Joint press conference

with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis

  • 12 May. 2016 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 13 May. 2016 15:53

(As delivered)

Joint press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis

Thank you so much, President Klaus Iohannis.

It’s great to be back here in Bucharest, it’s great to be able to meet with you again and Romania is a very committed and staunch Ally which has contributed over many years to our collective defence and our shared security and I thank you for the strong and important Romanian commitments and contributions to NATO.

We have just had excellent discussions - on the security situation in the wider region. On our objectives for the Warsaw Summit in July. And on Romania’s strong commitment to our Alliance.

NATO has responded decisively to a changed and more challenging security environment.

We have increased our presence in the eastern part of our Alliance, including here in Romania. Romania hosts a new small headquarters, here in Bucharest, which I visited together with you last year.

And you have activated the Multinational Division South-East Headquarters, which is now being tested. And I’m looking forward to visiting these Headquarters later on this morning.Both Headquarters will boost our ability to plan and exercise, and to reinforce if needed.   

And we will do more.  

Not to threaten anyone but to protect our nations.

Because Russia has changed borders by force and continues to intimidate its neighbours. 

At the same time, we will keep channels of dialogue open with Russia. Especially in times of tension, transparency and predictability are important to reduce risks of miscalculations and accidents.

Romania also makes an important contribution to NATO’s Ballistic Missile Defence system, by hosting an Aegis Ashore site in Deveselu. 

This helps protect European Allies against missile threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area.

We will mark a new milestone today and I’m looking forward to take part in the ceremony later on today.

Romania also plays a constructive role in ensuring stability in the Black Sea region, which is important for our security.

Romania has made a major commitment– with the support of all political parties – to increase defence spending to 2% of GDP. And I welcome the increase in defence spending we have seen over the past years in Romania. That shows that you are following up on your commitments.

That is a very welcome step in the right direction. And I encourage you to continue on that road. Because the protection of our citizens is paramount.

We must have all the resources and capabilities to keep our citizens safe in a more dangerous world. 

Romania is also playing a key part in projecting stability beyond our borders. In Moldova, Georgia and in Ukraine.

You make a great contribution to our Trust Fund on Cyber Defence for Ukraine.

That shows real leadership. 

You have also shown continued commitment to our missions in Kosovo and in Afghanistan.

Our mission to train the Afghan forces remains challenging and it comes at a high cost.

I pay tribute to the two Romanian officers who were recently killed in Kandahar in the service of their duties. And I wish their wounded colleague a speedy recovery.  

So Mr President, Romania is a steadfast Ally.

And NATO has a solemn commitment to Romania’s security. 

Now and for the future.

Thank you. 

Q:  Julian Barnes from the Wall Street Journal. Mr. President do you expect Russian threats as a result of the radar inauguration and does this system make Romania safer? And Mr. Secretary General will declaring IOC at Warsaw for the missile defence system further strain relations with Russia? Will it make confrontation more likely?

JENS STOLTENBERG (NATO Secretary General):  This system is not about Russia. It’s not directed against Russia and both physics and geography makes it impossible for this system to weaken or to undermine the strategic deterrent of Russia and it makes it technically impossible to shoot down Russian intercontinental ballistic missile, missiles. So this is a system which is directed against threats coming from outside the Euro Atlantic area and Russia knows this, we have been very transparent about the plans and the intentions of this system. So there is no reason why this should increase tensions and the threats we have seen from Russia are unjustified, they are irresponsible and they know that this is a system which is no way directed against Russia.

KLAUS IOHANNIS (Romanian President):  [Speaking in Romanian].

Q:  [Female journalist speaking in Romanian].

JENS STOLTENBERG:  We have seen reports about this, the [inaudible] for some time now and I think that this is part of a pattern, it’s part of a pattern we have seen over several years about a more assertive Russia, about Russian significant military build-up, investments in modern defence systems and capabilities and more exercises and more military presence close to NATO borders. But more important we have seen a Russia which is willing to use military force to change borders in Europe, illegally annexing Crimea and destabilizing Eastern Ukraine. And it’s because of this pattern over some years that NATO has responded and we have responded by implementing the biggest reinforcement to our collective defence since the end of the Cold War. With more presence in the eastern part of the alliance of NATO forces, NATO capabilities, also here in Romania and with increased capabilities when it comes to reinforcement if needed. And what NATO does is a direct response to the aggressive actions of Russia in Ukraine, we have to respond when we see this behaviour over a long period of time but at the same time what we do is defensive, it’s proportionate and it’s fully in line with our international obligations. And NATO does not seek confrontation with Russia, we don’t seek a new Cold War and we will continue to strive for a more constructive relationship with Russia and we think that there is no contradiction between a strong defence, predictable and firm behaviour from the NATO side and at the same time to strive for dialogue, transparency and risk reductions because we are also seeing that the increased military presence along our borders also increases the risks of incidents and accidents. We saw the downing of the Russian plane over Turkey and we have seen incidents in the Baltic Sea where we have seen unsafe behaviour of Russian planes close to U.S. ships and planes. So we need this combination of strength with political engagement.

KLAUS IOHANNIS:  [Speaking in Romanian].