DEFENCE

Jens Stoltenberg in Bucharest: Romania’s contribution to NATO is highly important in current uncertain security environment. President Iohannis reiterates Romania’s commitment to spending 2 percent of GDP on defence

NATO is adjusting to a more unpredictable, more uncertain security environment, and Romania has a great importance in this context, Secretary General of the North Atlantic Alliance Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday in a joint press statement delivered in Bucharest with President Klaus Iohannis.

The NATO chief thanked Romania for its strong commitment to the Alliance, to transatlantic security and cooperation, as well as for its proven leadership qualities within NATO. Praising the meeting with President Iohannis as excellent, the NATO Sec-Gen said that they discussed a wide range of subjects that are important to all the allies. NATO is adjusting to a more unpredictable, more uncertain security environment and Romania has a great importance in this context, Stoltenberg said, thanking also Romania for its contribution to NATO’s efforts to adjust in order to be capable to react to the current, more complex security environment.

Romania celebrates this year 15 years of NATO membership, Stoltenberg said, and went on to mention that in Afghanistan hundreds of Romanian troops help stabilize the country and prevent it from becoming a host for terrorists; he also referred to the contribution of Romanian troops to KFOR – towards stability and deterrence, to Romania’s anti-ballistic missile defense base, its contribution to security in the Black Sea region, the Craiova Multinational Brigade, the air policing actions and the strong presence of its marines.

The NATO Secretary General also emphasized the need for defense investment and congratulated Romania on the decision to allocate 2 pct of GDP for the modernization of its forces in the next decade. All these contributions make NATO stronger and Romania safer, Stoltenberg said, offering also congratulations for Romania’s first-time Presidency of the Council of the EU and for making this cooperation a priority.

 

Romania is committed to spending 2 percent of GDP on defence

 

President Klaus Iohannis said Thursday that Romania is committed to spending 2 percent of GDP on defence and is ready to carry out the army’s endowment programs, but said that, not having enough the exercise of wide-scale strategic endowment programs, things move somewhat slower.

“In CSAT [the Supreme Council for National Defence of Romania, ed.n.], we have been discussing these issues from the outset and we have realized that we have a great strategic opportunity – here, for the first time in many years, we can approach the Army’s endowment from a strategic point of view We have a ten-year plan, which makes possible acquisitions that have not been at all within the reach of the Ministry of Defence or the Army. We have the strategic endowment programs and we, Romania, are ready to carry out these endowments. Some have started very well and are in progress. We mustn’t say that nothing is happening. It’s happening We have ongoing strategic programs. Not having, since the Revolution, any major program of strategic endowment, things are moving somewhat slower. You cannot expect, from one day to the other, for departments that have been in charge with rather small acquisitions to be all of a sudden highly effective in big strategic procurement. And that’s it. Disruptions, unforeseen problems occur and all these need to be overcome,” Iohannis said at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace at a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

The head of state also spoke about the postponement of the tender for the purchase of certain corvettes.

“In CSAT we have discussed each year how we adapt these strategic programs, we are on schedule. Why is there no progress on the corvettes is a question that the Ministry of Defence will probably answer better. As far as I am concerned, things from the point of view of the CSAT are clear – the Government, in this case the Ministry of Defence, has to deliver and I hope this approach is also that of the Ministry of Defence. The concrete answer to the corvette tender will be received when the ministry is likely to receive the answer to that referral they have made, having, so they say, certain elements of uncertainty, but we generally know what we want. We have the funds available, because it is a commitment of Romania, it is not just a commitment of the Government or only of the CSAT, and we will carry things out,” said Iohannis.

In his turn, the NATO Secretary General said he expects everyone who has committed themselves to reaching the 2 percent of GDP for defence will keep their word.

As far as the plan to reach 2 percent, I understand that the figure is also expected for 2019 and I expect everyone to keep their word with regard to Defence spending. Romania is very close and I hope that this year it will be able to reach the 2 percent. We find that most of the allies are investing in Defence. Since 2016 onwards, the European and Canadian allies have added 41 billion dollars to the defence budget. Based on the national plans received from the allies, we expect this figure to rise to 100 billion by the end of next year, the NATO official said.

 

 Stoltenberg: NATO stays European security bedrock

 

The EU’s efforts for defence are complementary to and not competing with NATO’s, on Thursday said the Alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, stressing that NATO stays the bedrock of the European security.

In his turn, president Klaus Iohannis asserted that nobody wants a NATO-EU competition as regards defence.

“I’m very glad about the EU’s common efforts in defence since they help to develop new military capabilities, solve part of the fragmentation of the European defence industry and improve defence spending. Both the EU and NATO collaborate tighter now more than ever. At the same time, it is important to hold in mind that the EU’s efforts for defence are complementary to and not in a competition with NATO’s. It must be clear to us that the EU cannot replace NATO. The European unity cannot substitute itself to the transatlantic unity. NATO stays the European security’s bedrock. In particular after the Brexit, 80pct of the NATO defence spending will be provided by non-EU allies, four of the fighting groups in the Baltic states and Poland will be led by non-EU NATO allies, which are the US, Canada and the UK. (…) We must make sure we do not weaken the transatlantic connection,” the NATO Secretary General told a joint press conference with President Klaus Iohannis at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace.

According to the Romanian president, the complementarity of the Defence upgrade and endowment efforts between NATO and the EU is vital.

“Nobody, because we have discussed it in the European Council and in bilateral and informal talks with European leaders, wants to create a NATO – EU competition. We all want to make sure that the projects NATO has in mind and the ones that are developed in the EU be complementary, meaning to mutually strengthen and not to compete. (…) There have been voices that at some point asserted that Europe is doing too little for its own defence. There, it is doing now! I believe that this effort is both important and visible, and it will be a net benefit for NATO. The fact that the EU has developed common projects, such as PESCO [Permanent Structured Cooperation, ed. n.] proves that we have understood that we must play a very important role within NATO, but not in NATO’s place or in parallel with NATO. (…) The funds’ allocation for endowment, for upgrade must also create new projects, that come to improve the European pillar of NATO, included, and this is what is going on,” Klaus Iohannis said.

 

NATO SecGen:  We will soon sign accession protocol of Republic of North Macedonia to NATO

 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced on Thursday that the accession protocol of the Republic of North Macedonia to the North Atlantic Alliance will soon be signed.

We have also discussed the continued commitment to the open door policy and Skopje and Athens are to be praised here, and Prime Minister Tsipras and Prime Minister Zaev are to be praised because, for example, they managed to solve and make the issue of the name of the country to be something of the past. We will sign the accession protocol soon. Then Skopje will take part in two meetings as a guest. When all 29 allies have ratified the protocol, we will be able to welcome the Republic of Northern Macedonia as the 30th NATO member, Stoltenberg said at a joint conference with President Klaus Iohannis.

He stressed that the accession of this country to the North Atlantic Alliance will strengthen peace and stability in the region and in Europe.

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