The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has responded with “the greatest ability to adapt” as it is currently facing “the most challenging security environment in a generation,” NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana said on Monday in Bucharest.
“We are facing the most challenging security environment in a generation and NATO has responded with the greatest ability to adapt our collective defense in a generation, because when the world changes NATO changes too,” Geoana told a press conference delivered together with Romanian Defense Minister Nicolae Ciuca, Chief of Defense Staff, Lieutenant General Daniel Petrescu, and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach.
The statements come against the backdrop of NATO’s ongoing Steadfast Defender 21 exercise in Romania, which – the Deputy Secretary General emphasized – had been “planned since long, is not targeted against anyone and it is strictly defensive”. Also, Geoana said, the exercise “is not only an example of NATO’s force, but also of its transparency,” whereas the Alliance is capable and ready to defend all its allies, if necessary.
The Defense Minister spoke about Romania’s involvement in the joint defense in the region. “At every Alliance summit after the Ukraine crisis Romania has come up with a proposal to strengthen the Eastern Flank,” Nicolae Ciuca said.
“At a possible NATO-Russia Council meeting, Ukraine number one item on the agenda”
At a possible NATO-Russia Council meeting, the recent developments in Ukraine will be subject number one to be discussed, Mircea Geoana, NATO’s deputy secretary general, said on Monday, adding that a few days ago he made a proposal for such a meeting to the Russian side, which turned it down.
“Regarding the agenda of a possible NATO-Russia Council meeting, Ukraine is number one item on the agenda, because we are not just talking about the mobilisation of troops a few weeks ago, but it started in 2014 with the illegal annexation of Crimea, the war in Eastern Ukraine, with the militarisation of Crimea and its use as a springboard for the projection of power, not only in the wider Black Sea region, but also in the Mediterranean, and many other destinations. We have to talk about that because that is a subject matter that make us take deterrence measures and measures to defend our lands and populations,” said Geoana.
He attended a joint news conference with Romania’s Defence Minister Nicolae Ciuca, Chief of Defence Daniel Petrescu, and the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Stuart Peach.
According to Geoana, the Russian Federation has refused a council meeting with NATO.
“Personally, in the last year or so, I repeatedly sent a few requests to the Russian side about the NATO-Russia Council meeting, because that is the other way around. (…) Unfortunately, so far, Russia has not responded positively to the Russia – NATO Council meeting,” Geoana said.
About NATO’s relationship with Russia, Geoana said NATO was adapting. “Yes, Russia’s actions are destabilising. Unfortunately, we see a Russia that is becoming more repressive internally in terms of political opponents and more aggressive externally. (…) We are adapting to such realities,” he added.
In his turn, Defence Minister Ciuca, mentioned that “the Black Sea region is a hot spot, taking into account the Russian military mobilisation in Crimea and the Black Sea and all other issues discussed.”
“Any threat to Romania is a threat to the Alliance,” he said.
Romania’s Chief of Defence pointed out that Romania has a new national defence strategy.
“I think it reflects very well how we see this situation in the region. That National Defense Strategy clearly states that actions in Crimea, the militarisation of the area and its illegal annexation have consequences on the way we see national security in the Black Sea region,” said Petrescu.
Compiled from Agerpres
Photo: Laurentiu Turoi, www.mapn.ro