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Friday, 16 September 2022

Prime Minister Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă’s participation in the sixth edition of the Bucharest Security Conference: “Strengthening resilience in volatile times. New dimensions, new players, new perspectives”

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Speech by Prime Minister Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă at the Bucharest Security Conference: “Strengthening resilience in volatile times. New dimensions, new players, new perspectives”


Good morning! Mr Rector, thank you very much for the introduction. Your Excellencies, distinguished representatives of the Diplomatic Corps accredited in Bucharest, ladies and gentlemen, professors, and distinguished guests, the rector began with a very beautiful story about how SNSPA was born, transformed, consolidated and contributed to the democratic course of our country. If I were to start with a story, then I can only relate it to what the irreversible path of our country meant to become a member of the North Atlantic Alliance, a national goal at the time, and of course a member of the Union European. You have in the room two protagonists of the year 2001 when the decision was made for Romania to send troops to Afghanistan, and the National Defence Minister at that time was Ioan Mircea Pașcu. I was a battalion commander in Craiova. After we managed to get to Afghanistan and the Defence Minister came to see us settling in there, and before he got on the plane, he said this to me, I hope you remember, minister: "Remember: Romania's road to NATO passes through Afghanistan." He shook my hand and left. The rest of the story is too long and I will not tell it now.

Mr Rector, I attended all the activities I was invited to. The first, if I remember correctly, was held at the National Bank, about seven years ago. Since then and until now, many conferences have been held, all with topics related to the analysis of the security environment and the attempt to find solutions to cope with all these challenges. And I wouldn't be as pessimistic as Professor Secăreș to see that no stone will be left unturned. Probably, in history, there have always been such moments, but it was still within the reach of man to put the stone in place and strengthen the respective infrastructure. As such, an optimistic approach, through which we can enliven ourselves with enthusiasm that we have a lot to do. It is our duty to do them, it is our responsibility of course to make sure that we have something to do with, something to strengthen with.

More important than anything, today we are members of an alliance that has no equal in the world, an alliance whose first responsibility is to ensure the security and defence of its members. We are members of the European Union, a Union whose primary objective is economic development, prosperity and, of course, the security and resilience component - two organizations that complement each other very well.

Here, today, we can right here, in the proximity of a conflict, be sure that we can carry out such activities, that we can analyze, exchange ideas and promote measures to strengthen our status within the European Union, the Alliance, and above all to strengthen our pivotal role in the Black Sea. Much is happening in this region today, and Romania is the main actor alongside the other states that are part of the Black Sea region.

And because not long ago there was another conference where the Black Sea matter was discussed, and also the Balkans, here Romania, in the middle, is assuming the role of looking for solutions so as to maintain the balance, stability, and peace both in the Black Sea region and in the Balkans area, knowing what are all the struggles and needs for decisions, including for the countries of the Western Balkans.

It gives me particular pleasure to attend this conference, a distinct event in the landscape of the debates currently taking place in Romania and in Europe.

Our security environment is constantly changing and we are always facing new challenges and threats. These challenges are constantly becoming more complex and persistent across Europe and beyond, affecting our societies on a daily basis. Many of them are of hybrid nature, multifaceted or simultaneous. Together with our partners in the European Union and NATO, we need to be prepared to cope with all.

It is relevant to approach the topic in the context of the Russian unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine. Combined tactics and methods have been used by Russia in a strategically coordinated manner in order to carry out the aggression. Russia has already brought warfare to our homes – here, in Europe, in the US, in all democratic countries, - through propaganda, manipulation of information, cyber-attacks, food crisis.


We need to face the reality of Russia’s attempts to use energy and food supply in support of its aggressive policies. Russian aggression has led to massive food security challenges, as it has disrupted, to a significant extent, the agricultural season in Ukraine. The blockage by Russia of the Ukrainian ports has interrupted the Ukrainian grain exports to their destinations, thus exacerbating the food crisis in important areas around the globe. Russian aggression and its manipulation of strategic dependencies that affect transatlantic and global energy also demonstrate the risks of overreliance on autocratic, revisionist actors and the systemic models they promote.

Solidarity with Ukraine has been a top priority for Romania. In recent months, Romania has put in action our own national mechanisms for providing direct support, together with the assistance of our partners and allies. The crisis that Russia has created is also an opportunity for the transatlantic community to support a long-term global recalibration of supply chains, trade connections and strategic partnerships.

