July 3rd, 2015
|“Fascinating photo: Romanian guards in pre-1914 Franz Lehar-type operetta costumes . . . royal nostalgia, while NATO is happily digging their graves . . .” – Luciana Bohne|
In a visit to Bucharest on Thursday (2 July 2015), NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked Romania for its considerable contributions to Allied security. At a joint press conference with President Klaus Werner Iohannis, Mr. Stoltenberg described Romania as a “steadfast Ally,” stressing that “NATO counts on Romania, and Romania can count on NATO.”
The Secretary General commended Romania’s strong engagement in NATO-led missions and operations from Afghanistan to Kosovo. He also expressed appreciation for Romania’s support for partners, including the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia, for its contributions to stability in the Black Sea region, and for hosting an important part of NATO’s missile defence system.
Mr Stoltenberg welcomed the increase in Romania’s defence spending and the political commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence by 2017 as an example of how Allies can conduct a prudent fiscal policy and boost growth while raising investment in defence. Romania will also host NATO’s new Multinational Divisional Headquarters South-East, which Mr Stoltenberg called “another important contribution to our collective defence.”
In the Secretary General’s talks with President Iohannis, acting Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea, Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu, and Defence Minister Mircea Duşa, the leaders discussed challenges to Alliance security from the east and the south, and NATO’s continued adaptation to face them. Mr. Stoltenberg stressed that “NATO does not seek confrontation with anyone, but we will do what is necessary to keep our countries safe.”
Later in the day, the Secretary General made his first visit to the new NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) in Bucharest, one of six small headquarters being set up across the eastern part of the Alliance to facilitate planning, exercises, and potential reinforcements. Mr. Stoltenberg underlined that the unit sends “a clear message: NATO is here. NATO is ready to defend Romania against any threat.”
Accompanied by President Iohannis, acting Prime Minister Oprea, and Defence Minister Duşa, Mr. Stoltenberg toured the NFIU and met staff before planting a fir tree on the premises.
“This is a wonderful symbol,” the Secretary General said. “The fir tree is ever green. It will grow in Romanian soil for generations to come. Like the tree, NATO’s roots in Romania run deep, and are growing.” Mr. Stoltenberg concluded that the tree would “stand proud” as a symbol of “the perennial bond between Romania and NATO.”