Complementarity and mutual support between the European Union and NATO; this is Romania's view in the field of defence
Romania is interested in a development of the European Union's role in the field of defence, with full complementarity and mutual support between the EU and NATO, the line minister Gabriel Les stated on Thursday at a meeting of the EU Military Committee held in Bucharest under the aegis of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The equipment of the Romanian Army remains a challenge after a long period of underfunding, but, with Bucharest earmarking 2% of its GDP to defence, for the 3rd consecutive year, the replacement of its old systems is underway. Minister Les has explained that the Romanian Air Forces will receive new F-16 planes, and that in the future Bucharest plans to purchase state-of-the-art F-35 aircraft.
In 2013, Romania signed a 600-million euro contract with Portugal for the procurement of 12 F-16 planes. The first 6 of them reached the Romanian Air Forces in September 2016, another 3 in December 2016, and the last 3 in October 2017. Bucharest would like to buy another 36 now, to replace the old MIGs that the Army is operating at present.
Here is Defence Minister Gabriel Les, talking about the intentions of the Romanian authorities in this field:
"We are moving on to see the solution proposed by our strategic partner with respect to the 36 planes that we intend to buy, and then we will look at the F-35 programme. We have also received information on this from the partners in the USA. So we are in the first stage of the procurement of F-35 aircraft. This is what the future of the Romanian Air Forces should look like. The important thing at this point is for us to think, for the first time, about making this F-16 fleet operational, and I mean the first 12, then the next 36, and then of course we will be thinking about the Stealth aircraft, a very advanced technology."
In turn, the Chief of Staff, Gen. Nicolae Ciuca, said at the meeting of the EU Military Committee that ensuring security at the Black Sea and in the Western Balkans was an essential component of Romania's international profile in the field of defence, and that Bucharest supported the partnership between the EU and NATO by strengthening dialogue and cooperation. Nicolae Ciuca:
"We believe in a strong trans-Atlantic relation and in close cooperation between the EU and NATO. We support the consistency of the planning processes and instruments of the European Union and of NATO, as the best means to prevent or, at least, to reduce redundancies and to strengthen the ties between the 2 organisations."
Romania has been more than once described as a security provider and a pillar of regional stability. This view was reiterated in Bucharest on Thursday by the chairman of the EU Military Committee, Gen. Claudio Graziano, who thanked Romania for its valuable and very professional contribution to the military operations and missions conducted by the European Union.