Romania’s Defence Minister Mihai Fifor said on Friday during a visit to the 57th Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base with Canadian counterpart Harjit Singh Sajjan that incidents such as the recent one when an American military aircraft was intercepted by a Russian airplane in the Black Sea international airspace, are frequent.
“Such incidents, unfortunately, are relatively common; I do not mean this type of interception, it indeed did not happen in a long time and it was at least a bizarre attitude on the part of the Russian Federation. It was an obvious challenge, and we believe such actions have no place in such situations, because there are challenges that can have unpleasant consequences. There can be accidents and no one wants such a thing,” the minister explained.
Fifor reiterated that the role of air policing is to prevent the violation of NATO airspace and that no incidents of this level have been recorded so far.
“We believe that there is enough space to be able to carry out our missions. We have repeatedly shown that we are ready for these missions with our allies. We all know that there have been reports from Canadian colleagues of Russia’s aircraft approaching the NATO airspace. Once again, they did not enter the NATO airspace, but it is precisely the role of air policing missions to prevent such things and that is why we are prepared and carry out these missions (…) I cannot put an exact number on these incidents. Our aircraft take off whenever needed and they carry out the air policing missions. Once again, that is their role, that is why we are here with our partners,” said Fifor.
Fifor reiterated that the procedure for the acquisition of corvettes is almost complete and hopes that by November 15 he will be able to announce the completion of the procedure, the object of which is the construction of four corvettes at a shipyard in Romania under a partnership, industrial cooperation and know-how transfer, so that the offset under this programme may help upgrade two frigates purchased from the British Navy.
He also said that acquiring submarines for the Romanian Navy is still on the agenda.
“The concept phase of the submarine acquisition project is complete and we hope to be able to take it as soon as possible before the Supreme Council for National Defence (CSAT),” said Fifor.
“Black Sea region faces Russia’s aggressive intention to militarise it”
The Romanian official stressed also during a visit to the 57th Mihai Kogalniceanu Air Base that the region finds itself in a “complex security situation” amidst “the aggressive attitude of the Russian Federation displayed in its intention of militarising the Black Sea and by increasing the military forces in the region and the deployment of new capabilities.’
Fifor told his Canadian counterpart Harjit Singh Sajjan that the presence of Canadian partners in Romania as part of the NATO air policing mission sends a message of solidarity and contributes to the implementation of reinsurance measures in a regional context. He also commended his Canadian counterpart for the constant support provided by Canada and for the contribution of the country to the implementation of the measures related to the enhanced forward presence adapted to all dimensions: air, navy and land.
“I want to thank you once again for your country’s contribution by taking up positions at the Multinational Division Command and the Command of the Multinational Brigade Southeast in Craiova. I am pleased to reiterate our appreciation for the presence of the Canadian Air Force, namely about 135 military deployed at the air base of Mihail Kogalniceanu and CF-18 airplanes performing enhanced air police missions between September and December 2018. I also want to point out the professionalism and dedication with which they carry out their missions in Romania as they implicitly contribute to the maintenance of a climate of peace and stability, both in the region and in the Euro-Atlantic area,” said Fifor.
He added that people in the Black Sea region “are going through difficult times.”
“We are going through difficult times in this region where we find ourselves in a complex security situation and facing an aggressive attitude on the part of the Russian Federation which intends to militarise the Black Sea and increase its military capabilities in the region while deploying new capabilities. These are the things that both Romanian and Canadian soldiers can notice every day on Romania’s soil,” Fifor said.
He also said that meeting his Canadian counterpart Harjit Singh Sajjan is also an opportunity to address issues such as strengthening a deterrent and defensive posture, effective in countering threats to NATO security, as well as Romania’s bid to host a NATO army corps and to identify concrete co-operation ways for the commissioning of such capability to contribute to the architecture of a coherent command and control structure for NATO’s south-eastern flank.
“I want to use this opportunity to reconfirm our desire to continue collaboration that is very valuable to Romania, which, along with an intense programme of joint exercises, the affiliation of forces and personnel with the NATO command and control bodies in Romania, will enhance the architecture for bilateral co-operation,” said Fifor.
He also referenced the importance Romania will attach to transatlantic dialogue while holding the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2019.
“On a different note, the importance of intensifying the dialogue between our countries is all the more relevant as Romania will take over the presidency of the Council of the European Union from January next year. Particular attention will be paid to strengthening the transatlantic relationship as a priority of our presidency as well as of the intensification of the NATO-EU cooperation. One thing is certain: that we cannot think of the whole architecture of European security without a strong transatlantic link and I am convinced that we will be able to co-operate on this issue as well,” concluded Fifor.
Photo: Bogdan Pantilimon, www.mapn.ro