Achieving this result will require sustained joint efforts by all transatlantic actors in support of friendly-shoring key supply chains, promotion and expansion of an inclusive and resilient economic development model, based on high environmental, financial and labour standards, avoiding control of key supply bottlenecks (geographical, resources or technology bottlenecks) by authoritarian actors.

The Black Sea proved more than ever its strategic relevance in this context. Romania became an important transit country for grains coming from Ukraine. Until now, 4 million tons of Ukrainian grains have already transited the Romanian ports since the beginning of the Russian invasion.

Constanța, the largest harbour at the Black Sea, has become one of the main maritime gateways for the Ukrainian grains. Galați, after we upgraded the broad gauge railway that links Ukraine to Romania (via R. Moldova), received in August, the first grain train from Ukraine through this railroad, having as destination Türkiye.

Romania supports the UN Secretary-General Black Sea Grain Initiative – to alleviate the blockade imposed by Russia over Ukraine at the Black Sea. I welcome the Agreement signed in Istanbul, on 22nd July, a vital mechanism established for the safe transportation of grain, related foodstuffs and fertilizer, including ammonia, from designated Ukrainian ports to global markets. We hope that this long-awaited deal will avoid a food shortage catastrophe for millions worldwide, will help reinstate confidence in the global food market and reduce food prices from their current levels.

Russia’s unprecedented aggression against Ukraine also marked the start of a hybrid war against the West, which represented a strong signal for all of us that we need to strengthen the resilience of our critical infrastructure.

Moreover, maintaining European solidarity and unity remains an essential element for articulating an adequate response to Russian aggression. The Russian-led hybrid campaigns related to the war are not limited to Ukraine and neither to the Western countries. They are worldwide manipulation operations and they need to be addressed as such. These are complex mixed threats that many times combine military and civil components.

Strengthening the transatlantic resilience, by decreasing dependencies on actors which do not share transatlantic values and interests, while at the same time increasing connections with like-minded partners, remains a strategic priority for the Romanian foreign and security policy. We need better preventive measures and to strengthen, at the same time, the resilience of our partners and neighbours, as the internal and external security of the Union is indissolubly interlinked. The resilience and stability of our neighbourhood are an investment in our own security.

We have a most relevant example of the significance of resilience at our doorstep: the resistance of Ukraine’s armed forces and civil society against the Russian aggression is a demonstration of the crucial importance of military and societal resilience in the face of external challenges. Romania is actively involved in very important areas aimed at strengthening resilience, among which hosting in Bucharest the European Cybersecurity Competence ​​Centre and the Euro-Atlantic Center for Resilience.

Most of the new threats have cyber components. The security of cyberspace has become a matter of the highest political and diplomatic priority and a topic that needs to be addressed constantly in all dimensions. Malicious cyber activities have dramatically increased in recent years serving different purposes and taking various forms, including attacks against critical infrastructure, cyber-espionage, intellectual property theft and cybercrime, and are often used as components of hybrid attacks. We are also witnessing a shift in targets, scope and intensity of attacks carried out by already known actors. Such is the case of the severe cyberattacks against Albania’s governmental and critical infrastructure, strongly condemned by NATO and the EU member states.

Romania remains committed to upholding and promoting respect for human beings and their fundamental rights within the development and use of information and telecommunications technologies. As a responsible member of the international community, Romania promotes the full applicability of international law, grounded on the UN Charter in its entirety, as well as humanitarian and human rights law within cyberspace, and will continue to do so as global technological evolution progresses.

Before concluding, I want to mention that we are carrying out activities at the level of all line ministries and institutions, through which, using both European and national funds, we succeed, on the one hand, in ensuring the digitalization of public services, so that the citizen can access as easily as possible everything related to government institutions and, of course, his needs and requests, and, on the other hand, we take the necessary measures together with our allies, with the institutions and specialists of the European Union, because, as I said, we also have funds from the European Union, so that we can build a digital, cyberspace that ensures data protection and the security of the services we provide. As such, any idea and any proposal that can support the government's efforts is of great use to us, bearing in mind that at the government level, most of the activities are carried out in full transparency and dialogue with civil society, thus so that we can find the best solutions. Thank you and I wish you success in everything that you are doing, as it is a challenge, with concrete solutions for government actions. Good luck! Thank you!

 Răspundem cetăţenilor


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