Iohannis: Black Sea naval initiative refers to joint training exercise; nobody creates NATO fleet
AGERPRES special correspondent Florentina Peia reports: Romania's President Klaus Iohannis said Thursday that the Black Sea naval initiative regards joint training and exercises, insisting that NATO cannot and does not want to keep a fleet in the Black Sea.
"I have seen all kinds of interpretation. Maybe it is good for me to clarify a little before everybody starts venturing speculations. The initiative I introduced to the Bulgarian President and Prime Minister is an initiative designed for cooperation in the area of joint exercises and joint training of the Romanian, Bulgarian and Turkish naval forces. This is the so-called naval initiative, and it does not comprise all naval forces, just joint exercises and training," Iohannis said in response to recent statements by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.
He said the initiative should be deployed under the NATO umbrella, because all the three Black Sea countries — Romania, Bulgaria and Tukey — are NATO allies.
''Where the misunderstanding probably emerged was in relation to the concept of NATO fleet. Nobody creates a NATO fleet. That would be nonsense. NATO cannot and does not want to keep its own Black Sea fleet, said Iohannis.
He added that the technical details of the initiative will be discussed and negotiated.
"It is too early now to say how the initiative will come to pass, but the things I have said are quite certain. The initiative is aimed at joined exercises and training of naval forces. (...) Discussions over the initiative started long ago; it's been almost one year now. Everybody have their own opinions and the right to their own opinion, but I do believe it is a very good initiative that in the main stage aims to make the naval forces of three NATO allies compatible," added Iohannis.
Talking to journalists earlier in the day, Borissov commented reports that he objected to the idea of creating a joint navy of Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine to neutralize Russia's naval presence in the Black Sea, the Bulgarian BTA news agency reported on Thursday.
Thursday's "24 Chassa" Bulgarian newspaper writes that Borissov disapproved of the initiative Romanian President Iohannis put forward in Sofia, while President Rosen Plevneliev reportedly backed it. The daily also alleges that following Borissov's rejection of the idea, Turkey unilaterally suspended the agreement on the readmission of migrants.
Borissov told the reporters: "I stand up for NATO and the EU, I stand up for Bulgaria's economic interests, but this line must not be crossed. If the Bulgarians think otherwise, they will replace me with somebody else. (...) I want to see sailboats, yachts, tourists, peace and love in our Black Sea resorts, I do not want frigates crisscrossing the sea. We can have Bulgarian-Romanian exercises any time we want, but that other thing would be opting for a military conflict," said Borissov. (...) Bulgaria is one of the most loyal EU and NATO members. We have a Bulgarian-American base, we hold exercises and conferences, training goes on all the time, we have done everything we must do as NATO members. Even amid this crisis we revised our policy and increased armament spending to put the armed forces at ease," said Borissov.
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