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NATO's Deputy SecGen Geoana: Romanian-American Strategic Partnership becomes more robust each year

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The Romanian-American Strategic Partnership is becoming more robust each year, regardless of the administrations in Bucharest or in Washington, said on Monday Mircea Geoana, during an online briefing, in Brussels, for Romanian journalists, hailing, in his quality as NATO Deputy Secretary General, as positive any additional form of collaboration between allies.

"The document signed by the American Secretary of Defense and the Romanian Minister of National Defence regarding a plan for the next ten years is a document that contains several important guidelines, although obviously it will depend on the two allied states to make it concrete and then develop in concrete operational plans these elements of collaboration between the two allied states," added Geoana, mentioning that the "level of synergy between the USA and Romania and many other Europeans is very high."

Geoana mentioned that Romania is not the only state that attempts to consolidate on the bilateral level the collaboration with the US, giving in this sense the example of Poland, which has a similar approach.

In context, Mircea Geoana spoke also of the NATO-EU collaboration on the topic of military mobility in forums such as the Three Seas Initiative, of which Romania is part of.

"Everything meaning infrastructure which are at the same time economic (...) and which have a dual military and strategic utility are things that we are encouraging. That's why we expect at the level of the EU also the EU budget be approved, the financial perspective for the next seven years. It's true that the sum today, at 1.5 billion euro, is not as ambitious as the initial proposal, but even if the money is relatively less, the way in which the EU and NATO are working together on topics of military mobility is a precursor for what we will have to do," Mircea Geoana also said.

In Western Europe there is dual use infrastructure since the Cold War, "which can support the rapid transit of very heavy military equipment over bridges, through tunnels, on motorways."

"These have to be done in our area too, I am speaking of Romania's geography (...), and I believe that it's a plus both from the economic point of view, as well as from the strategic point of view, and brings an element of additional resilience and I am glad to see that there is also in the Three Seas Initiative projects such as a north-south railway, elements that represent a step forward both economically, as well as militarily and strategically for our region and for Romania," Geoana emphasized.

 

We are confident that NATO will be able to work with either of two US administrations

 

NATO Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoana voiced his confidence on Monday in an online briefing with Romanian journalists in Brussels that the Alliance will be able to work with either of the two US administrations following the results of the November 3 elections and that the US relationship with Europe through NATO will continue to be an important anchor of US foreign policy.

Asked how "heated" things are within NATO in the perspective of the American presidential elections, especially in the context of tensions with Washington, especially due to the United States' insistence on increasing the defense budgets of the member states to 2% of GDP, Mircea Geoana answered that "obviously, the absolutely sovereign, democratic decision is up to the American people."

NATO's Deputy Secretary-General has stressed that the United States has been a key ally for 71 years.

"There have been times in the history of our Alliance when administrations have changed or the same administration continued, there have been times when the transatlantic conversation has had different tones, there's nothing new. That's why we have full confidence that the US relationship with Europe through NATO will continue to be an important anchor of American foreign policy," Geoana said.

And the reasons for such a privileged relationship are China's rise, Russia's increasingly aggressive game "not only in the Black Sea area, but also globally, militarily, in terms of security," but also the challenges in relation to the new technologies.

"The United States needs Europe, just as Europe needs the United States. I would say even more. Europe and the United States, we need all the democratic countries globally to be able to face unprecedented challenges in recent decades and maybe in recent centuries, when it comes to the rise of China," said Geoana.

"That is why we are confident that regardless of the result of November 3 - there may be a small gap until the winner is known due to the voting by mail - we will be able to work with either of the two administrations and continue to invest in a transatlantic relationship which is indispensable for the present and future of Europe and for the present and future of America as a global power," he said.

Geoana, on the other hand, considered that the legitimate interest of the US "to see more and more European allies investing in defense and sharing this burden of military spending is something that was also bluntly said by the (Barack) Obama administration, during which Mr. Joe Biden was the vice president."

The senior NATO official stressed that since 2014 there has been a steady increase in defense budgets from European allies and Canada.

"Right now we have noticed that if we look at the aggregate figures, 130 billion US dollars are additionally being invested in defense. So we believe that the interest and the convincing way in which the US encourages us to play a greater role in the security zone will continue," Geoana also said.

 

For NATO, as an alliance, it is extremely important to maintain the integrity of its collective defense systems and make sure that they remain fully operational, NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana told an online briefing for Romanian journalists held today from Brussels, following Turkey's October 16 testing of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft weapon system considered incompatible with NATO defense systems.

"During his recent visit to Ankara, Secretary-General Stoltenberg mentioned the S-400 subject. It is a matter of concern for us, as an alliance, and from the standpoint of sensitive, major collective defense systems, it is important that we keep the integrity of our systems and make sure that they remain fully operational, including as regards the protection of Turkey, a very important ally for which the Alliance has a dedicated defense and deterrence plan which is also very important for the Turkish allies, this is not just a one-way approach," said Mircea Geoana.

As for the broader tensions between Turkey and certain NATO allies, Geoana acknowledged that this is a delicate moment, but expressed his conviction that the values that unite the member states are stronger than these moments of "public emotion".

"We've experienced more tense moments throughout our history, starting with the Suez Crisis and continuing with the Cyprus Crisis in the '70s (...), issues that are still unresolved today. An economic dimension came on top of these geopolitical elements, massive gas and energy reserves have been discovered in the Eastern Mediterranean basin, which brought forth issues such as the delimitation of exclusive maritime areas, of the continental shelves, and which were exacerbated even more between Greece and Turkey," said the NATO Deputy Secretary General.

The senior NATO official brought to mind that Turkey is also present in Syria, "trying to maintain a certain kind of balance there, including by preventing a large number of refugees and immigrants from getting to Turkey and then possibly to Europe."

There is however some "good news" from the Eastern Mediterranean, Geoana said. "The Libyan ceasefire announcement appears to have some more substantial elements," he explained, including the monitoring of the withdrawal of the foreign mercenaries mobilized in the conflict to garrisons and possibly to their countries of origin.

Geoana also renewed the condemnation of the attack on the history teacher in Paris, which prompted the French authorities to directly scrutinize a series of militant Islamic groups, subsequently triggering a battle of statements with Ankara.

Speaking about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Mircea Geoana said that "there is a new attempt to establish a ceasefire. (...) The Minsk Group, which has explicit jurisdiction within the OSCE over the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, has brokered the truce. Let's see if things stabilize a little," and firmly called on all forces, including those with a direct or indirect influence on the conflicting parties, to help defuse the situation.

"This is also a lesson, if you want. What seem to be at one point frozen conflicts, can suddenly heat up in a more complex geopolitical context and become open conflicts. I think this is a lesson and an encouragement to vigilance over the significance of these frozen conflict areas which unfortunately abound on the periphery of the former Soviet empire and which are very important for European security," Geoana said.

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