Joint press conference
with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis at Cotroceni Palace
Thank you, President Iohannis. My friend Klaus.
It is really a great pleasure to be back here in Bucharest and once again meet with you.
And I would also like to thank you for your strong personal commitment to our Alliance, to our transatlantic security, cooperation. And also the leadership you show in NATO. So thank you so much for once again hosting me here in Bucharest.
We just had an excellent meeting where we discussed a wide range of issues which are of importance for all NATO Allies. NATO is adapting to a more unpredictable and uncertain security environment. And Romania’s role in that is of great importance. I also thank you for Romanian’s contributions to the adaption of NATO responding to a more challenging security environment.
This year is Romania’s fifteenth anniversary of NATO membership.
And today, you contribute to our shared security in many ways, and in many different places.
In Afghanistan, hundreds of Romanian troops help stabilize the country and deny safe haven to international terrorists.
In the Western Balkans, your forces contribute to greater security as part of KFOR.
In Poland, Romanian troops deter aggression as part of our multinational battlegroup.
Here in Romania, you host a site for NATO’s Ballistic Missile Defence.
You also make essential contributions to Black Sea security.
Including the Romanian-led multinational battlegroup in Craiova,
And a strong naval presence.
To keep our people safe in a more dangerous world, we need to invest in defence.
So I welcome Romania’s plans to spend 2 percent of GDP on defence this year.
And to modernise your armed forces over the next decade.
Modern capabilities and contributions to our missions and operations make NATO stronger.
And they make Romania safer.
I also congratulate you on your first presidency of the Council of the European Union.
And thank Romania for making NATO-EU cooperation a priority during your presidency.
President Iohannis and I also discussed the INF Treaty. Russia has deployed a new type of missile in violation of that treaty. This missile, the SSC-8, is nuclear-capable, hard to detect, and able to reach European cities.
At the NATO Foreign Ministerial meeting in December, the United States – with the strong support of Allies – announced they would give Russia 60 days to return to compliance with the INF Treaty.
That period will end in two days. And unfortunately, we have seen no signs of a breakthrough. So we must prepare for a world without the INF Treaty. And NATO’s military authorities have started looking into the consequences. NATO must maintain credible and effective deterrence and defence.
At the same time, Allies are firmly committed to arms control. And we must look at new initiatives. Because a new arms race would be in no-one’s interest.
As you mentioned, we also discussed Afghanistan. All Allies support an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process. And we welcome the efforts of US Special Representative Khalilzad. This was one of the main topics I discussed with Secretaries Pompeo and Shanahan in Washington last weekend. NATO continues to help create the conditions for a peaceful settlement. Troops from 39 nations currently contribute to our Resolute Support Mission.
With up to half coming from non-US Allies. We came in together. And we will stay together, until the time is right to draw down our forces together.
Afghanistan will be an important issue for the meeting of NATO Defence Ministers in Brussels in February.
We also discussed NATO’s continued commitment to our Open Door policy. And I want to congratulate both Skopje and Athens.
And I commend Prime Minister Tsipras and Prime Minister Zaev for their courage and strong leadership, in making the name dispute a thing of the past. Now we look to the future.
I expect all 29 Allies will sign the Accession Protocol soon. Then Skopje will take part in NATO meetings as an invitee. Once all 29 Allies have ratified the Protocol, we will be able to welcome the Republic of North Macedonia as NATO's 30th member.
This will consolidate peace and stability in the region, and Europe as a whole.
So President Iohannis, thank you again for Romania’s strong commitment to NATO.
I look forward to welcoming you to a meeting of Allied leaders later this year.