Joint press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with the Prime Minister of Romania Nicolae Ciucă

  • 21 Dec. 2021 -
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  • Last updated 21-Dec-2021 17:13

(As delivered)

Prime Minister Ciucă, 

Dear Nicolae, it is great to see you again. Welcome back to the NATO Headquarters.

You have served as Defence Minister, you have served as the Chief of the Romanian Armed Forces.
You have participated many times in many different NATO meetings here at the NATO Headquarters.
So you know the organization and you know the Alliance very well. 
But this is your first visit to NATO as Prime Minister. 
So therefore, congratulations on your appointment. And welcome back to NATO. 
And I really look forward to working with you in your new capacity.

Romania is a reliable and committed NATO Ally, and plays an essential role in Black Sea security, including with the Romanian-led, multinational brigade in Craiova, air policing and maritime deployments. 
You help to deter aggression as part of our multinational battlegroup in Poland.
You host a key site for our ballistic missile defence. 
You help build stability in the Western Balkans through our KFOR peacekeeping mission, and you support our partners, including Moldova and Ukraine. 

Romania also leads by example when it comes to investing in defence. 
All of this contributes to our shared security, and it makes our Alliance stronger and safer. 
This is especially important as we face an increasingly complex security environment. Today we discussed Russia's military build-up in and around Ukraine. 

Despite international calls for transparency and de-escalation, the build-up continues. 
We continue to assess the implications for Alliance security. 
NATO will always respond in a determined way to any threat to our security, including through strengthening our collective defence posture as necessary. 

We will do what it takes to ensure the security and defence of all Allies. 
And we have made clear that any further aggression against Ukraine would carry a very high price.
We will also continue to support our close partner, Ukraine, politically and practically, and we stand up for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. 

And we stand up also for Ukraine's right to choose its own path. 
The age of spheres of influence is over. 

We remain ready for meaningful dialogue with Russia. And I intend to call a new meeting of the NATO-Russia Council as soon as possible in the New Year. 
Any dialogue with Russia needs to be based on the core principles of European security and to address NATO's concerns about Russia's actions.
And it needs to take place in consultation with NATO's European partners, including with Ukraine. 

Prime Minister once again, welcome to NATO. 
It is good to see you and once again, congratulations on your appointment.
Please have the floor. 

Oana Lungescu, NATO Spokesperson:
Okay, we'll go to Romanian TV.

Lucian Pârvoiu  (TVR/Romanian state TV)
Mr. Prime Minister. We would like to know if you had discussed the need to get some extra measures within the Romanian territory? To be more precise, to what extent are Romanian citizens protected within the Eastern flank of our country?

Nicolae Ciucă (Prime Minister of Romania)
[translated]  As I have pointed out, Romania is protected first and foremost, because it is part of the Northern Alliance and benefits of all the security guarantees that are enabled by this status.
At the same time, we have under discussion everything that needs to be taken as a set of measures that the Alliance can assume in the event of such ongoing on behalf of the Russian Federation.
And we have also expressed our conviction that there are possibilities for a dialogue and to find peaceful endings of this situation.

Florin Stefan (Agerpres)
Hello, my name is Florin Stefan. I'm with Romanian national news agency, Agerpres.
So Secretary General.  Have you discussed with Prime Minister Ciucă, the Russian proposals to guarantee their security? They are reasonably new, but I am sure you have started to have contacts with the Allied countries. How close are you towards forging a consensus to give a reply to make a counteroffer or something like that? So do you believe there can be this discussion about the Russian proposal before the de-escalation or do you need to have the de-escalation first at the Ukrainian border? Thank you.

Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General:
So NATO Allies have a united position and united approach when it comes to Russia.  And that is based on the deterrence and defence. You need to be strong, firm and ready, and able to protect each other. But at the same time, NATO Allies are open for dialogue with Russia. We are ready to engage in meaningful dialogue with Russia.

And especially in times are difficult as they are now, I think it's even more important to sit down and to discuss to find a way to reduce tensions and to avoid any escalation of the situation.

But any dialogue with Russia has, of course, to respect the core principles which European security has been based on, and also the documents and the principles which European security has been based on for decades. And that includes the right for every nation to choose his own path.

And it also, of course, includes the right for NATO Allies to defend and protect NATO Allied countries. So we will never compromise on our right to defend all Allies. And we will never compromise on the right of each and every country in Europe, including Ukraine, to choose his own path.

We will also, when we engage in dialogue with Russia, consult closely with our partners including with Ukraine. And it is also important that in this dialogue, we also share and raise NATO's concerns. All Allies are united in the calling on Russia to de-escalate, Russia to reduce tensions. All Allies have expressed their deep concern about the military build-up we have seen from Russia over the last weeks.  And this is a military build-up that continues and it's unprovoked and unexplained.
And let me also add that of course there's no clarity about the exact intentions of the Russian military build-up, but we see that gradually they get more and more forces, artillery, combat troops, battle tanks close to Ukraine's borders. We also see the aggressive rhetoric from the Russian side. And then we know that Russia has been willing to use force. Russia has used force before against Ukraine illegally annexing Crimea ,and continue to destabilize Eastern Ukraine. So therefore, we have sent a clear message to Russia that there will be severe consequences if they once again use force against Ukraine.
But at the same time, we are ready to engage in dialogue.

And I… My intention is to convene the NATO-Russia Council early next year to sit down and to discuss these very serious issues with Russia.

Oana Lungescu, NATO Spokesperson:
Thank you very much. This concludes the press conference. Thank you.

Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General:
Thank you.