Romania's President Klaus Iohannis pointed out at an extraordinary NATO meeting that reinforcing NATO presence in Romania, on the Black Sea and on the entire eastern flank is a strategic goal of the country in response to the implications of Russian aggression on European and Euro-Atlantic security, and such enhanced presence must be unitary, balanced and consistent from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, Agerpres reports.The Romanian Presidential Administration reports that during the meeting, NATO leaders discussed the full impact of the current crisis on the security state of play on NATO's eastern flank, including the Black Sea, as well as in the entire European and Euro-Atlantic areas. Discussions reconfirmed the unity and strength of NATO and the transatlantic relationship, and the allies' firm commitment to acting without hesitation in collective defence, as well as their commitment to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty on collective defence.
The summit also set priorities in preparation for the NATO summit in Madrid in June, when strategic decisions will be made on the long-term adaptation of NATO taking into account the new security context, and a new NATO Strategic Concept will be adopted.
Iohannis welcomed the adoption of a joint statement of NATO heads of state or government that fully reflects Romania's strategic objectives and interests, as well as the decision to create a NATO battle group in Romania along with three other such groups mentioned in the statement of the meeting.
Iohannis underscored the need for a structural and long-term review of NATO's posture on the eastern flank, given the substantially different circumstances from the time the current eastern flank approach was designed. He thus appreciated the concrete proposals put forward by the NATO secretary-general and SACEUR on the consolidation of the eastern flank in the short, medium and long term.
The Presidential Administration notes that, following the requests of Romania and President Iohannis, the statement of the meeting explicitly mentions the decision to accelerate NATO's transformation for a more dangerous strategic reality, including through the adoption of the next Strategic Concept in Madrid this June. The statement included Romania's long-term goal of significantly strengthening NATO's longer term deterrence and defence posture and further developing the full range of ready forces and capabilities necessary to maintain credible deterrence and defence. To this end, the NATO leaders decided to call on NATO military authorities to come up with concrete proposals for the long-term adjustment of the NATO deterrence and defence posture for their adoption at the Madrid summit.
President Iohannis reiterated that Romania will continue to fully meet its commitments as a security provider in the region and presented his country's decision to increase public defence spending from 2% to 2.5% of GDP starting in 2023 and to continue investing in national capabilities and capacities.
"This growth reflects Romania's responsible conduct to act as a committed ally in defending Euro-Atlantic values and principles, to sustain a strong transatlantic relationship, while allowing the further development of the Romanian armed forces and the creation of conditions for implementing NATO decisions related to the defence of the entire eastern flank, including by increasing the Allied presence in our country and in the Black Sea."
The President also mentioned the strategic resilience of the entire Euro-Atlantic area in relation to strengthening the transatlantic relationship, and welcomed the presence of US President Joe Biden at the summit.
The NATO leaders also discussed continuing support for Ukraine and identifying new ways to support it. President Iohannis drew attention to the need to support other partner states facing the effects of Russia's security crisis and to strengthen their resilience, especially of Moldova, Georgia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Iohannis mentioned the concrete role and contributions of Romania and its citizens toward Ukraine, pointing to the important humanitarian effort of Romania, including the Suceava hub that became operational on March 9 for the purpose of collecting and distributing humanitarian aid to both Ukraine and the Moldova.
The NATO leaders decided at their summit to extend for one year the term of office of Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, throughout September 2023. President Klaus Iohannis expressed Romania's full support for the decision, voicing the country's appreciation for the way in which the secretary general has lead NATO, including amidst the Russian aggression against Ukraine.
The extraordinary NATO meeting, which was also attended by US President Joe Biden, was convened amidst Russian Federation's illegal military aggression against Ukraine and its negative consequences for regional, European and Euro-Atlantic security. It is the second extraordinary NATO summit this year, after the one on February 25.