Participarea ministrului afacerilor externe Bogdan Aurescu la deschiderea "Voice of the Flank Security Forum"

Bogdan Aurescu, ministrul afacerilor externe
Voice of the Flank Security Forum

Thank you so much for inviting me for this great and relevant event, timely organized just ahead of the meeting of the heads of state of Central and Eastern European countries which will take place tomorrow, here in Bucharest.

I am pretty sure this Security Forum will bring added value to the debate on the security situation and on how to respond to threats and challenges at our borders.

Allow me to refer today to a few aspects that I believe are particularly important.  

Above all, I believe it is essential to place the meeting that will take place tomorrow in a larger context -  that  is the context of NATO as a whole. The meeting, organized under the auspices of Romanian and Polish presidents, demonstrates the interest across our region to enhance our common security, I think this is the most important aspect which has to be underlined  - our security which in fact is part and parcel of the Allied security. It reflects at the same time regional ownership and awareness in responding to the challenges faced by NATO, especially in the East, and the duties that we have, as members of the Alliance, to contribute to the Euro-Atlantic security. 

The countries on the Eastern Flank are gathering in Bucharest to assess if we are doing enough to ensure our security, if we can do more to keep our Alliance strong, responsive and ready, if our deeds match the pledges made in Wales and to see what we can do,   what are our priorities for the Warsaw Summit. 

Over a year ago, the Wales Summit adopted  some important decisions to make the North Atlantic Alliance more prepared and ready to cope with this strategic challenges it faces in the East and South. The Readiness Action Plan (RAP), adopted in Wales, has been a natural reaction  for the use of aggressive means and re-writing internationally recognized borders  in Europe.

So, implementation of those decisions led to consolidation of the collective defense of the Alliance. We witness an enhanced NATO Reaction Force able to respond to threats which, as we speak, is tested in a major military exercise – I have to mention here the Trident Juncture 2015. NATO also benefits of the so-called spearhead force, which is the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, already operational and able to deploy within days, demonstrating that the Alliance is capable to defend its members. The decision for the establishment of a NATO presence in the East in the form of command and control structures was already implemented.  Two NATO multinational headquarters have been established: one in Poland (already operational) and one in Romania that will reach initial operational capability by the Warsaw Summit.

Bilaterally, Allies on the Eastern Flank have been working closely with the United States to accomplish projects under the European Reassurance Initiative, which is as you know a US program for the reassurance of our countries, which demonstrates the commitment of the United States for the European security.

The decisions taken towards the consolidation of the Alliance and the measures towards their implementation did provide for significant results. However, the challenges that we face are still there.  So, we have to be aware that these challengies will stay for quite a long term.. We face two strategic challenges, from the East and from the South.

From the East, we see an aggressive Russia which has chosen competition over cooperation. After the end of the Cold War, the West approached Russia in an open desire to ensure the common security by jointly discussing issues of common concern. We still live today by the provisions of the NATO - Russia Founding Act, despite Russia's disregard for it, as well as its breach of the UN Charter and international law.  

NATO continues to see no country as an adversary. This is as valid for any country as for Russia. We have underlined that the decisions taken at the Summit in Wales respect a rules-based European security architecture.

But Russia chose to deny such cooperation even if publicly advocates the contrary. Its military doctrine sees NATO as an adversary. Its leaders make easily threats to other countries which pursue development of legitimate self defense capabilities. It continues to project force even beyond what it used to consider its sphere of influence. On the Eastern flank of NATO, we are confronted every day with Russian military activities, constantly testing our solidarity.

So, despite our measures in Wales and the good progress in their implementation, the situation in the East  still deteriorated, with increased pressure both on partners and Allied nations and of course the military build-up of Russia in the Baltic and Black Seas.  That is why I have pointed out that NATO needs a strategic review of the security challenges in the Black Sea and we are happy that this process is already under way.

