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April 19, 2021
DEFENCE

Presidential aide Bogdan Aurescu: U.S. firmly supports joint Black Sea fleet

Presidential aide Bogdan Aurescu has emphasised that the United States firmly supports a joint Black Sea fleet. “Following talks I had in Washington last week, I again noticed that the American side firmly supports this project, with the support of other important allies coming in addition to it. The official name is “Naval Framework for NATO Training and Drills in the Black Sea,”” the Presidential aide stated.

Presidential aide Bogdan Aurescu offered more clarifications about the joint Black Sea fleet as a measure meant to strengthen NATO’s Eastern Flank.

The plan, proposed by Romania and strongly backed by the U.S., will be included in the final declaration of the Warsaw Summit. Nevertheless, the Presidential aide said that first of all it is wrong to talk about a joint Black Sea fleet because we are not talking “about a naval taskforce that would patrol and carry out who knows what kind of provocative activities.” The official name is “Naval Framework for NATO Training and Drills in the Black Sea.” However, whether we embellish it with diplomatic nuances or not, we are essentially talking about the same objective: NATO maritime presence in the southern part of the Eastern Flank, in response to permanent threats from the East.

 

On Warsaw Summit

 

“Firstly, it’s a very important summit. On one hand, it seeks to ensure a series of elements of continuity with the previous summit in the United Kingdom, in September 2014. Secondly, we are talking about a series of new measures that consecrate the continuation of the process of adapting the Alliance to the very complex security environment we are seeing in NATO’s eastern and southern proximity. Thirdly, in close connection with these two objectives, we sought to impart on the Black Sea, as a region, a stronger Euro-Atlantic security profile. We sought to prove to allies that we are capable of taking on that commitment we took at the Summit in the United Kingdom: that of reaching the target of 2 percent of GDP for defence, an issue that is very important from the point of view of the example we are giving to other allies too. There aren’t many allies that reach this 2 percent level.”

“Another objective undoubtedly concerns the ballistic missile defence system. Romania has played an important role in the development of this system, through the commissioning of the army base in Deveselu and of the ballistic missile defence facility located there. With the full operationalisation of the ballistic missile defence facility – marked by the May 12 ceremony which was also attended by the NATO Secretary General, we are entering a new stage in the development of the ballistic missile defence system. What we are seeking in Warsaw is to obtain the declaration of initial capability of the NATO missile defence system. We are talking about the second phase of the development of the system, because the first phase started in Chicago, at the 2012 Summit, when the interim capability of the ballistic missile defence system was declared,” the ex-foreign minister stated for ‘Adevarul’ daily.

“We are happy to note that the summit’s agenda includes an important initiative that Romania came up with last year, namely that of projecting stability. Last year, in Antalya, in May, as a Foreign Minister, I proposed an initiative to draft a two-pronged NATO strategy: for the East and for the South. And this objective of the Romanian side is becoming reality, other aspects that we sought throughout time coming in addition to it: those that refer to the strengthening of cybersecurity. The cyber domain will be declared an operational domain for NATO at the Summit in Warsaw. Apart from this, we can also talk about objectives that have to do with the open door policy because Montenegro is joining NATO, as a result of the support that Romania offered too. After it signed the accession protocol, Montenegro is taking part in this Summit as a guest,” Aurescu added.

 

On the Black Sea Fleet

 

“It has to be said from the start that there wasn’t a project about a fleet, meaning an integrated NATO naval taskforce that would have patrolled the Black Sea and carried out who knows what provocative actions. On the contrary. What the Romanian side proposed from the start – and talked with the Bulgarian and Turkish partners – was a project that entails a naval framework for drills and training in order to enhance interoperability first of all between riparian allies but also with other allies who are bringing naval assets to the Black Sea, while respecting the Montreux Convention – which limits to 21 days the involvement of warships of non-riparian states in various activities in the Black Sea – so that we would have an enhanced NATO maritime presence in the Black Sea. It has to be said here that this project enjoyed strong support from our American allies.”

“It’s a project that enjoys allied support and which, despite the opposition expressed through a series of contradictory statements made by some Bulgarian officials, continues to be on the allied agenda, including for the reason that there is already a NATO decision in this sense.”

“This NATO decision was taken by Defence Ministers at the ministerial summit on June 13-14, a decision that entails that NATO’s military authorities should present, by September 30, a package of measures on boosting NATO’s maritime presence in the Eastern Flank’s southern area. Likewise, I can tell you that, following the talks I had in Washington last week, I again noticed that the American side firmly supports this project, the support of other important allies coming in addition to it.”

“United Kingdom, France and others who have contributed naval assets in the Black Sea. In fact, in the last two years we can notice a rise, an intensification of naval presence in the Black Sea for such drills. But a naval framework of cooperation for training and drills would represent an institutionalised, integrated framework. Thus, by September 30 we will know exactly who supports this project. Yes, the purpose being to discuss this package of measures at the NATO Defence Ministers’ Summit in October. This aspect will obviously be discussed in Warsaw and will be included, in one form or another, in the Summit’s final declaration,” Bogdan Aurescu added in his interview for ‘Adevarul’ daily.

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