Joint press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg together with the President of Romania, Klaus Werner Iohannis

  • 09 Oct. 2017 -
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  • Last updated: 09 Oct. 2017 14:49

(As delivered)

Thank you so much, President Iohannis, dear Klaus. It’s really a great pleasure to be back here in Bucharest and to once again visit this very beautiful palace.

Romania is an influential and steadfast NATO Ally and I appreciate very much our cooperation that you and I have developed together.

We have just concluded a very constructive discussion, in preparation for our next Summit in Brussels next July. We discussed the challenges we face and how NATO is responding.

NATO is an Alliance that keeps its promises. We are implementing the biggest reinforcement to our collective defence since the end of the Cold War. This includes our four battlegroups in the Baltics and Poland, and our Forward Presence here in the South-east of the Alliance.

On land, our presence is built around the multinational brigade in Craiova, which Romania leads and I thank you so much for hosting the brigade and I look forward to meeting our troops there, together with you, later on today when we are going to visit Craiova.

In the air, Canada and Italy are reinforcing the efforts of Romania and Bulgaria to keep NATO airspace safe.

And in the Black Sea, we are present with more ships and more naval exercises. 

Together, these measures send a clear message: NATO is strong and NATO is united.

Romania is also essential to NATO’s Ballistic Missile Defence, to which the Alliance is fully committed.

And Romania is essential to our missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan. I have just returned from a visit to Afghanistan and met the Romanian troops in Kandahar. They are making a real difference, helping to train Afghan security forces to secure their country.

Today, we discussed how important it is that we stay the course in Afghanistan, to prevent Afghanistan ever again becoming a safe haven for terrorism. And I really thank Romania for your strong contribution to our presence in Afghanistan.

Let me also thank Romania for your leadership in cyber defence, including NATO’s Cyber Defence Trust Fund for Ukraine.

Last but not least, I commend your announcement to spend 2% of GDP on defence this year and your commitment to maintain that level of spending for the next ten years. Romania is leading by example, helping to give the Alliance the capabilities we need and ensuring fairer burden-sharing.

So Mr. President, thank you again for Romania’s strong contribution to NATO and for hosting me here today.

I look forward to working closely together with you as we prepare for next year’s Summit in Brussels next year.

Thank you so much.

Q:         Mr Stoltenberg, how does NATO see the recent decision of the US Senate to not supplement the budget for the AAR defence capacity for Deveselu, which is under NATO command?  And in this case does it affect the efficiency of the shield?  Thank you.

A:         [Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General]:  No, this is two very different things. The NATO ballistic missile defence system is developing as planned and I took part in the inauguration of the missile defence side in Deveselu when we inaugurated that last year and we are continuing to develop that missile defence as planned. 
Then in the United States there is discussion about some additional capabilities, but that’s on top of what is already decided and which is now implemented.  And I inaugurated the site in Deveselu.  It’s extremely important for the whole of NATO that we continue to strengthen our missile defence so we are also now building a similar site in Poland which is going to be in place in 2019.  Or perhaps even next year.  So we are now working on that second site, meaning that we are following up exactly as planned when it comes to the missile defence and NATO’s fully committed to the missile defence, including the site in Romania.

A:         [Klaus Iohannis, President of Romania]:  Just to say something on this topic.
[Interpreted from Romanian into English]
Understood by some people who are preoccupied with Romania’s security.  The fact that people are preoccupied is excellent, but I would like to clarify something here:  the programme at Deveselu goes on as planned.  So the essence, the core of the programme’s plan is financed and it goes on. 
There have been members of various armed forces who wanted to have a discussion on whether we need to further defend the facility so it not the nucleus, the core of the facility itself under discussion, but having supplementary defence of the facility itself.  This is an issue that must be better analyzed because these systems are not part of the core of the defence unit and can - if not well communicated - they can raise new fears or we cannot analyze this within a few months and what is not wanted - and this is what the recent decision in the US was about - is to do something very, very fast before analyzing it.  The conclusion is that the Deveselu programme is operational and is being developed according to the plan.  Supplementary facilities meant for further defence that have not yet been planned beyond the one in Deveselu must be better analyzed before they implement it.  I think I was pretty clear about it.  Nobody has to panic; the situation in Deveselu is excellent. 

Q:         Russia has quite a – what is said to be quite a large presence in Crimea by militarization of the area.  Why should a brigade-size force in Romania make any difference?  Thank you.

A:         [NATO Secretary General]:  Well, I think it is important to understand that the multinational brigade in Romania is only one part of our response to a more assertive Russia which has increased its military presence also in the Black Sea region, and especially in Crimea. 
The multinational brigade is important because it is multinational so it sends a clear signal of NATO resolve, NATO presence, and it sends a signal that an attack on one Ally – on Romania – will be regarded as an attack on the whole Alliance. 
But, in addition to the brigade we have also increased our presence in the air with enhanced air policing, with contributions from Italy and from Canada.  And we have increased our naval presence in the Black Sea with more port calls, with more naval exercises and more naval presence. 
Then, of course, NATO deterrence and NATO defence is not only based on the forces we have in place – which is the Romanian home defence forces and also the NATO brigade and the NATO presence in this region, but is also our ability to reinforce. And we have significantly increased our ability to reinforce:  we have tripled the size of the NATO Response Force to 40,000 troops; we have a Spearhead Force able to move within days, and we have also enhanced - or strengthened the link between Romanian home defence forces and NATO forces with the small headquarters we have established – NFIUs: NATO Force Integration Units - which we have established in the eastern part of the Alliance, including in Bucharest.  So, we have done many things partly increasing our forward presence, also in Romania, but also increasing our readiness – our ability to reinforce quickly if needed with high readiness and more ready forces.

Q:         A question for the Secretary General and for the President of Romania.  Currently, there is a debate within the European Union on a common European defence.  In this context, do you consider these talks affect in any way the Alliance’s activities especially the forward presence on the eastern flank?  Thank you.

A:         [NATO Secretary General]:  In NATO we welcome stronger European defence as long as stronger European defence is about strengthening defences in Europe.  Meaning that more defence spending, more investments in European defence capabilities, more exercises, more coordination of our efforts between European allies – that’s something which we highly welcome.  So strong European defence is good. 
The only thing we have to avoid is duplication, and the President also alluded to that.  We need to avoid duplication between NATO and the European Union.  We need to avoid EU developing command structures which are overlapping NATO command structures, and we have to make sure that what the EU does is complementary to what NATO does.  So as long as we make sure that this is about complementing NATO, not competing with NATO, then we strongly welcome a stronger European defence. 

A:         [President of Romania]:  [Interpreted from Romanian into English]
The European Union is now formalizing a large concept that is called PESCO, which is meant for improving common defence capacity and defence industry in the European Union.  This must be very well understood:  the European Union through its members wants to become stronger in the field of defence, but this does not mean at all that they want to develop something that is against or in parallel to NATO.  That is why our programmes are complementary with NATO’s programmes.  They complete and consolidate each other.  They have not raced against each other, and they do not develop in any way in parallel.  There is no intention for a European alternative to NATO.  There is an intention for a European Union that is stronger within NATO.  Thank you.