In the South, the spread of conflicts across the Northern Africa and the Middle East, fueled by terrorist and radical movements such as DAESH, has shown that a volatile and challenging security environment has grown on our doorstep. The migration phenomenon adds an important humanitarian dimension to the security threat posed by terrorism.

So, against this challenging background, our common aim is to consolidate the Allied solidarity.  We have to be clear that our security is indivisible. This is our purpose.

During the last couple of years we have seen new crises superseding the previous ones, our resources  became strained, and our capacity to respond overstretched. In this context, it is the deepening of crises within and around NATO and the EU that forced us to stay focused on our shared strategic interests and the array of complicating surrounding threats.

That is why Romania advocates for an Alliance prepared to successfully meet, in an integrated manner, both strategic challenges, coming from the East and from the South. Despite continuing unfolding crises, all Allies need to stay united and act in full solidarity.

Democracy, cooperation, respect for international law are not just words on paper. They are pledges we have to live by.

NATO’s Eastern flank is sending a message of commitment on continuing enhancement of our defense capabilities to efficiently respond  to these challenges. Consolidation of the Allied collective defense posture is essential.

At the same time, the continuation of the adaptation process of NATO is essential: NATO needs to be able to cope with these challenges. All this process needs to be done under the aegis of fundamental values of unity, solidarity and cohesion.

Part of  this adaptation involves  our partners, NATO’s partners.

With all these factors in mind, at the NATO Ministerial in Antalya, in May, I advanced the proposal of an integrated NATO policy with two legs,   one for the East and one for the South, exactly with a view to engage partners while addressing their specific needs, in order to advance stability and prevent conflict.

Achieving the full potential of NATO–EU cooperation is also a prerequisite for joint added value in answering  to these challenges. Such an effort would also benefit the consolidation of an arch of stability at the Eastern and Southern borders of NATO and the EU.

We will continue to underscore the importance of a solid transatlantic relationship, based  on a proper commitment to fully undertake the security costs and responsibilities.

As beneficiaries of the enlargement process of the Alliance, Romania will continue to promote the NATO Open Doors Policy. Admitting new members, which share the Euro-Atlantic values and principles, I think is the right policy which no third country can veto.

And we want to restate our pledge to ensure an adequate level of  defense spending, in line with the decisions adopted at the Wales. In 2017, our commitment is to fulfill the obligation to allot 2% of GDP for the defense sector and to  maintain this level throughout at least a decade.

Tomorrow, the participating states in the Bucharest meeting will seek ways to fully commit to enhanced responsibilities to ensure security, stability and prosperity from the Baltic to the Black Sea. They will at the same time reiterate the solidarity and unity of action within NATO, the ultimate objective being the security of the Euro-Atlantic area. 

We also want to continue to engage Russia. We heard for many times that we should be pragmatic about  this. As we all have seen, pragmatism works in Russia’s favor: it breaches the international law, it takes territories from countries and gets away with it after some time. This time should be different. We advocate for a principled approach that means engagement based on international law. It also means a responsible, predictable and constructive conduct of international affairs. And I think it is not too much to ask.  

In conclusion, the meeting tomorrow will prove, I think,  once again that countries affected by the new challenges are equally ready to assume responsibilities, with a view to ensure stability and security, to the benefit of the Allies, EU members and partners alike.

We need to bring forward our views of the necessity of a consolidated Eastern flank, not directed against any country, but in order to promote stability and security in the region and to reassure the Allies on the Eastern flank of NATO’s strong commitment to their defense.

Regional cooperation from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea remains a priority. As part of a frontier region, our countries share a more sensitive, particular awareness of what it means to be a secure component , of sharing in its responsibilities and its benefits.

We need to continue to advocate for our security and for  the security of our partners.

I think this is the main purpose of the meeting tomorrow. We must insist on defending our freedom of choice, our potential for development, and the wellbeing of our societies.

Our common response must be strong and meaningful, because we absolutely need to succeed, if we are to emerge more secure from these turbulent times.

Thank you once again for the invitation. I am glad to be here and I wish you successful debates.