On Thursday, Romanian Defense Minister Nicolae Ciuca and his US counterpart Mark Esper signed in Washington a ten-year roadmap for defense cooperation. The document includes strategic priorities for strengthening cooperation on the Black Sea, the continuous rotation of US forces in Romania, strengthening efforts in the field of cyber security, resilience, and US assistance in meeting allied capabilities and modernizing the armed forces.
Our countries enjoy an exceptional and lasting Strategic Partnership, built over time and in many missions in theaters of operations, where our soldiers fought together. The United States is a trustworthy partner and reliable ally, said the Romanian Minister of National Defense, Nicolae Ciucă. He emphasized that the intensification of the exercise program carried out on the Romanian territory, in an allied and bilateral framework with the US armed forces, is part of the general objective of consolidating NATO's presence and visibility on the eastern flank.
At the same time, Nicolae Ciucă underlined the Romanian Army's concern for improving the elements of military mobility, as shown by the programs already started to modernize the infrastructure of the military bases in Mihail Kogălniceanu (southeast) and Câmpia Turzii (northwest). The Romanian Minister of Defense recalled that, a few weeks ago, the first PATRIOT system was received in Romania, which has thus become the first country in the Eastern Flank to include in the equipment of its armed forces long range ground-to-air missile systems.
In turn, the US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said the United States' commitment to NATO and Article 5 was ironclad, adding that the US would continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Romania. "Relations between the United States and Romania have never been stronger," said the Washington official, who spoke of Romania's importance as an ally, both due to its position on NATO's eastern flank and in the Black Sea area.
According to the Radio Romania correspondent in Washington, Mark Esper thanked Romania, saying it regularly hosted training exercises that raised the level of interoperability and strengthened measures to discourage Russia on NATO's eastern flank. "We also are grateful for your strong commitment to the defense of our alliance, particularly by hosting the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Facility, which is a key element in NATO's missile-defense capabilities", the US official said. "Moreover - he said - Romania's increased defense spending in recent years exceeds the 2% of GDP commitment and serves as a powerful example for other allied nations." (M. Ignatescu)