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Speech held by the Chief of General Staff, General Nicolae Ciucă, at the Defence and Security Committee of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Bucharest October 7th, 2017


Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished members of the Assembly,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour for me to be here today and have the opportunity to contribute a few considerations on the security in the Black Sea Region, which could support your constructive debates.

During the last two decades, the Black Sea region gradually transformed itself form an area with win-win opportunities, to one of a zero-sum game. In this area, the economic, political and military interests always collided, while a number of mechanisms and tools to facilitate dialogue, cooperation and a better understanding among different actors were established at regional level.

Consequently, regional security calls for continuous awareness of the national decision-makers from the region, but also of the Euro-Atlantic security forums and organisations. Given the increased volatility of the operational environment, the outcome of some of the current regional security challenges is still complex.

As minister Fifor has just presented, the security situation in the South of NATO Eastern flank remains complicated not only for the countries in the region, but also for the entire NATO Eastern flank.

Allow me to add a few more considerations.
The latest developments in the Black Sea region are pointing out a degrading security situation, as the outcome of multiple triggers, including Russia’s actions and its military posture, the ongoing Ukrainian crisis, as well as the growing transnational threats originating from terrorist activities and migration. The rise of violent non-state actors and criminal networks build up additional pressure.

Other issues of concern are related to those threats generated by ongoing crises in the Middle East. The Balkans region serves as a transit area for radical elements heading towards Western Europe and there is the risk that radical elements could plan terrorist acts in the receiving states.

Taking into account all these developments, which contribute to destabilization of the region, it is clear that all NATO member states should maintain a high level of awareness.
Against this background, we consider that the Black Sea Region will remain a complex area, with an unstable security environment and multiple security challenges which increase the risks and threats not only for the littoral countries, Romania included, but also for the entire NATO Eastern flank.

Indeed, NATO decided to address all these concerns. Let’s recall that the Allied decisions made at Wales Summit to implement the Readiness Action Plan, following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, and then at Warsaw Summit, to achieve a robust deterrence and defence posture, represented probably the most consistent reinforcement of NATO’s collective defence since the fall of Berlin Wall.

Romania has dedicated a great deal of efforts to contribute to NATO’s cohesiveness, determination, and robustness. Since 2016, The Multinational Division South-East HQ and the Romanian NATO Force Integration Unit are up to speed, as parts of NATO Force Structure.

This year, both MND-SE HQ and the the Romanian NFIU participated in two major exercises, respectively NOBLE JUMP and SABER GUARDIAN, which demonstrated Allies’ capability to project forces in the area and reinforced deterrence measures in the Black Sea Region.

Also, at Warsaw Summit, the Heads of States and Governments decided a set of measures designed to ensure a predictable and credible Allied deterrence and defence posture, including through establishing an Allied enhanced forward presence (eFP) for the Northern part of the Eastern Flank and a tailored forward presence (tFP) for the Southern part.

The Forward Presence along the Eastern Flank considered the nature of the threat, and was predominantly land-centric in the Northern part, and with land, maritime and air dimensions for the South-East.

The eFP include four persistent Multinational Battle groups, in Poland and the Baltic States. In the Southern part of the Eastern Flank, tFP consists of a land presence - the Multinational Brigade, an Air Combined Training Initiative, Maritime Initiatives for the Black Sea, and a Combined Joint Enhanced Training initiative.

The implementation of Forward Presence today is progressing well. We consider that the Forward Presence builds on a continuous and coherent set of NATO measures on the whole Eastern Flank. The Multinational Battle Groups are now operational in Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Romania is contributing with an Air Defence Company in the US Battle Group operating in Poland, alongside US and UK soldiers.

I use this opportunity to report positive developments in the Black Sea Region, in all land, air and maritime initiatives:
- The MN BDE, based in Craiova has reached the initial capability in April. The brigade will achieve the final capability in November 2018. Allied Nations have contributed with staff in the HQ and with affiliated troops to train together.
- In the air initiative, UK has already contributed to enhanced air policing and trained with our forces, flying Typhoon fighter jets from MK Airbase, from May to August. Currently, Canada and Portugal are flying fighter jets from MK and Fetești Airbases, until December;
- In the maritime domain, a Regional Maritime Coordination Function was established in Allied Maritime Command, supporting coordination among current contributing Naval Forces HQs. Also, the NATO Combined Maritime Framework for cooperation in training, interoperability and maritime situational awareness has been established;
- The Combined Joint Enhanced Training is being developed as we speak. CJET is designed as a regional platform for cooperation, aimed at ensuring a continuous Allied presence in the region, through participation in exercises and training activities.

As I mentioned earlier, the security situation from the Baltic Sea through the Black Sea and into the Mediterranean is not seen merely as a regional issue, but it is of concern to the entire Alliance. Considering the threats towards the Eastern Flank as a whole, NATO deterrence and defence posture rely on coherence and consistency. Hence, the eFP and tFP are linked and should be approached as a single Forward Presence.

In order to contribute the security of the whole Alliance, we commit very seriously, by strengthening the deterrence and defence posture on NATO’s whole Eastern Flank, and also by participating in operations, in defence planning, and in building new capabilities.

We stand committed to the stabilization of Afghanistan where we will continue to be a major contributor in 2018. We also support the International Community’s efforts for the security and stability of Iraq and Syria, and for the neutralization of DAESH and terrorist and extremist organizations.

At national level, Romania stepped up the process of consolidating its armed forces modernization and improved its forces’ readiness, preparedness and interoperability.

A noticeable effort is Romania’s commitment to allocate, as of this year, for the next 10 years, 2% of GDP to the defence budget. The share allocated in 2017, to major acquisitions and Research & Development is above the NATO guideline of 20 %.

The transformation of Romanian Military, sustained by procurement of modern defence systems and enhanced training programs, support the development of national defence capabilities, in order to prevent, deter and defend against external aggression.

Enhancing Romanian Armed Forces’ operational capacity, and developing the forces and capabilities committed to NATO and EU are also important steps in building a credible deterrent posture of the Eastern flank of the Alliance.

All these being said, I believe that NATO remains the essential transatlantic forum for collective defence, projection of stability and constructive dialogue.

I would also like to reiterate Romania’s strong resolve to contribute to NATO efforts in the region and to be instrumental in the process of strengthening the deterrence and defence posture on NATO’s whole Eastern flank, thus contributing to the security of the whole North Atlantic Alliance.

Distinguished audience, please accept my gratitude for your attention and I am looking forward to further discussions.

Press Department

 

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Actualizare: 12.12.2017