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President Iohannis meets defence ministers of "Bucharest 9 Initiative" (B9)

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Romania's President Klaus Iohannis on Tuesday welcomed at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace the defence ministers and heads of ministerial delegations from the nine member states on NATO's eastern flank, voicing conviction that the NATO summit this July will be a milestone in adjusting the Alliance for the current security challenges and threats.

The meeting took place as part of a defence ministerial meeting of the Bucharest 9 (B9) Initiative format, hosted by Romania, March 12-14, attended by NATO officials and representatives of the US Department of State and the US Department of Defense, according to a press statement released by the Presidential Administration.

"The President of Romania stressed the important role of the B9 meeting at the level of the heads of state hosted by Romania in 2015 in preparation for the NATO Summit in Warsaw and stated that there are positive premises for the results of this year's meeting of B9 chiefs of state ahead of the NATO summit in Brussels. President Klaus Iohannis also expressed his conviction that the NATO summit of 2018 will be a significant milestone in the process of adapting the Alliance to the current security challenges and threats."

The president welcomed the progress made with implementing the Forward Presence, underlining the need for decisions to be adopted at the Brussels summit to ensure the unity, coherence and consolidation of allied measures on the Eastern Front as part of NATO's deterrence and defence posture.

"Increasing and securing the mobility of the reinforcement forces are essential to increasing the efficiency of the allied deterrence and defence posture. The President of Romania reaffirmed our country's firm support for a solid transatlantic relationship, a fundamental condition for the European security and the region. In the same context, President Klaus Iohannis highlighted the importance Romania attaches to the Strategic Partnership with the United States of America and welcomed the attendance of the B9 meeting by US representative, further evidence of the US commitment to our country and European security."

Iohannis pointed out that Romania remains a "credible ally who maintains his commitments in the spirit of the goal of equitable sharing of responsibilities," both in terms of allocating 2 percent of Romania's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for defence spending, as well as the national contribution to missions and operations.

The president also reiterated the need to develop NATO-EU co-operation, stating that steps to strengthen the role of the European Union in the field of defence must take place in complementarity with NATO. This will avoid "unnecessary duplication" and joint efforts will be made in areas of common interest.

"The defense ministers and the heads of the ministerial delegations of the NATO member states from the eastern flank agreed with the assessments of President Klaus Iohannis and highlighted the usefulness and relevance of B9 format. They also put forth similar views on the agenda of the NATO Summit in Brussels, focusing on the need for continuing efforts to strengthen the Forward Presence on the Eastern Flank, to increase its efficiency," according to the Presidential Administration.

NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning Heinrich Brauss thanked Romania for contributing to the North Atlantic Alliance by constantly participating in the mission in Afghanistan, as well as for taking an active role in designing and implementing the advanced presence in the country and in the Black Sea region.

"The NATO official particularly commended Romania for its important role at the regional level and the responsible behaviour displayed in relation with its commitments inside the Alliance, while stressing the importance of the allocation by Romania of 2 percent of GDP for defence spending. The NATO representative also stressed that this year's summit will lead to an increased level of coherence, mobility and efficiency of the Allied forces and, implicitly, to strengthened NATO's deterrence and defence posture," the statement says.

US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Robert Karem highlighted the commendation for Romania's 2-percent-of-GDP defence spending allocation as well as the country's national contribution to NATO's efforts.



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