by NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană at the Black Sea Summit

  • 01 Jul. 2022 -
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  • Mis à jour le: 04 Jul. 2022 11:55

(As delivered)

Thank you so much, Senator Wicker, dear members of the US Senate, the US House of Representatives. We are honoured and privileged to welcome you here in Romania on the Black Sea shore in Constanța. Minister Aurescu, thank you so much for co-chairing and for supporting this issue.

I also come straight from Madrid. We usually say that NATO summits are historic but this one was a truly transformative summit of NATO. I would say probably the most important summit of our great organization in generations. Also because in generations, we didn't have war in Europe. In generations, the security architecture in Europe seemed more or less predictable. Russia today is the number one threat to our Alliance. Our Strategic Concept adopted by our leaders recognizes that.

We also consider the rise of China as an important challenge to our interests, values, and security. We also consider the Black Sea as one of the critical areas of strategic relevance to NATO. As my friends and colleagues from the Aspen Institute and the German Marshall Fund next week will discuss in a Black Sea forum, the Black Seas today are sort of a vortex. In micro the Black Sea is reflecting the broader competition between revisionist and brutal and aggressive Russia and our democratic world. This is why this region is reflected in the Strategic Concept as a region of maximum strategic importance for NATO.

I would like also to take a few minutes to thank and congratulate my good friend Oleksii Reznikov the Minister of Defence of Ukraine who will be, I think, through VTC with us. I talked to Oleksii when he was with us at the Defence Ministerial meeting. I want to thank him and the Ukrainian military for the successful offensive on the serpent Island, which led to the liberation of this occupied important piece of strategic locations in the Black Sea. This is a first step in re-establishing the freedom of movement, shipping and navigation in the Black Sea. This is very important for NATO in providing security to the riparian Allies, and starting to really implement the decisions we took in Madrid. Oleksii, congratulations to you and your brave women and men in uniform in Ukraine.

Also, we decided at the NATO summit yesterday in Madrid to continue to support Ukraine. Their fight is our fight. We will continue to support Ukraine militarily, financially, in humanitarian ways. Let me thank the US Congress that in a bipartisan way has appropriated a significant amount of resources to the brave, heroic fight of the Ukrainian people and army. We owe you a great deal of respect and gratitude. This is what America is all about. Leading by example.

As President Biden said yesterday at the summit, we now see NATO re-galvanized, re-energized and have found again a sense of purpose. This is a historic moment for all our democratic world. I want to thank our American friends and allies for the impeccable bipartisan support for our great Alliance. Please do continue. This is the right way to conduct world affairs and to maintain and support our values of freedom, rule of law, and human dignity.

Let me say just one word on something that probably will be part of our discussion today. Of course, I salute the decisions by the US to strengthen their presence in Romania and Poland. Two additional US destroyers will be based in in Spain. This is something that we all appreciate. We also appreciate the decisions by France and by the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal and Poland to raise the level of the Battle Group in Romania to the level of a brigade. That's great news. I want to congratulate our Italian allies for leading the Battle Group in Bulgaria. I want to thank the Czech Republic for leading the Battle Group in Slovakia. I would like to thank Germany for leading and investing massively in Lithuania and Canada in Latvia and the UK in Estonia, and the US in Poland.

But let me try to tell you something that we also have decided in Madrid and it didn't take the headlines that much. The headlines are clear. But there is something that our leaders in more than close to 40 decisions that they took. We took decisions not only on deterrence and defence, not only in supporting Ukraine, not only in supporting Georgia and the Republic of Moldova and Bosnia and Herzegovina, not only inviting the leaders of Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea for the first time ever to a NATO summit, not only discussing about the risk coming from the south. And yet President Johannis was right yesterday at the summit saying that the Black Sea is a natural continuum with the Mediterranean. It is not the Black Sea and the Azov Sea and the other Seas. It is one sea. All seas are connected.

But something that our leaders have decided is also strengthening our resilience. Supply chains, infrastructures, military mobility, fuel, things that are very important to us. We also have taken a decision on fighting hybrid activities by Russia. Today in NATO, a severe attack by Russia or anyone else against NATO on hybrid, on cyber or from space could trigger Article Five.

We also took decisions when it comes to fighting disinformation. And I'ld like to talk to our American friends and to my Romanian friends and regional friends about something that we'll know will happen. Russia doesn't have the strength today to threaten NATO. We are rock solid. We are defending every square inch of our territory and our populations. When it comes to the combination of cyber and disinformation and basically trying to change the mood and the mind of our democratic societies they will continue to be very aggressive. We have to do a better job in fighting disinformation. Now they're trying to turn not only our own countries but also in Africa in the Middle East, the ideas that the famine, which is looming, is the fourth of the sanctions that we imposed on Russia because of the war. That's a blatant lie. But we have to do a better job in communicating that.

I will also mention something about our democracies and I know that the Helsinki Commission is basically about this. There is some form of conversation that some people believe that authoritarian regimes have more discipline and can implement decisions, thus being more efficient than our democratic societies. Let me tell you something that I shared with our Ukrainian friends. I've never seen in my relatively long life already such a re-galvanization of our democracies in front of Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine. Our young people in train stations and airports all over Europe and North America fundraising for charities to help Ukrainian people. We didn't tell Spacelink or Microsoft or anyone else to come to the rescue, but without them the cyber-attack against the satellite that was providing telecom for Ukraine, which was incapacitated by Russia in a few days only the private sector came in and substituted this indispensable broadband internet access.

So I will close in saying this. I think we have to make this moment a wakeup call for all of us. Not only to strengthen our deterrence and defence. Not only to be investing more in our defence, but also to use this moment to re-energize our democratic societies. The Holy triangle between government, private sector, and civil society is our strength. I think here in Romania, my home country, a country that has come out of a brutal dictatorship, a difficult transition. I think for us, putting this holy triangle to work is the most important thing that we have.

In closing, let me say that we'll continue to pay special attention to this region, to the Black Sea. We will continue to help Ukraine and Georgia. I want to thank our allies from the Black Sea NATO shores in Bulgaria and Turkey. Turkey plays a critical role in this region. They played a very solid role in basically denying Russian warships additional passage to strengthen the fleet in the Black Sea. I also welcome the efforts by Romania and Turkey and others to facilitate the grain exports from the ports of Ukraine. Thank you so much for inviting us. It was a long trip from Madrid to Constanța but it's worth taking such a trip. Mr. Chairman, thank you so much for having us.