Romanian Government



Monday, 28 March

Prime Minister Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă’s participation in the meeting of the Heads of Government of the NATO Allies in South- Eastern Europe


Joint press statements by Prime Minister Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă and Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria Kiril Petkov

 

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Nicolae -Ionel Ciucă

Good afternoon.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am very pleased to meet my colleagues, Zdravko, Kiril and Dimitar here in Sofia, and I would like also to thank my friend, Kiril, for convening the meeting and for his hospitality. Today’s meeting provided a timely opportunity to deepen consultations on the consequences of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on the security of South-Eastern Europe. These discussions are a timely follow-up to the NATO Summit in Brussels last week.

Russia's war of choice against Ukraine gravely affects the security climate in the Black Sea and South-East Europe regions. Coordination in the South-eastern part is a must and today, we did just that. ‘Togetherness’ is the key in any conflict management. That is why, together with my colleagues, we have decided to stand firm in our Strategic Orientation towards the Euro-Atlantic values.

Today we discussed how to develop our cooperation as NATO allies in order to strengthen NATO's posture of deterrence and defence on the Eastern Flank. Our countries have already strong expertise in regional cooperation in the field of defence that can be capitalised towards this goal. I have invited our allies to contribute to the NATO structures on our territory.
We do not have any doubt that Russia is now the most serious threat to our common security. We need stronger defence for more effective deterrence and we need more society and infrastructure resilience for better security. We acknowledge the malign Russian posture and influence in the region. We decided to face it by increasing our resilience. This includes reducing energy dependence on Russia, combatting Russian fake narratives, more cyber protection and increased trade among us.

We have shown a constructive approach in assisting our like-minded partners to cope with the consequences of this unprovoked war conducted by Russia. Ukraine is in a critical situation. Special attention should go to the Republic of Moldova, which is confronted with overlapping crises. The refugee crisis has tested the resilience of state institutions and their economic hardship resulting from the war.

At the same time, all our support goes out to Montenegro to up the tempo of reforms in correlation with its advanced status on the road toward membership. I think our meeting today in Sofia has just made all of us advance towards closer cooperation in this part of Europe. We have all agreed to continue along this path and jointly face the threats to our common security.

I would like also to mention that what has been shared with you by Kiril, Zdravko, and by Dimitar were discussed and we will continue to discuss it throughout our bilateral meetings today. For sure, we will do our best to find solutions to ensure our citizens that we will do our best to cope with all those crises, the price rising of energy, gas and of course, this threat which is considered to become, the food problem. Thank you very much, Kiril, see you soon, in Romania.

Reporter: How do you see these food supply chains? You have spoken about the shortage of food, do the countries of the Western Balkans have reasons to be afraid? Can we cooperate with respect to the food supply?

Nicolae –Ionel Ciucă:I do believe it is important to mention that so far, we do not face any problems regarding the food supply and of course, there are problems regarding the food chain of supply because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and all the other sanctions applied to Russia. In this respect, we have to evaluate all this impact.

We were discussing how we can support each other and one of the main aspects which have been raised is the problem of fertilizers, that is why I think energy and gas resources are very important because fertilizers are mostly gas and in this respect, I do really want to thank Kiril and his government for their commitment in finishing the project of the Interconnector from Greece to Bulgaria because that is going to ensure another alternative for the LNG supply as we mentioned, from Alexandroupolis all the way through the vertical corridor to Bulgaria, Romania, and then, to the other European countries.

So, this is all about. And this dialogue is important because we know each other and we asked our Ministers, the Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of Energy, Minister of Transportation, to work together to find those specific and technical solutions to solve all these kinds of problems.

Reporter: The question is concerning the security situation in the region, especially about Serbia, and its role, considering its current relations with Russia and also having in mind the situation in Bosnia Herzegovina, Kosovo and Montenegro. Have you discussed these issues, have you discussed Serbia’s role and could Serbia be a destabilizing factor for the Western Balkans in the future?

 Nicolae –Ionel Ciucă: During our discussions, I do reiterate the very strong support from our side to all the Balkan countries’ endeavour to join the EU, as soon as possible.

Reporter: When do you think the first LNG will come to Romania through the Greek port and do you think the gas pipeline will be completed before the anticipated date?

