President Klaus Iohannis said on Wednesday that Romania has “very concrete” expectations of the NATO Summit, indicating a significant consolidation of the Eastern Flank, an increase in the number of allied soldiers, the designation of the Black Sea as an area of strategic interest, Russia to be considered a significant threat to the Alliance, and the battle groups to be raised to brigades.
“NATO is the guarantee of our security, and in these difficult times, when Russia attacked our neighbor Ukraine, we realize how important the NATO umbrella is for our security, for the security of every Romanian. This Summit has been described by some as historic and I think they are right. In fact, the summit began last night. There were informal meetings, there was a formal reception at the King of Spain, but the discussions were already focused there. The atmosphere, in my opinion, is a positive one, a good one, although the security situation and the economic situation are not great,” said the president, ahead of the NATO Summit.
President Iohannis presented Romania’s expectations of the summit.
“I, my team, Romania, have very concrete expectations of this summit. We expect, for example, that a meeting will be decided, a significant consolidation of the Eastern Flank, the Eastern Flank where we are located, which means that we expect a significant increase in the number of allied soldiers who will be stationed on the Eastern Flank and, implicitly, of course, in Romania as well. We expect the Black Sea area, where we are and where the war is taking place, to be declared an area of strategic interest to NATO. We expect Russia to be declared the most important danger zone, so Russia to be declared a significant threat to NATO, because this is what it is. We expect quite concretely – to give examples of this kind – for the battle groups that have been proposed and are being set up on the Eastern Flank to become bigger, to become brigades,” said the head of the state.
Iohannis said that Romania supports the “open doors” policy, pointing out that Tuesday night’s talks were aimed at accepting Sweden and Finland into the North Atlantic Alliance.
“So high expectations from us, high expectations from the allies and the general expectation is for NATO to prove that it is united and strong and I believe that at this Summit we will prove this,” the Romanian president said, according to Agerpres.
President Klaus Iohannis is attending the NATO Summit in Madrid on Wednesday and Thursday. On Tuesday, the head of state attended a gala dinner hosted by King Philip VI and Queen Letizia in honor of the heads of state and government attending the Alliance Summit.
Army budget to be 2.5 pct of GDP starting with 2023, significant part – for investment
President Klaus Iohannis said on Wednesday that starting next year the budget allocated to the Army will be 2.5 percent, showing that this will be a ten-year plan, at least, and a significant part will be for investment.
“Political discussions took place. Everyone agreed that more money was needed to guarantee Romania’s security and to guarantee the modernization of the Army. We decided together, and this discussion – you will probably remember – started from CSAT [the Supreme Council of National Defense] to allocate 2.5 percent of GDP for Defence, this will happen starting with the next budget, for the year 2023, and we are certainly talking here about a plan that will span at least ten years, because these actions of modernization, endowment, superior training of the troops don’t happen in just a year or two. This is about the so-called multi-annual programs and here we want to change things and not just allocate 2.5 percent of GDP to Defence, but a significant part of that amount to go into investments, for the actual endowment,” said the head of state, before the participation in the NATO Summit in Madrid.
Number of allied troops deployed to Romania expected to increase
President Klaus Iohannis also declared on Wednesday that he expects the number of allied troops deployed to Romania to increase in the coming months, so that the allied battle group reaches operational capacity.
“There is a significant number of allied troops already deployed in Romania and we expect this number to increase in the coming months for the French-led battle group to reach operational capacity. Of course, if the decision is made – and it seems that this will be the case – to supplement the battle groups or raise them to brigade level, we will certainly have much more soldiers, but these things won’t happen in a week, these activities take months, sometimes years. For us it is not important to have 1,000 allied troops tomorrow in Romania, what is really important for us is to have the decision, to prepare thoroughly and to have troops that work very closely together, and this we succeeded in doing so far. I am convinced that these movements will be further successful for Romania, for the allies and in the end for NATO and the reinforcement of the eastern flank,” the head of the state said before joining the NATO Summit in Madrid.
President Iohannis was asked what would the transformation of the allied battle group into a brigade imply as regards the number of troops and whether Romania will be among the allies that will benefit from pre-assigned forces.
“Certainly, we will not only have pre-assigned forces, ie soldiers who will know that in case something happens they must swiftly move to Romania, we will also have pre-positioned equipment, meaning that certain equipment with reduced mobility will be positioned quite close nearby so that in case the troops’ presence is required immediately, personnel and equipment can be moved at the same time. These aspects must be very, very well prepared, military mobility is a very important topic that I too have addressed many times, it depends on military organization, but also on the critical infrastructure, on highways, railways and so on, and all these must receive special emphasis in order to reinforce the eastern flank,” said Iohannis.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced on Monday that the summit’s decisions will include increasing NATO’s high-readiness force from 40,000 to 300,000 troops and enhancing battle groups in the Eastern part of the Alliance to brigade level. Also, more equipment will be pre-positioned on the eastern flank and stockpiles of military supplies here will be increased.