, including the NATO-Ukraine Cyber Defence Trust Fund, of which Romania is a leading nation. I believe support for the eastern partners should enjoy increased attention on the NATO agenda, because their security will impact the Euro-Atlantic security environment as well,” said Iohannis.