Romania has reached its goals at the recent NATO summit in Brussels, with the most important of them being hosting a three-star army corps NATO headquarters whose future architecture will be configured by this autumn, Romania’s Defence Minister Mihai Fifor said on Friday.
“There will be a command. Initially, we started from this idea of a three-star army corps headquarters that we had proposed in the NATO ministerial meeting at the beginning of this year. Once again, we are extremely glad because, because that was the most important objective we had at the summit. And thanks to the efforts of MApN [Defence Ministry] and MAE [Foreign Ministry] (…) thanks to the efforts of the teams, we managed to achieve this extremely important objective for Romania,” Fifor said at a news conference.
He explained that until the autumn the discussions on the command that Romania will host will be carried out at expert level.
“We are at the stage where until autumn we will discuss at expert level the architecture of this command, let’s say a three-star command, and in autumn we can present Romania’s proposal for the architecture of the command. I guess it is important the fact that Romania, through the presence of this three-star command, shows that it is indeed one of the most important players in this area of NATO, and that is why it is important to underline that was a very, very important objective for Romania,” said Fifor.
He mentioned that at this year’s NATO summit Romania had three major objectives to achieve.
“The first regarded Romania’s offer to host a NATO army corps headquarters on its national soil, the second to strengthen NATO forward presence across the entire eastern flank, including in our region, and the third, of course, approaching the Black Sea subject in a separate format, if you wish. That was perhaps the most difficult part to achieve, but finally a summit format dedicated to complex Black Sea programmes, a format that Ukraine and Georgia were invited to join, got on the agenda of the summit (…) I was saying that Romania achieved its objectives. I mean the first of these, mainly the willingness to operate a land command and control capacity at corps-level, which we find in the final declaration, something that Romania receives and, I say, rightly so, because that is how we show that Romania is a well-structured partner and ally with a highly established military presence,” said Fifor.
He also mentioned the strengthening of the NATO forward presence on the entire eastern flank. “We have always talked about a balanced approach of the eastern flank so that we have coherence on this flank. And at the NATO summit we said that we want full commissioning of the Craiova Multinational Brigade by the end of the year. Romania has got very substantive promises and we really hope that by the end of the year (…) the brigade will be fully operational (… ) I want to remind you that in the spring of this year we declared fully operational the multinational division as well. In other words, we show that Romania is also prepared in this respect to face any challenge in its region,” said Fifor.
He called “relevant” the Black Sea approach at the summit. “Romania is, if you like, the country that lies between the complicated Black Sea area and the rather complicated area of the Western Balkans. We are the main security and stability provider in this area, which was also reinforced at the NATO summit in Brussels,” said Fifor.
Romania is to continue 2 percent allocation to Defence
Romania will continue to allocate 2 percent of the GDP for Defence and it was pointed out at the NATO Summit in Brussels as being one of the five allied countries that has made this allocation for the second time in a row, National Defence Minister Mihai Fifor stated on Friday.
“Romania has been pointed out as being one of the five allied countries that have allocated for the second time round the 2 percent for the Gross Domestic Product for Defence. I remind you that it was a decision of Romania’s Parliament and Romania’s Government to allocate this year, too, the 2 percent to Defence, with over 40 percent allocated for the Army’s endowment, for the major endowment projects. I was saying it is a good thing for us the fact that we were pointed out, in the context of very substantial discussions about raising the 2 percent level, as convened at the NATO Summit in Wales. (…) I can wholeheartedly affirm that Romania will continue to allocate the 2 percent. It is a decision of Romania’s Parliament and Government to continue to carry out this allocation and to continue to further carry the major endowment programmes, but also modernisation of the Romanian Armed Forces,” Fifor told a press conference at the seat of the National Defence Ministry (MApN).
Asked why the previous year only 1.8 percent of the GDP was spent form the 2 percent allocation, the minister said: “It is a slight error and allow me to clarify it. Romania has allocated 2 percent of the GDP in 2017, the budget execution is indeed 1.8 percent, an issue we have also discussed at the NATO Summit. The US partners have approached this point by point. Romania was commended for the budget execution and for the fact that it is part of the five-country group to have currently allocated 2 percent of the GDP. In other words, there was one first year when, after many years of under-financing of the Romanian Army, the Government and Parliament have decided that we need to join the ranks of the states which allocate 2 percent and to fulfill the commitments assumed at the Summit in Wales, and here, we pursue this. This year, I have no doubt, we will close on 2 percent, as necessary,” Fifor underscored.
Further quizzed on the topic of the difference between the budget execution and allocation, he replied: “There have been elements which could not be achieved last year and prevented us from spending the entire amount.”
