President Iohannis: Deveselu missile defence shield has a strictly defensive role
President Klaus Iohannis on Thursday said that the ballistic missile defence shield at Deveselu is not targeted against any state, pointing out that it has a strictly defensive role.
"I am saying it once more as clearly as it can be: Aegis Ashore isn't directed against any state, it has a strictly defensive role. This is to ensure Romania's and the European allies' defence against some possible threats with ballistic attacks from outside the Euro-Atlantic space," Iohannis said at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace after a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Iohannis commended Stoltenberg for his participation in a ceremony to take place at Deveselu, showing that this marks the strengthening of cooperation in respect to the Strategic Partnership and the country's profile within the Alliance.
"Your presence in Romania, Mr Stoltenberg, reflects the importance which the North Atlantic Alliance attaches to our country. (...) I highly commended Secretary General Stoltenberg's participation in the inauguration ceremony of the missile defence facility at Deveselu today [Thursday], which marks both the strengthening of cooperation in respect to the Strategic Partnership between Romanian and the US, and Romania's profile within NATO in the perspective of integrating this facility with NATO's missile defence system," said Iohannis.
In his opinion, "the missile defence system makes both Romania and Europe safer."
"This system at Deveselu has strictly defensive capabilities, it is not directed against any state, it cannot be used offensively. This system ranges within the 28 for 28 logic, it is clear — each member protects each member, the 360 degree approach, as NATO must be prepared to face all challenges, all risks. We are not talking about Russia here. We know Russia uses the occasion to be very vocal, but they know as much as we do that the system isn't in any way directed against Russia; however, NATO must be prepared to deal with other incidents, coming from another area, from outside the Euro-Atlantic space. I expect the other elements of the missile defence system to be set up — the next in Poland — to deal very well with some threats of this kind," Iohannis added.
He reiterated support for declaring the initial operational capability of NATO's missile defence system at an incoming summit in Warsaw, as well as for increasing NATO's part in counteracting the new risks in areas such as cyber defence, terror combat and energy security.
The head of state underscored that Romania remains a trustworthy partner, actively involved in adopting and implementing the NATO decisions, showing that the Romania's actions constantly prove it.
"Romania fully meets its commitments pledged to the NATO Summit of Wales, which proves we are a credible ally. Proof in this respect is the honoured promise to increase our defence spending to 2 percent of the GDP next year," Iohannis said.
He also showed that it is important to ensure a credible and predictable presence of NATO forces on the eastern side and achieving a balance between the northern dimension and the southern dimension of the flank. "In the same context, we want the establishment of a permanent NATO naval force in the Black Sea — certainly with the observance of the provisions of the Montreux Convention. Moreover, I find opportune an agreement on a solution to conduct joint training of the allied forces in the region," said Iohannis.
He welcomed the latest progress with strengthening NATO's role in combating hybrid threats and voiced hope that the Alliance will reach a comprehensive approach in the area to complete the efforts made in the EU.