French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian on Thursday said that the announced French military presence in Romania cannot be seen as a “challenge” by Russia since France doesn’t do anything else but honouring its commitments.
“France is a nation-state, and its participation in NATO’s enhanced forward presence in Romania is in line with its commitments as part of the organization. This readiness will be discussed by ministers in the coming days,” Le Drian said.
The French minister held a joint press conference with his Romanian counterpart, Bogdan Aurescu.
Jean-Yves Le Drian said that the possible coordination with the US forces present on the Romanian territory, as announced on Wednesday, could be based on the “complementarity” principle.
Asked if Russia would see France’s announcement that it would send troops to Romania as a “challenge,” the Paris chief diplomat said: “I don’t think this can be said to be a challenge, we’re just meeting our commitments with NATO.”
The French high official also said that “the key issue at the moment is de-escalation.” He also spoke in this regard of the dialogue variant.
“We must make every effort to achieve this goal. And this is what we are doing for this purpose: we are deterring and trying to talk. We want to find channels of communication with Russia. It is true that this dialogue is always demanding and difficult, but we must have it in order to prevent the deterioration of the situation because it is now true that the situation is serious and that Russia has the necessary deployed forces at its disposal that it can engage in an aggressive initiative very fast if it wants. But it did not decide anything else. So we must make all efforts and take all possible initiatives to lead to de-escalation and for President Putin to prefer negotiating over confrontation,” Le Drian pointed out.
In his turn, Aurescu spoke about the importance of the deterrence component.
“I would like to add something that we, Romanians, keep in mind, because of our historical experience – when you want to have a dialogue that is substantial and that gives results, in this part of the world you need to rely on a strong deterrence,” he said.
At the same time, Aurescu reiterated that “the allied presence on the eastern flank of the Alliance, including in the southern part, where Romania is located, if compared to the current Russian presence in the vicinity of Ukraine and the Black Sea region, is clearly a presence that is significantly smaller so there is no way we can talk about the deployment of allied forces that would be a challenge for Russia.”
Our desire is to expand Schengen; we are in a very favorable disposition for Romania
French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday that France wants to expand the Schengen area under its current presidency of the Council of the European Union.
“I would like to remind you of our position, which you know very well. It is important to control our borders together. The spirit of Schengen – free movement – involves close border control, one does not go without the other and it is essential to deeply reform Schengen firstly to strengthen its governance and to ensure that control mechanisms are rigorous and strengthened in all their dimensions. That is what want to achieve this during the French Presidency, and this is where our desire to expand Schengen comes in. We know that Romania is interested in this expansion. We are in a very favorable disposition in this regard for both Romania and Bulgaria and Croatia,” Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a joint conference with Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu.
At the beginning of January, France took over the six-month presidency of the EU Council.
Corvette talks move forward; hopefully an agreement is soon reached
French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday that talks between French ship builder Naval Group and the Constanta Shipyard, two industrial partners, were advancing on the construction of corvettes, adding that hopefully an agreement would be reached as soon as possible.
“As far as the corvettes are concerned, this is a discussion between two industrial partners. I am happy that these talks are taking place. I hope that all these talks will succeed as soon as possible and that the two companies involved will make the necessary efforts to conclude this agreement as soon as possible, which will greatly strengthen the bilateral relationship between Romania and France and will also contribute to good coordination of our navies in the Black Sea,” Le Drian told a joint news conference with Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu in Bucharest.
At the end of January, Florence Parly, the French defence minister, paid a visit to Romania. She pointed out that France supports the Romanian Army and its modernisation, mentioning the corvette file to the end.
Romanian Defence Minister Vasile Dancu spoke at that time about army acquisition projects, mentioning that he hopes a quick solution would be worked out for the corvette acquisition project.
ForMin Aurescu: What happens in the Black Sea does not stay in the Black Sea
Romania’s Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu said on Thursday that the current security crisis “is about the security of the Euro-Atlantic area” as a whole, pointing out that NATO member states must continue their coordination on concrete measures so as to achieve de-escalation.
“The current security crisis is not just about Ukraine’s security, it’s not just about the region’s security, it’s not just about Europe’s security, it’s about the security of the Euro-Atlantic area as a whole, and the Black Sea is an integral part of that space, just as Black Sea security is an integral part of transatlantic security. What happens in the Black Sea does not stay in the Black Sea. The Russian Federation continues to build up troops in the vicinity of Ukraine, in the Black Sea region, which are worrying developments needing our permanent attention, and (…) today we have once again had the opportunity to continue to coordinate on concrete steps we need to take together so as to achieve de-escalation, to achieve a resumption of dialogue,” Aurescu told a joint news conference with visiting French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Aurescu hosted a round of consultations in a hybrid format of the Bucharest Format 9 (B9) ministers of foreign affairs and French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian. The meeting was also attended by Ukraine’s foreign minister.
Le Drian’s participation in the meeting, Aurescu said, comes in addition to President Macron’s announcement on France’s willingness to send troops to Romania to consolidate the eastern flank.
“This is an extremely strong signal of France’s deep commitment to strengthening the NATO defence and deterrence posture on the eastern flank, in a unified and coherent manner,” said Aurescu.
He added that a consolidation of the eastern flank “is necessary regardless of current security developments.”
Aurescu underscored “the strong political support given to Ukraine in the face of the challenges and security threats facing the country.”
The head of the Romanian diplomacy spoke of the “significant deterioration” of the security situation, namely the continuous mobilisation of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border, in the Black Sea basin.
Aurescu mentioned his concern over “Russia’s actions aimed at undermining Europe’s security architecture.”
“We cannot accept the threat of using force, we cannot accept outdated concepts such as those relating to spheres of influence,” the Romanian minister said.
The head of the French diplomacy spoke of the unity of the NATO member states amidst these challenges and of the fact that all lines of dialogue are open with Russia.
“Russia could see this week that it is dealing with united and supportive Europeans, in any context, be it the European Union, the OSCE or NATO,” Le Drian said. He added that Russia “must make a clear choice between the escalation of the situation and the imbalance and the path of dialogue and stability found around the fundamental principles of security.”
Compiled from Agerpres