DEFENCE DIPLOMACY

President Iohannis : Unitary, consolidated, consistent NATO presence needed on Eastern Flank

Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis firmly supports NATO’s unitary, consolidated and consistent presence all across its Eastern Flank.

“Such a presence is required, from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, in order to achieve an efficient deterrence and defence posture for NATO,” Iohannis said at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace on Wednesday at the “Strengthening NATO’s Eastern Flank: Challenges and Strategies for Baltic-Black Sea Coherence” conference.

He pointed out that the Black Sea area is still marked by frozen conflicts and latent tensions.

“Recent security involutions in the Black Sea region as a result of Russia’s actions in recent years are well known to us all. Unfortunately, recent developments do not provide the prerequisites for a return to a normal state of affairs. On the contrary, there are examples of a potential for escalation in the region. The Black Sea zone continues to be marked by frozen conflicts and latent tensions. In addition, we find the climate of confrontation, the advanced militarisation of the Black Sea and the intensification of hybrid actions particularly dangerous due to their effects, which both concern us, our allies and NATO allies in the region. All of this has major implications that go beyond the Black Sea, affecting the European space and eroding the Euro-Atlantic security architecture in its entirety,” said Iohannis.

Security in the Black Sea region and the entire Eastern Flank, according to the Romanian president is directly reflected on Euro-Atlantic security.

“Any deficiency, any vulnerability to the Black Sea becomes one of the NATO as a whole, and it simply invites hostile actions. Is the Alliance prepared to face these challenges and provide concrete answers to an increasingly unpredictable environment? So far, it has proved that it does: the concrete evidence is the measures that have been adopted and implemented since 2014, continuing with those agreed in 2016 at the Warsaw Summit and then at the Brussels Summits in 2017 and in 2018. But it is not enough! For the Black Sea region, an articulated and coordinated approach in terms of politics, operations and capabilities is still required to restore balance and deter hostile actions,” said Iohannis.

He pointed out that the results of the measures for the Black Sea region adopted at the last NATO summits are visible: in the field of land defence – through the fully operational NATO organisations hosted in Craiova and Bucharest, as well as in the field of air and sea defence – by the joint activities of the Romanian and NATO armed forces.

He welcomed the conduct of NATO’s “Sea Shield 2019” exercise in the Black Sea.

“All these decisions demonstrate the clear understanding at NATO’s level of the strategic reality that the Black Sea region is vital to the whole Euro-Atlantic area as a result of our efforts. The strategic nature of the Black Sea must be adequately reflected in improved consistency, which is essential, across the entire Eastern Flank. At the same time, a strategic approach to the Black Sea region implies, on an operational plan, close monitoring of regional developments, strengthening NATO’s posture as well as strengthening the defence capabilities and the resilience of NATO’s partners – Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova,” added Iohannis.

He said that decisions of operational relevance adopted at the NATO summit in Brussels should be capitalised on to strengthen NATO components on Romania’s soil, in particular the Multinational Brigade Southeast in Craiova, in order to have a substantial presence of NATO ships in the Black Sea and to step up the air policing missions in the region.

“NATO’s presence in the Baltic Sea region and the Black Sea region must operate effectively at all levels, based on consistent command and control arrangements,” Iohannis said.

He also said that the strategic partnership with the United States of America and strengthening the transatlantic relationship and the excellent relationships with other NATO allies and NATO’s complementary co-operation with the European Union are necessities and guarantees for an efficient management of the current security challenges.

The Romanian president underlined that the NATO summit in London this December represents a new opportunity to continue the NATO’s adaptation process.

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