Nicolae –Ionel Ciucă: Here, I do not want to speculate. We were very much discussing this corridor and taking into account the current situation and the big need of diversifying the gas resources, I discussed this with Kiril, and I also discussed it with the Greek Prime Minister, Mr Mitsotakis and we are all committed to doing our best in order to have this interconnector as they mentioned before, done as soon as possible because we cannot get any LNG without having this interconnector done. So taking into account that last time, when I spoke with Kiril by phone, he told me that he is almost weekly informed about progress in this interconnector so, I do believe that at least, to be done, in time.

 

Press statements by Prime Minister Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă at the end of the meeting of the Heads of Government of the NATO Allies in South-Eastern Europe

 

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Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă: Good afternoon. Currently, Europe is going through the most complicated times since World War II, following the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian armed forces.  In this context, at the invitation of the Bulgarian Prime Minister, I participated today, alongside the Prime Minister of the Republic of Northern Macedonia and Prime Minister of Montenegro, in a summit in which a whole set of aspects have been discussed and solutions sought regarding the decisions taken at last week's NATO summit in Brussels, and here we must once again hail the decision to establish the four battlegroups, one of which in Romania, one in Bulgaria - one of the countries that participated in this meeting.  It is also very important to emphasize that together we sought to assume a whole series of solutions, so as to prove that the purpose of the governments of NATO and the European Union member states, is to look for solutions for citizens, to identify through dialogue those ways whereby we can cope with any challenges, whether we are talking about security challenges or others. Therefore, at this point, we can assure the citizens of our countries that we are under the umbrella of the strongest political and military alliance, and also in connection with the set of benefits deriving from EU membership, we have at our disposal a whole series of measures through which we can protect our citizens, we can protect our jobs, investments, and our economy.

Discussions took place on how to identify new sources of gas, new sources of energy. Aspects related to interconnection in electricity and gas transmission networks were addressed. We discussed all these issues and I will provide more details as soon as I mention the bilateral meetings I had with each of the three prime ministers.

Thus, in the bilateral meeting I had with the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, we discussed the issues related to his cooperation with the Greek side to complete the Bulgaria - Greece interconnector, and we received guarantees that all these works will be completed this summer, In June, and the testing process will ensue later, so that in the autumn of this year we can benefit from the transit of liquefied gas that can be supplied to the port of Alexandroupolis, in Greece. We also discussed issues related to the increase in the gas supply capacity on the trans-Balkan pipeline. All these represent opportunities and possibilities that can be used, not only by Romania and Bulgaria but also by other European countries. Another topic of discussion was the road and rail infrastructure. We discussed the Bulgarian side's proposal to build at least five bridges over the Danube River, and we also insisted on the start of the dredging process of the Danube River to ensure navigation throughout the year. I also discussed with the Bulgarian Prime Minister our request that ethnic Romanians living in Bulgaria be able to study in the Romanian language.

In the bilateral meeting with the Montenegrin Prime Minister, we discussed the need to support Montenegro in its roadmap towards EU membership, and we highlighted the need to strengthen bilateral economic relations.  We touched upon a project that will be implemented very soon, namely the air connection between Romania and Montenegro, more precisely between the airports of Timișoara or Craiova and Tivat, in Montenegro. Issues related to the economic and agricultural sectors were also addressed, the Montenegrin Prime Minister suggested that a delegation of the two Ministers of Economy and Agriculture pay a visit to Bucharest in the near future to discuss technical details on how to strengthen relations in the two sectors. Of course, issues related to Montenegro's participation in the battle group to be established in Romania were also discussed. I  thanked for Montenegro’s one participation in the Multinational Corps South–East command to date.

In the bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia, we discussed our support for this country’s path to EU accession, wishing it success in the preparations for OSCE chairmanship in 2023, while also expressing our readiness to share our experience and extend our support in this demarche. There is another year until then, but the support our country may extend in the preparations can be beneficial for the Republic of North Macedonia. We also addressed issues on how we can develop bilateral economic relations and of course, aspects of how we can cooperate, and have a regional assembly on everything that means the package of measures designed to strengthen deterrence and defence on the Eastern flank.

Thank you!