at the joint press conference on the occasion of Exercise Steadfast Defender held at the headquarters of the Multinational Division South-East (HQ MND-SE)
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,
Dear Minister Ciucă, Air Chief Marshal Peach, General Petrescu,
Minister Ciucă, we are looking forward to the Defence Ministers Meeting at NATO tomorrow that is paving a way to a very successful NATO Summit on June 14.
It is a great pleasure to be here, together with all of you in the Headquarters Multinational Division South East.
I would also like to thank the Commander, Brigadier General Cristian-Daniel Dan, and his wonderful team, for hosting us today and doing such a brilliant job on behalf of our Alliance.
We are facing the most challenging security environment in a generation.
And NATO has responded with the biggest adaptation of our collective defence in a generation.
Because when the world changes, NATO is changing. We have done it successfully over the past seventy-two years of our existence.
We are doing it today again with the same level of determination and the same level of success.
This very HQ is a prime example of NATO’s adaptation and embodies the collaborative nature of our Alliance.
It was set up to facilitate reinforcements in the eastern part of our Alliance.
But also to boost training and exercising.
Steadfast Defender 2021 is NATO’s biggest exercise of the year.
With 20 ships.
Over 9,000 personnel.
From 20 Allies.
And if we include the rest of our staff it’s a much more massive participation from all Allies, including from our close partners, Finland and Sweden.
This exercise is long-planned.
It is not directed against anybody.
And it is purely defensive.
We train in peacetime to make sure our forces can work together in crisis and in conflict.
And to keep our people safe at all times. 20 million Romanians, one billion citizens across our Alliance of 30 nations.
Secretary General Stoltenberg stated in a press conference at the beginning of Steadfast Defender in Portugal just the other day, Sir Stuart Peach was there with the Sec Gen.
He also mentioned the fact that I would like to reemphasize here today in Bucharest, that Steadfast Defender is just an expression of the strong deterrence and defence posture our of Alliance.
And the propositions that Jens Stoltenberg has made for NATO 2030 and what we hope will be the approval of our leaders, including by President Iohannis on June 14, will be basically giving a broad spectrum of adaptation, deterrence and defence and adapting to a changing world in the decades to come.
And what we are doing in these days, including in Romania, we train to send a very clear message.
To our own nations, and to anyone who might want to challenge us.
NATO is ready and able to protect all Allies, against any threat.
Steadfast Defender 2021 is not only a great example of NATO’s strength, but also of our transparency.
NATO strives for transparency and predictability regarding our military exercises. We announce them well in advance, and details are published on our website.
We speak openly to the press and we do so to help avoid misunderstandings, incidents or accidents.
During the month of May, NATO forces have deployed in different exercises across the Euro-Atlantic area –
from Spain to Romania, from the US to Portugal.
And what, let’s say, more symbolical, geographical statement it is that we started in Portugal and we are ending, basically, on the Black Sea. This is a symbol of the coherent deterrence and defence that NATO is having.
During the month of May, and now here in Romania, our 4,000-strong high readiness forces, led by Turkey, has deployed successfully to Romania. General Petrescu I think will say more about this.
And you will witness this tomorrow at the Joint Training Facility in Cincu, Romania.
Let me thank the men and women who have come from across the Alliance, from North America and Europe, to take part in this exercise.
Steadfast Defender shows that we stand together in an unpredictable world.
And sends a clear message that we are ready to respond to any threat from any direction.
And in closing, let me also thank Romania for the invaluable contribution to allied security. Romania has been a steadfast and a staunch Ally.
I would like to thank the brave men and women in uniform from Romania that have served in all NATO missions and operations, sometimes unfortunately with a very steep sacrifice on their personal lives.
As Mr. Ciucă has said, we are now winding down from Afghanistan. This doesn’t mean that the end of the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan is the end of NATO’s engagement with the nation of Afghanistan.
Also let me thank, in the end, to the men and women in uniform in Romania and across the Alliance, half a million military personnel from NATO countries, have been at the forefront of fighting the pandemic.
And also here, in Romania, the role of our military was exemplary in fighting this terrible pandemic.
Thank you so much for having us and we look forward to a very successful NATO Summit on June 14.