Romania is making strong contributions to the Alliance and is “helping keep NATO’s nearly one billion citizens safe,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at the plenary session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Bucharest.
The capital has been hosting the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s 63rd annual session since October 6.
Stoltenberg outlined the country’s “very strong contributions to the Alliance and to our collective defense, to our shared security.” He mentioned Romania’s contribution to the NATO operations in Afghanistan and in Kosovo, the role of host of the ballistic missile defense site in Deveselu, and the country’s commitment to spending 2% of GDP on defense each year.
The NATO Secretary General also spoke of the need to invest in defense and said that a growth in the allies’ defense spending was registered in 2015.
“Crucially, going forward, Allies need to invest in defense. At the Wales Summit, as you know in 2014, all Allies made a pledge. To stop the cuts in defense budgets. And gradually move towards spending 2% of GDP on defense within a decade. The good news is that we have seen real progress. After years of decline, in 2015 we saw a real increase in defense spending across European Allies and Canada. This continued in 2016. And this year 2017, we estimate an even greater annual increase – of 4.3% in real terms. That is three consecutive years of accelerating defense spending. The trend is up and, with your help, we will keep it up. Last year, five Allies met the 2% target. Romania has announced it will join them this year. With Latvia and Lithuania doing the same next year,” Stoltenberg said.
In his Bucharest speech, Stoltenberg referenced NATO’s role in Afghanistan and the relations with Russia. On the latter topic he argued that NATO’s “deployments are a direct response to Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine. NATO’s actions are defensive, proportionate and entirely in line with our international commitments.”
He also mentioned the importance of the dual-track approach to Russia, combining “strong defense with meaningful dialogue.”
“Russia is our neighbor. Russia is here to stay. We do not want to isolate Russia. NATO does not want a new Cold War. Our actions are designed to prevent, not provoke conflict. And we are committed to transparency and predictability, which are in everybody’s interest,” Stoltenberg said.
Speaking at the same NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Bucharest, Romania’s President Klauss Iohannis argued NATO is not an enemy of Russia and spoke of the need for a comprehensive and coherent strategy in relation with the Russian Federation.
“Our purpose is peace, not war. NATO is not seeking confrontation and it is not a threat to Russia, as the Alliance showed in Warsaw. But, in relation to Russia, a comprehensive, coherent, long-term allied strategy is needed. This needs to include dialogue, but from a powerful position of defense and discouragement,” Iohannis said, quoted by News.ro.
Iohannis said Romania will continue to be a responsible ally and a trusted dialogue partner, as it has been so far. The President said that, out of the 2% of the GDP allotted to defense, almost 40% will go into major acquisitions of military equipment in 2017. He exemplified Romania’s commitment with the Supreme Defense Council (CSAT)’s approval, this summer, of the plan to equip the national army between 2017 and 2026.
At the same time, the President argued that the trans-Atlantic partnership between North America and Europe “remains an essential dimension of our shared security.” He mentioned the meetings he had this year with US President Donald Trump, which “reconfirmed the commitment of the US for the security of our region, including of Romania’s, and for collective defense.” Iohannis also argued that “we need to further strengthen this vital relationship, by finding together solutions to current security issues but also through an equitable contribution in sharing the responsibilities we have, which also means an increase in the investment in defense.”
(Photo source: www.nato.int)