Romania is an important ally due to its position on NATO’s Eastern flank and the Black Sea, Secretary Esper said.
Diplomatic relations were established between the United States and Romania starting in 1880 and the bonds have never been stronger. Secretary Esper noted that the two countries have “cultivated a strategic partnership committed to advancing peace, democracy, economic freedom, and the rule of law.”
During the visit the Secretary and the Minister discussed defense modernization, Black Sea security and cooperation, and China’s growing malign influence in the region. They also highlighted the mutual commitment to the NATO Alliance and international security.
When the meeting ended, the Secretary joined Minister Ciucă in signing a 10-year “Roadmap for Defense Cooperation.” This builds upon the strong spirit of defense cooperation between the two countries.
The road map captures the defense cooperation and captures the nations’ common strategic goals and shared interests, such as defense modernization and Black Sea-area security.
Romania has hosted training exercises that improve interoperability while strengthening deterrence against Russia along NATO’s eastern flank. The U.S. is also grateful for the strong commitment of the alliance, Esper said, while referring to hosting the Aegis Ashore missile defense facility that is key to NATO’s defense.
The Secretary also thanked the Defense Minister for exceeding NATO defense spending commitments. Romania increased defense spending in recent years to exceed the pledged 2% of its gross domestic product. This serves as a powerful example to other allied nations, noted Esper.
“Our collective security and prosperity depend on all partner nations making the necessary investments for a more ready and capable alliance,” Esper said.
America’s commitment to NATO and Article 5 is “ironclad and America stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Romania as we advance peace, democracy, freedom and our other shared values,” he said.
Article 5 states that if a NATO ally is attacked, every other member of the alliance will consider this as an attack against all members. The allies will take the actions it deems necessary to assist the ally being attacked.
Ciuca said: “The United States is our strongest ally. Romania’s recent National Defense Strategy 2020-2024 highlights both the importance and the priority of working together in securing U.S. strategic flexibility in the Black Sea.”
Romania is investing in modernizing Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, which is near the Black Sea, he pointed out.
Ciuca also noted that just two weeks ago, Romania took delivery of the Patriot surface-to-air missile system. This makes Romania the first nation on NATO’s eastern flank to field it.