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Iohannis: Advanced presence on Eastern Flank must be reinforced, especially in Black Sea


President Klaus Iohannis stated on Monday that the advanced presence on NATO's Eastern Flank must be reinforced.

"The advanced presence on the eastern Flank must be reinforced, especially in the south, at the Black Sea, in all its dimensions. The current differences between the measures taken for the north of the Flank and the ones for the south must also disappear, shaping an advanced, persistent and predictable sole presence," the head of the state maintained in his speech at NATO's Parliamentary Assembly, taking place in Bucharest.

The head of state stated that the 2018 NATO Summit will be an important stage for consolidating the Alliance's measures, for strengthening security in Europe, context in which he presented Romania's perspective to that end.

"I can say that it is high time again we strengthened partnerships: firstly, the transatlantic partnership, then the partnerships among us, the members of the Alliance, by continuing the efforts to reinforce the collective defence and the internal resilience in the face of the variety of threats we are confronted with. These are complemented by external partnerships with the states interested in cooperating with the Alliance in view of maintaining peace and security, as well as of developing their defence capability. Last but not least, the NATO partnership with the European Union," President Iohannis said.

He underscored that the transatlantic partnership between North America and Europe remains "an essential component of our common security."

"Within NATO, a solid transatlantic tie embodies the very engine of the allied security, which is substantially linked to the efficient enforcement of article 5 of the Treaty," Iohannis added.

"We must continue to bolster this vital relation, both by finding together solutions to the current security issues, and also through a fair contribution to sharing the responsibilities incumbent on us, which also means the increase in defence investment," Iohannis underscored.

He pointed out partnerships among the Alliance members must be "stronger than ever". "The decisions to strengthen collective defence, through NATO troops deployment on eastern allies' territories, as part of the advanced presence, are living proof of allied solidarity and unity. We must continue to work at consolidating the defence and deterrence posture of the Alliance, at enhancing its efficiency and coherence," Iohannis specified.

The President indicated that, at domestic level, these strictly defensive measures must be doubled by resilience-strengthening actions, especially of protection of civilian infrastructure in the face of hybrid, cybernetic or informational aggressions.

Klaus Iohannis underscored that the vast network of partnerships of the Alliance with all the states that think of NATO as cooperation partner also needs consolidation — for the development of each partner's own defence capabilities, of the resilience to threats they are confronting with, from the hybrid to the terrorist ones.

"Romania will actively continue to support this effort," the head of state added.

He declared that strengthening the NATO partnership with the European Union represents another priority, context in which he hailed the efforts of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in that respect, giving him assurances as to Romania's full support.

"Even if the Union makes relevant steps in developing the defence dimension — in which Romania wished to participate from the start, these steps must be made in strict complementarity with the Alliance. From our perspective, there is no choosing between the European Union and NATO — these are complementary options not alternatives, if we wish to have long term security," Klaus Iohannis concluded.

Romania will continue to be NATO responsible ally and trustworthy dialogue partner

President Klaus Iohannis, addressing on Monday the NATO Parliamentary Assembly plenary session taking place in Bucharest, said that Romania will continue to be a responsible ally of NATO.

"Romania will continue to be a responsible ally and a trustworthy dialogue partner, as it has proven so far," the head of the state said in the speech delivered to the NATO PA plenary hosted by the Palace of Parliament.

He pointed out that Romania has become a relevant contributor to ensuring security on a regional level, in the Euro-Atlantic space and on an international level, mentioning the allocation for defence of 2 percent of the GDP starting 2017, for at least 10 years. The head of state showed that, from this percentage, the funds destined to major military equipment acquisitions in 2017 account for almost 40 percent.

President Iohannis also brought to mind the Supreme Council for National Defence (CSAT) having approved the Romanian Army's Endowment Plan for the period 2017-2026, after Romania's Parliament approved the initiation of the procedures for eight major endowment programmes.

"Romania has committed to the implementation of all capability targets agreed upon in the Alliance. Equally, we participate in the measures to consolidate the allied presence on the eastern flank, both in the Black Sea region and in Poland," he showed.

The head of state also pointed out that Romania has assumed the role of framework-nation for the multinational brigade on its territory and has launched the Combined Joint Enhanced Training initiative, to allow allies to train troops in land, air and sea exercises.

Moreover, Iohannis pointed out that Romania has a significant contribution to the allied operations and missions, especially in the Resolute Support missions in Afghanistan and in KFOR.

"In Afghanistan we are the fourth contributor by number of troops and the second in terms of the forces for special operations. We provide concrete assistance to the partner countries both in the eastern and the southern neighbourhood. At the same time, we participate in the efforts of the International Coalition against ISIS, Romania thus concretely supporting the decisions to enhance NATO's role in the fight against terrorism. All these contributions are an investment in our own security and prove our firm commitment to ensuring sustainable peace on an international level," the head of state said.

He underscored that the NATO Parliamentary Assembly is a unique forum through its role in consolidating the transatlantic relation and in promoting the values and principles which ensure the foundation of the Alliance. Furthermore, he hailed the presence in Romania of NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, showing that his participation reconfirms the close bond between the NATO PA, which has always been a valuable dialogue partner, and the allied decision-making structures, in the current international security context.

"The current session takes place in an important moment for the Alliance, in which the process to adapt NATO to a security context marked by numerous and diverse challenges is in full swing," Iohannis said, pointing out that after the aggression against Ukraine in 2014 and following the major security concerns it generated, the Alliance has initiated a wide adaptation process.

He showed that NATO has taken consistent measures on consolidating its defence and deterrence posture, as well as on developing its role in projecting stability beyond its borders.

"In the context of the European security climate worsening, this process continued in 2016 and 2017, with a series of historic decisions related to strengthening the Alliance's eastern flank, as well as to assuming a more visible role in respect to the challenges in the southern neighbourhood. The process of implementing these decisions continues, and the national parliaments have a structural role in the member states' observing the assumed commitments, including in allotting the necessary resources for defence," Iohannis showed.