Romania hosts Bucharest Format (B9) Summit at parliamentary level. President Iohannis: National parliaments of B9 countries play essential role in equitable sharing of burdens inside NATO

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The national legislatures of the countries making up the Bucharest Format (B9) have an essential role to play in the equitable sharing of burdens inside NATO, especially because of their specific part in approving budgets to support a more ambitious common defence and security approach, Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis said on Wednesday in the opening speech at the first B9 parliamentary summit.

“We start from the generic responsibility of the parliamentary dimension inside the NATO countries – to secure the bond between the political class and society, for optimal reporting of NATO’s political agenda to the most pressing needs and expectations of the public in the allied states, a public that wishes more security. The national parliaments of the B9 countries have an essential role to play in the equitable sharing of the burdens inside NATO, especially because of their specific part in approving budgets to support a more ambitious common defence and security approach,” said Iohannis.

He underscored that Romania’s commitment to allocate 2 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for defence spending starting in 2017 highlights the importance of effective collaboration among all institutional actors – the President, Parliament and the Government.

“Taking up and preserving this commitment was made on my own initiative at the beginning of my term of office, with the agreement of all the parties represented in Parliament. I believe that this is a concrete and positive example of how all the bodies of a NATO member state must act to respect the commitments pledged for its own security and also for the security of the whole Euro-Atlantic area,” Iohannis said.

He mentioned that the sharing of security benefits comes with the sharing of burdens and that this principle must be understood by the society as a whole, in which context the essential role of the national parliaments occurs.

“Indeed, parliaments are best placed to explain to their own public the benefits and responsibilities derived from NATO membership,” Iohannis pointed out.

According to the president, the B9 format has been strengthened in a very useful informal security dialogue platform among NATO’s eastern flank countries, which have also become beneficiaries of allied deterrence and active contributors to Euro-Atlantic security in its entirety.

The head of state added that the NATO summit in Brussels this year will mark a new stage in the process of adapting the alliance to the current security challenges and threats. He pointed out that, in preparation for this meeting, the summit of the Bucharest format in Warsaw this June, which he will co-chair with the President of Poland, Andrei Duda, will play a very important role.

“In this context, the full implementation of the decisions we adopted at the NATO summits in Wales and Warsaw is a priority. We will have to continue to argue that the allied presence across the entire eastern flank, from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, should be unitary, consistent and efficient to serve the purpose of strengthening NATO’s deterrence and defense posture. Romania firmly supports NATO’s initiatives that help achieve this goal. In addition to these efforts, NATO’s eastern and southern partners should continue to receive the attention and support of NATO to strengthen their resilience, and we also support initiatives to address the threats in the southern neighbourhood of the Euro-Atlantic area, including by increasing the role of NATO in countering terrorism,” the head of state said.

Iohannis said that Romania strongly supports the development of the partnership between NATO and the European Union.

“I trust that at this year’s NATO Summit we will reiterate by concrete actions and decisions the unity and solidarity of the allies, as well as the value of a strong transatlantic relationship. I am convinced that the decisions we will adopt in Brussels in July will make NATO a stronger alliance, and Romania will remain the same ally and trustworthy, responsible partner, fully committed to NATO projects to strengthening regional and international security,” Iohannis said.

 

Speaker Dragnea: National Parliament of B9 states have to play specific role in security and defence area

 

The national Parliaments of the B9 member countries have to play a specific role in the defence and security area, as institutions with a specific role, Speaker of the Deputies’ Chamber Liviu Dragnea stated on the occasion of the B9 Summit at parliamentary level .

“It’s the first parliamentary summit in the B9 format and I am convinced that we will extract useful conclusions from our dialogue regarding the current security threats and challenges. Our contribution, that of the MPs, is absolutely necessary, especially, taking into account the rapidity with which the security environment in which we live and its unpredictability is changing. The development of the security environment is being made though a comprehensive, but, at the same time, nuanced approach. This implies a unitary understanding of this phenomenon’s diversity, only this way we can act together in order to maintain our security. The B9 is not a form of regionalising security. It doesn’t aim to create groups of interest inside NATO or the EU, but it is a method to coagulate the specific contribution of the participating countries and the experience, and the expertise, as well as the capacity to use, as efficiently as possible, the mechanisms and resources at their disposal,” Speaker Dragnea stated.

According to him, from its launching, the B9 format produced positive results, proving its added value and the high degree of relevance within the security environment.

“I appreciate the opportunity offered now to continue the debates of the foreign affairs ministers in the B9 format of the last autumn, as well as that of the defence ministers in March of this year. (…) I hail once again the launching of the parliamentary dimension of this format, because the national parliaments that have a specific connection with the citizens have to play a specific role as institutions with significant responsibilities in the security and defence area, Parliament substantially contributes to ensuring the adoption of the necessary decisions on international level. Moreover, Parliaments promote vital security instruments and help to achieve a common understanding of the security aspects, taking into account that we all should adapt to the current strategic realities. In this context, I want to reconfirm that Romania’s Government grants full support to the group activities regarding the national security. The best example is the commitment on continuing to earmark two percent of the GDP to Defence. This budget allows the Government to fulfill Romania’s commitments inside NATO regarding the funds, contributions and capabilities. It also allows the continuation of our endowment programmes in the defence sector and the fulfillment of armed forces’ mission both on national and international level. The most important thing in allocating two percent of the GDP to Defence allows us to prepare for unpredictable situations, given the developments of the security environment in the eastern flank of the Alliance,” Liviu Dragnea said.

