Fresh News

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă met with the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

Joint press conference by Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

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Jens Stoltenberg:

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.

Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă: Thank you, Secretary General, dear Jens. I would like to thank you very much for the very warm welcome and I am really honoured to be back here, at NATO headquarters. It is an important opportunity to discuss with you the current matters of serious concern for Euro-Atlantic security. At the outset, let me underline our strong support for all the work you are doing at the NATO helm, despite the difficult and tense times. At the same time, allow me to underline that Romania remains committed Ally, contributing substantially to NATO missions and operations and we intend to continue to even enhance our role in the Alliance through our concrete contributions. As we have here the Romanian media and for the Romanian people, please, let me switch to Romanian. I mention that today, I have discussed with the NATO Secretary General many issues of major importance, including the preparations for the Madrid Summit next year, in which the future strategic concept of the Alliance will be adopted. I also assured the Secretary General that Romania will continue to observe its commitment to allocating the two percent of GDP for defence. Also, Romania intends to actively and significantly contribute to debates regarding NATO Strategic Concept and of course, the missions in which the Alliance will be engaged. In our talks, we mainly focused on the situation regarding the security around Ukraine, and at the Black Sea. This Russian military build-up is significant, unprovoked and unjustified. We cannot understand how NATO measures and actions as well as those of Ukraine can be considered challenges. We are currently evaluating within the Alliance the implications of this situation. It is self–evident that NATO will defend all its members, as our collective defence commitment remains the cornerstone of the Alliance. Given all these, I discussed with Secretary General Stoltenberg how we could strengthen security in a more effective manner. The current security developments confirm once again the need to strengthen actions to deter threats and for defence on the Eastern flank and at the Black Sea in a coherent and balanced manner. At the same time, beyond the focus on more prevention and defence, I think the situation should be de-escalated. As NATO and its allies mentioned last week, any new aggression against Ukraine will have serious consequences. Allow me to reaffirm the support extended by Romania to Ukraine regarding the latter’s sovereignty and territorial integrity inside its internationally recognized borders. The right of any state to freely choose its foreign policy is a fundamental principle of sovereignty, and NATO firmly upholds this principle. We agreed today with the Secretary General that the current NATO policy to deter and defend, while remaining open to dialogue, is still valid. The Alliance established channels of dialogue with the Russian Federation and launched many calls for dialogue. But, for this dialogue to be efficient, a de-escalation of the situation is needed.

Secretary General, thank you very much for today’s meeting and I hope to have great cooperation in the future. Thank you very much.

Reporter: 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 –Ionel Ciucă: As I have pointed out in my discussions with Secretary General, 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 dialogue and to find peaceful endings of this situation.

Reporter: 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:

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 its 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 its 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 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.

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

Thank you.



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