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October 8, 2022

DefMin Gabriel Les meets Austrian counterpart Kunasek: European defense cannot evolve without solid and functional transatlantic relationship

European defense cannot evolve without a solid and functional transatlantic relationship, Europe’s profile as a global actor being closely linked to it, Defense Minister Gabriel Les said on Monday in the joint statements alongside his Austrian counterpart Mario Kunasek.

“The visit to Bucharest of the Austrian counterpart, Minister Mario Kunasek, took place in the context of Austria’s holding of the Presidency of the Council of the EU, and respectively that Romania’s taking over of this high responsibility as of 1 January 2019. Thus, today’s discussions focused on the developments and progress achieved by Austria during its term and, of course, on Romania’s priorities during the presidency in defense (…). We have pointed out that we are prepared to assume the major responsibilities arising from this quality, the demarches in this field at ministry level, as well as at the level of the entire Executive, being on schedule,” said Gabriel Les.

The Romanian Minister of Defense added that during the discussions he pointed out, as regards the developments on the security and defense dimension within the EU, that “the European defense cannot evolve without a solid and functional transatlantic tie, Europe’s profile as a global actor being in close connection with it.”

“With regard to the military capabilities, Romania will continue to support the process of their development within the EU through concrete actions, in parallel with the effort to include the contribution of the European Defense Agency to the EU’s comprehensive approach to security and defense,” Les said.

He specified another topic of the talks was the issue of the Western Balkans.

“I have said that in this area the challenges are still complex and in this context we appreciate that the EU’s operational commitment in the region must be maintained, while granting support for the increase of resilience, strengthening the defense capabilities and national security of the Western Balkan states. I also reminded that Romania welcomes the new UN Security Council resolution on EUFOR Althea, thus appreciating that the EU’s operational actions in the region should not be diminished until the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is stable and irreversible,” Les said.

The Minister also added that issues related to the implementation of the EU’s overall security and defense strategy were also addressed.

“Our country will firmly support the EU’s level of ambition aimed at responding to existing conflicts and crises. A stronger common defense and security policy will allow Europe to become more involved in security and defense,” Les affirmed.

The minister concluded that at the end of the talks he has showed that “developments within the EU must not evolve in antagonism with those at NATO level.”

“Romania, as a responsible and active member state of both organizations, considers that the pillar of European security is ensured only through improved cooperation and coordination between the EU and NATO. As a conclusion, the discussions with my counterpart highlighted the similarities in the two states’ commitment to contribute to the strengthening of the EU profile as a global actor and was a good opportunity to ensure continuity in the implementation of the defense initiatives on the European agenda and cooperation between the two countries,” Les further stated.


Austrian Minister of Defense: Romania taking over EU Council Presidency ensures continuity of European defence projects


“By taking over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Romania ensures the continuity of the European projects in security and defense, Austrian Minister of Defense Mario Kunasek, on an official visit in Bucharest”, said on Monday.

I have noticed during our conversation that there is great compatibility between our visions. I would like to express my joy regarding the fact that Romania’s taking on the Presidency of the Council of the European Union convinces us that there will be a continuity of our projects. This continuity is a guarantee for the strengthening of the security and defense policies. During our term, there have been many projects that will be carried out during your term. Mr. minister listed a few points, I would only like to reinforce what he said. Especially as concerns PESCO [Permanent Structure Cooperation ed. n], it is important that we can implement the projects that have been started,” Kunasek told joint press statements alongside his Romanian counterpart.

He reminded that two of the PESCO projects are in a collaboration between Romania and Austria.

A second point, just as important for Austria and Romania is the issue of the Western Balkans. During our term we said that it is our duty to export security so as not to be forced to import insecurity in Europe, but we wish for the participating countries to obtain the capability of being able to resolve their issues on their own. In this sense, I once again express how glad I am that the minister voiced his availability for Romania to develop the projects began by Austria on the topic of the Western Balkans, Kunasek highlighted.

He mentioned that throughout the Austrian Presidency of the EU Council one of the priorities was ensuring the external borders of the Union, many operations, demarches in the area of military-civilian cooperation having been developed.

“In this sense, there will be a joint exercise in Hungary, next year, in June, intended to enforce common defense projects of the external borders and it brings me great joy that Romania expressed an increased interest in this sense”, the Austrian minister said.

“I would like to assure you that once the Presidency is handed and taken over, the collaboration between Romania and Austria will be strengthened”, Mario Kunasek pointed out.

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