He underscored that the organisation of the B9 summit provides the opportunity to convey a unitary and coherent message regarding the strengthening of the eastern flank of NATO in preparing the NATO Summit in Brussels, in July 2018.

The main topics under debate today, says Speaker Liviu Dragnea, correspond to the main problems that our countries, as well as NATO and the EU are confronted with.

“The observance of the international legislation in the security area is a necessity, breaching it seriously affects the security balance and our capacity to act as suppliers of security. We fully endorse NATO’s ongoing adaptation process to the current challenges. W have to be prepared to ensure the defence of our territories and nations. Romania, as a framework nation of the advanced presence on the southern side of the eastern flank, endorses a coherent and unitary action of all allies and partners, Romania grants a major significance to implementing the decisions taken in the Warsaw Summit for strengthening the defence and deterrence measures on the eastern flank of the Alliance, including in the Black Sea area. We believe that the profile of the Black Sea region is essentially to NATO agenda,” the Speaker of the Deputies’ Chamber underscored.

Liviu Dragnea stressed that, from Romania’s view, the increase of presence in the Black Sea area has a special importance, which has been achieved so far through a series of measures aimed at boosting the cooperation on the land, air and sea.

“Furthermore, against the backdrop of the substantial changes of the security environment, Romania believes that it is necessary to intensify NATO’s efforts to strengthen the naval security, in view of transforming the maritime basins from the borders of the Black Sea – the Mediterranean Sea and the Baltic Sea into a stability zone. A strong transatlantic tie remains essential of the Euro-Atlantic security. We hail the enhanced military commitment of the US regarding the security and defence of Europe, including the significant increase of funding for 2018 of the European Deterrence Initiative. The future NATO Summit represent an occasion to reconfirm the solidarity of the transatlantic tie and the determination of all allies to act in unity and in a decisive manner in order to respond to all current threats regardless of where they are coming from. Romania’s goals should aim at the unitary approach of components destined to strengthening the defence and deterrence posture for the eastern flank, the development of some concrete command and control commitments for the advanced allied presence in the region, the increase of the allied military presence in the Black Sea, the strengthening of defence on the entire European continent through developing some series of strategies regarding the deployment of the Alliance’s forces and capabilities. (…) Managing the current security environment, marked by a high degree of predictability, requires a major parliamentary support. From this perspective, the parliamentary talks on the extended issues tackled during this summit will contribute to the strengthening of a shared understanding of the mutual interest topics, but also to harmonising our positions and establish future approaches,” Liviu Dragnea added.

 

Senate President Tariceanu: We must enlarge NATO’s presence on entire eastern flank territory

 

Senate President Calin Popescu-Tariceanu stated on Wednesday, within the opening session of the B9 Parliamentary Summit, that Romania feels the need to see that NATO’s command structure is better represented in the east of the Alliance.

“I hope that the Brussels Summit in July adopts decisions allowing NATO’s presence on the Eastern flank to keep up with the times. I would like to evoke here the common background that our nations have, their exit, almost three decades ago, from the last cold war and their release from the regimes associated with the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. (…) 30 years later, after the fall of communism, when Romania is part of the eastern flank of NATO, as of 2004, as a border-country, we feel the need to see that NATO’s command structure is better represented in the east of the Alliance. We must enlarge NATO’s presence on the entire territory of the eastern flank, intensify the response to threats, offer a more active support to our partners by increasing the resilience to hybrid and cyber threats,” the Senate President stated.

He underscored that Romania is the 6th allied state in respect to the GDP percentage spent on Defence.

“Over 33 percent of Romania’s spending for defence in 2017 were earmarked to major equipment purchases, which represents the highest percentage of NATO, well above the 20 percent target. We actively participate in strengthening the deterrence and defence posture of NATO on the eastern flank, both on national soil and in Poland,” Tariceanu stated.

Calin Popescu-Tariceanu also said that the main topics of the B9 meeting are the following: the advanced presence of NATO, the eastern flank contributions of NATO countries, the equitable burden sharing, defence and deterrence, projecting stability, fighting terrorism and military mobility.

“So far, the interventions have confirmed what is emerging as a basic principle at the other levels of B9, namely a shared perception, from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea, regarding the necessity of our own efforts to strengthen the defence and deterrence potential, both by increasing the budget up to two percent of the GDP and by the firm support of allies, so that eastern risks and threats be addressed in a coherent and integrated manner,” he stated.

Tariceanu also stated that the meetings at parliamentary level are important, including in view of mutual debate and information regarding the citizens’ concerns in respect to the defence and security of their countries.