“We intend to acquire another five F16 warplanes from Portugal”
The Defence Ministry (MApN) intends to acquire another five F16 warplanes from Portugal to complete the squadron of 12 aircraft of this type that endow the Romanian Air Force and will promote a law in Parliament to continue this program, Minister of National Defence Mihai Fifor announced on Friday.
“A few days ago, the Secretary of State Mircea Dusa paid a visit to Portugal. He had there a discussion that I continued at the NATO Summit with the Portuguese partners, from whom we acquired the 12 F16 aircraft that endow the Romanian Air Force. We intend to buy five more such planes, in a first phase, also from our Portuguese colleagues, in order to have the F16 squadron complete, and we will discuss in the future on the 36 F16 aircraft that we want to buy for the Romanian Air Force,” Fifor told a press conference at the MApN headquarters.
Asked about the budget allocated for purchasing the F16 planes, the minister said: “We will talk about budget allocation when we are absolutely convinced that we can have these aircraft.”
“These are aircraft that we know, they are planes that interoperable with the ones we have bought so far from Portugal, but as far as the sum for these planes is concerned, we will discuss towards the year’s end when we intend to promote a law in Parliament to be able to continue the F16 program,” Fifor explained.
The minister specified that four of these planes would have simple controls and one double controls.
Air policing missions currently carried out by British partners using Typhoon aircraft
Fifor also said on Friday that air policing missions in the Romanian air space are currently being carried out by British forces using the Typhoon aircraft after MIG aircraft remained grounded after a tragedy at an aviation show one week previously.
“After last week’s tragedy at the aviation show, when we lost one of the best pilots of the Romanian Air Force, the MIG aircraft remained grounded during the investigation, according to the procedures. Air policing missions are currently being conducted by our British partners at the Mihail Kogalniceanu base using four Typhoon aircraft and, if necessary, we can provide the Hawks craft in the possession of the Romanian Air Forces,” Fifor said at a press conference at the Defence Ministry headquarters.
Asked whether Russian airplanes have lately forced Romania’s borders, Fifor replied: “I have to repeat what I said a while ago in an interview. These entries of the Romanian air space by Russian aircraft are frequent. The procedures are standard, are NATO procedures, because Romania is defending the NATO airspace and it is natural to do so. These are standard procedures, namely the air policing craft and the specific procedures.”
Defence Ministry: Allied decisions on defence taken at NATO Summit reflect in “substantial manner” national objectives
The allied decisions on defence taken at the NATO Summit in Brussels reflect in a “substantial manner” the national objectives, with emphasis on strengthening the allied presence on the Eastern Flank, including at the Black Sea, a press release issued on Thursday by the Defence Ministry (MApN) informs.
The quoted source informs that another important topic was the hosting of a NATO military corps command centre on the national territory, in order to strengthen the allied planning capacity in the Black Sea region.
Denmark, Estonia and Latvia have announced plans to strengthen command-control relations in the Baltic Sea region by setting up a new division headquarters, and Italy has offered to provide a similar headquarters in support of activities to the South of the Alliance, according to the MApN.
Minister of National Defence Mihai Fifor, attending the summit, presented to the defence ministers the national perspective on the coherence of the defence and deterrence posture and the process of adapting the North Atlantic Alliance to the new conditions of the security environment, in line with the tasks outlined in Warsaw in 2016 and the report of political-military assessments approved at the recently concluded NATO Summit.
According to the MApN, he also stressed the importance of coherent allied defence from an integrated, 360-degree perspective so that NATO can develop its responsiveness to threats of any kind. In this context, Minister Fifor pointed out that an important part of this process is the full implementation of the forward presence on the allied Eastern Flank, both in the northern and southern segments.
“It is absolutely necessary in the next period to discuss more consistently about the coherence of the defence and deterrence posture, so as to ensure that there are no strategic planning elements uncovered in the implementation of the forward presence on the entire allied Eastern Flank”, the Romanian defence minister told the working dinner with the allied defence ministers.
The NATO Summit provided the opportunity to intensify the Alliance’s debates on the security situation in the Black Sea region, together with Ukraine and Georgia, covering a range of concerns such as: the geostrategic importance of the region for the Euro-Atlantic security amid consolidation of Russia’s military capabilities in the region and the intensification of hybrid tactics, the press release also reads.
At the headquarters of the Alliance, Minister Mihai Fifor had a very good exchange of views with US Defense Secretary James Mattis on the importance of implementing the decisions taken at the NATO Summit, including the initiatives aimed at Romania and our region, in the near future.
In the context of his presence in Brussels, the defence minister had a meeting with US Reserve General James Jones, Head of the Allied Forces Allied Command Europe (SACEUR) in 2003-2006, with whom he had an exchange of views on the security developments in the Black Sea region, as well as the status of the allied initiatives in this area and on the territory of Romania, the quoted source also informs.