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Speech held by the Minister of National Defence, Mihai Fifor, at the Defence and Security Committee of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Bucharest October 7th, 2017


ROMANIA’S DEFENSE PRIORITIES IN THE CONTEXT OF THE SECURITY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE WIDER BLACK SEA AREA

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honor for me to be given the opportunity to address such a distinguished audience as well to welcome you to Bucharest.
I believe that today’s meeting provides us with the occasion to discuss key aspects related to the current security situation in our area and beyond and to offer our perspective on the ways to address them, through the lens of our national defense policy framework as contribution to the common efforts of the international community towards coping with current threats and challenges.
My intention is to touch upon a few key points mainly related to the specifics of our regional security, their impact on our strategic thinking. I will also try to emphasize our perspective on the existing link between those challenges and the transformation processes that take place at the level of NATO and EU as well as their impact on different regional arrangements.
In that vein, my first thought would be that in today’s world, more than ever, an integrated and multifaceted approach to security is key to ensure a high rate of success when it comes to implementing our national security and defense objectives and promoting common values of the European and euro-Atlantic community.
From a geographical standpoint our country finds itself in the wider Black Sea region as well as in the South East Europe area, and by consequence our strategic profile cannot be separated from them.
Therefore, we consider our responsibility to contribute to their stability and security, which are essential prerequisites for a long lasting development, and in this respect we do not just promote their interests to the Euro-Atlantic fora, as member of both NATO and the EU, but also contribute to raising the regions’ profile through cooperation and self inclusiveness. Therefore, we consider important to promote common approaches to the matter, while also trying to increase Allied and European presence in those regions.
The wider Black Sea area is currently deeply challenged by the actions of Russia, its assertiveness, military build-up in Crimea, including the deployment of offensive capabilities. The involvement of the Russian Federation in the Ukrainian crisis represents the strongest degradation of the European order system with international impact since the end of the Cold War, pointing out to Moscow’s intentions, based on a mix of classical military power and hybrid warfare, aimed at re-establishing its spheres of influence.
In this context, the security situation in the region continues to be fluid and unpredictable. It is recognized by everyone that the illegal annexation of Crimea and its present militarization has shifted the military balance in the Black Sea basin and significantly increased Russia’s strategic footprint in the region.
In our view, we have to continuously and carefully deal with the consequence of the situation. In this respect, being successful in our common efforts entails two basic conditions: the ability to predict the developments and further evolutions, that requires a thorough approach in terms of situational awareness arrangements, both at national and multinational levels; and beyond that, having the right means and capabilities to cope with the consequences if necessary, which translates nowadays into substantial efforts of adaptation, alongside our ability to have the appropriate approach to public messaging on the matter.
In that respect, our security and defense system ongoing transformation is also part of the overall Alliance’s adaptation efforts, item that I will touch upon in more detailed manner later on.

Distinguished Audience,
In order to provide you with a better understanding of our endeavors in the field of security and defense, I would like to briefly address the key aspects of our national security and defense policy framework as it stands today.
It could be rather descriptive but it helps in shaping a better picture of our transformation and adaptation efforts.
Our defense policy objectives are being implemented in the framework of our national defence planning documents, namely the National Defence Strategy and the Government Program. Based on these strategic documents, the MoD issues the White Paper on Defence where the following defense policy objectives are stated:
1. Development of robust defence capabilities
2. Increasing credibility at strategic level at NATO and EU
3. Strengthening of our strategic partnerships
4. Develop international cooperation
5. Provide support to other public authorities in the management of emergency situations

As you can notice, our efforts are both oriented towards the development of our national capabilities as well as the implementation of our commitments and common decisions within the regional and international organizations.
In this vein, a particular point of interest for us is the NATO adaptation process, stemming from the decisions of the summits in Wales and Warsaw, in a 360º approach. In this respect, a coherent approach across the Alliance when it comes to deterrence and defence continues to be key. It is our belief that continued efforts in the adaptation context should stay a priority on NATO agenda, alongside the efforts to enhance NATO’s role in projecting stability.

Romania has assumed an active role within NATO, as a prerequisite condition for promoting its national interests at allied level and for integrating its security concerns in the decision making process of the Alliance. Thus, Romania’s added value in the Alliance consists in the participation to common military operations and in making the best use of its geo-strategic position between the Western Balkans and the Eastern neighborhood, the Black Sea region and the Southern Caucasus.
Let me stress once again, as a NATO member situated on the Eastern flank of the Alliance, Romania has been constantly advocating for a unitary approach of the allied forward presence along the entire Eastern flank.
As such, Romania hosts, following the NATO Summit in Wales in 2014, two allied command and control elements: the NATO Force Integration Unit and the Multinational Division South-East, and, more recently, the Multinational Brigade agreed within the Allied decisions in Warsaw 2016.
In this context, I would like to thank to the Allies for contributing to the establishment of these units.
As a contribution to a strengthened Alliance’s footprint, Romania has succeeded in creating an Allied tailored forward presence in the Southern part of the Eastern Flank on all three dimensions: on land, we established a Romanian-led multinational framework brigade already mentioned above; secondly, the establishment of the Task Group Black Sea Region in MARCOM; and on air dimension an enhanced air policing was possible thanks to the United Kingdom, Canada and Portugal contributions throughout 2017.
We commend once again their efforts and we hope other Allies will come next year in support of tFP air.
At the same time, as part of our commitment to the Allied decisions, as well as in support of a unitary vision on the Eastern flank I would like to mention also that Romania participates in the US-led Battlegroup in Poland in the framework of the enhanced forward presence (eFP). Our troops are already there in the field and they are doing a great job.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Beyond the forward presence-related aspects, my country is very concerned about the emerging security threats and is actively involved in the allied effort to establish NATO’s role in countering these new threats and challenges to allied security – terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, cyber attacks, and energy security risks.
To sum up, I would like to underline once again that Romania supports and contributes to the transformation process of the Alliance, meant to provide the Alliance with flexible and rapidly deployable capabilities, able to counter the emerging threats. In this respect, Romania participates in allied multinational projects in the framework of the Smart Defence Initiative and is engaged in the development of major capabilities projects such as the allied Missile Defence system, the Alliance Ground Surveillance System, the NATO Airborne Early Warning capability and the Strategic Airlift Capability.
The most important influence on the security of the Black Sea is generated by Russia’s new assertive approach and aggressive behavior in relations with its neighbors and towards NATO and the EU.
The illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and the meddling in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine have rendered important transformations and challenges at the level of the Black Sea strategic reality and new threats against its bordering states.
The wider Black Sea area traditionally represents an area of confrontation between the geopolitical interests of the West and those of the Russian Federation, especially after the USSR dissolution, and the developments that we witnessed last year have led to an exacerbation of this conflict. The involvement of the Russian Federation in the Ukrainian crisis represents the strongest degradation of the European order system with international impact since the end of the Cold War, pointing out Moscow’s intentions, based on classical military power and hybrid warfare, aimed at re-establishing its spheres of influence.

Distinguished Audience,
The security situation in the region continues to be fluid and unpredictable. It is recognized by everyone that the illegal annexation of Crimea and its present militarization has shifted the military balance in the Black Sea basin and significantly increased Russia’s strategic footprint in the region.
Therefore, we need to permanently convey our message of unity, solidarity and determination to address the security challenges in accordance with the provisions of the international law.

Thank you! I will gladly answer any further questions you might have.

Press Department

 

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