“It’s important to enhance the degree of mutual knowledge by sharing our parliamentary concerns in respect to the pressure, which over the past years, tested our defence and deterrence positions, after the aggression at the Black Sea of the Russian Federation in 2014, first by illegally annexing Crimea and subsequently by fueling a prolonged conflict on the sovereign territory of our neighbor, to the north and east, Ukraine. The test and warning that we were given in 2008 have gone unanswered when Russia attacked Georgia, our neighbor in the east, on the other shore of the Black Sea. The EU and the US didn’t enforce sanctions. (…) Over the past ten years, we have witnessed two aggressions of Russia in the Black Sea region. This is our priority task, as a stated at the Black Sea, namely be prepared in order to protect our own borders and, at the same time, contribute to the construction of the resilience capability in our eastern vicinity, marked by various nuances of conflict. We firmly position ourselves next to our partners and offer an active support with a natural prioritisation of the Republic of Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine,” Tariceanu added.

 

Marshal of Poland’s Senate Stanislaw Karczewski : B9 countries should ensure upcoming NATO Summit is show of strength, solidarity with alliance

 

Marshal of Poland’s Senate Stanislaw Karczewski said on Wednesday at the opening session of the first parliamentary Summit of the Bucharest Format (B9) that member states should do everything in their power for the NATO meeting due this July in Brussels to be a demonstration of the alliance’s power and solidarity.

The next NATO Summit will take place in July in Brussels. The threats that caused us concerns three years ago are far from gone. On the contrary, we learn dramatic news from Salisbury, UK and the Syrian city of Douma, confirming that this threat is real. In this context, B9 countries should do everything possible for the upcoming summit in Brussels to be a demonstration of the power and solidarity of the North-Atlantic Alliance. This is a common threat to the entire alliance and the Russian aggression was actual on NATO’s Eastern flank, the aggression against Ukraine is still there. In keeping with NATO solidarity, we must observe not only the international laws on the possession of weapons, but also the dignity of human life. That said, B9 countries must do everything possible for the Brussels summit to be a show of strength and solidarity with the alliance, Karczewski said.

President of the Senate of France Gerard Larcher underscored that Europe must preserve its unity and breathe “through two lungs”, the eastern and the western one.

We must avoid the emergence of other issues in Europe, between the North and the South, the East and the West and in the first place, preserve our unity. Europe needs to breathe through two lungs: the eastern and the western one. (…) Speaking in Warsaw to the Polish Senate, I was convinced that Europe cannot be an assembly of concentric circles. There must be a single Europe, there are not several categories of member states and I’ve said that a few days before in the Bundestag and the Bundesrat. (….) In the past 20 years we have witnessed various threats. We’ve had classic threats that have never disappeared from Europe, and we are now witnessing new threats caused by migration, cyberattacks, but also terrorist threats, and my country is well aware what I am talking about, Larcher said.

Speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament Viktoras Pranckietis said that Russia’s unpredictable and aggressive actions remain a major source of threat not just in the region, but to the entire Euro-Atlantic community.

Russia seeks to increase its strategic edge in the region by strengthening and modernizing its military capabilities and developing the military equipment and troops near our borders. The countries in the Baltic region face military and hybrid threats. The subsequent militarization in the region of Kaliningrad and the supply of the Iskander ballistic missile system are an obvious military goal. We consider the nuclear power plant that is under construction in Ostrovec, Belarus, in the immediate vicinity of Vilnius to be a political project and a potential nuclear threat to the entire region, said Pranckietis.

 

According to the Lithuanian top MP, security is a major priority for the Lithuanian government and this year’s Defence allocation is 2.01 percent of GDP, while the number of troops is by 24 percent higher compared to 2014.

If necessary, we will further increase spending to reach 2.5 percent of GDP by 2030, he added.

President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Paolo Alli said that defence and security are key factors and the citizens must be given explanations as to why defence investments are necessary.

“I was amazed by the involvement of the defence sector in my country (Italy – Ed. note) during elections, and I put this up for discussion because I am sure that this active effort is indispensable for our citizens, if we want to support the difficult decisions our countries must take. This parliamentary summit contributes to this important task. (…) We got a heads-up from Donald Trump’s representative as to the differences among Defence allocations. We reacted to this alert and at the same time I have made this one of my priorities at every meeting. We need to build a consensus regarding such spending. We are not talking just in percentage figures, of 2 percent, but also about cash amounts and the effective contribution of the capabilities”, he explained.

NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), US general Curtis Scaparrotti reviewed the recent progress towards an immediate response to possible military threats.

According to the decisions taken in Wales, we are strengthening the defence pillar and we enhanced the level of training for response. We increased NATO’s response force we call the spearhead force, and the entire response force was supplemented to 40,000 land and maritime resources. We are adjusting our structure to be capable to plan, exercise, command and control broad areas of conflict. The design to optimize the combat force and the coverage was agreed upon this February and it will provide combat capacities for the complex Euro-Atlantic theatre. It was also agreed to start with the implementation as soon as possible, Scaparrotti concluded.