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Aurescu, on Russia's military presence in region: We do not feel threatened; Black Sea is partly NATO 'lake'

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Bogdan Aurescu

Romania does not feel threatened, but worried about Russia's increased military presence in the region, and thanks to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Black Sea "is partly also a NATO 'lake'," Minister of Foreign Affairs Bogdan Aurescu said on Thursday.

He participated in EPC Talks Geopolitics, an online debate. In this context, he spoke about the role of our country on the eastern flank of NATO, agerpres.ro confirms.

Asked if Romania feels threatened by the Russian military's increased military presence in the region, Aurescu said: "We do not feel threatened. Romania is a NATO ally, part of the Alliance - the most successful and strongest military alliance in history. We do not feel threatened, but at the same time we are worried when we see a massive deployment of such troops, such a demonstration of military force in the region. We cannot help wondering what the reason is for this, what kind of concern Russia wants to convey to us, as NATO allies in the region."

The minister was also asked "what could NATO do to prevent Russia from turning the Black Sea into a 'Russian lake'".

"Thanks to NATO allies, the Black Sea is partly also a NATO 'lake'. We cannot give up being present in the region as members of the Alliance and I think it is important to continue to promote our values in the region," he said.

He said that "it is important for NATO to continue the defence and deterrence in the area and that, at the same time, protracted conflicts in the area pose a threat to regional security and beyond."

At the same time, he showed that our country wants "more allies in the multinational brigade in Romania".

"We have Poland, forces of some allied countries - Portugal, Italy and others - but we need a greater presence on the ground (...). In recent years we have seen an increase in naval presence in the Black Sea and more NATO ships are coming and we are organizing joint exercises, within the stipulated limits," he pointed out.

Moreover, he spoke of the need for cohesion on the Eastern Flank of the Alliance.

"It is necessary and we must make more efforts regarding the cohesion of the Eastern Flank. It is clear that Russia sees the Eastern Flank as a whole. And we must see things that way," Aurescu pointed out.

In this context, he spoke about the allied military presence in Romania.

"If we have a constant rotation and a multiplied NATO presence in the Black Sea - and we have seen something like this in recent years - I think we can say that there is a relevant naval presence of NATO in this region. It does not mean that we should not do more. And I think it is important that, at the NATO Summit, in the discussions in which we negotiate the future NATO strategic concept, strengthening the components of deterrence and defence on the Eastern Flank, including the Black Sea and the southern flank, it would be a very relevant thing for Romania and for the region, but also for NATO as a whole," he pointed out.

Thus, he stressed that "security in the Black Sea area is an integral part of NATO security."

According to the Foreign Minister, the Rail-2-Sea and Via Carpatia projects "are not only necessary for the economic development of the region, but also in terms of military mobility".

"We do not believe that the level of military mobility is satisfactory. Therefore, projects connecting the northern part with the southern part of the Eastern Flank, which coincide with the northern and southern part of the Three Seas Initiative region, are very important. We need such projects," Bogdan Aurescu said.

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