Jacek Dankowski: What is Minister's perception on security cooperation between Romania and Poland?
Romanian Minister of National Defence Vasile Dîncu: The bilateral defense cooperation between Romania and Poland has constantly been developed on the bases of historical collaboration between our armed forces, but also as NATO and EU frontline states. We share similar security concerns. We engage frequently on excellent political-military dialogue at all levels.
Just to give you an example, each year, our defense ministries sign a Bilateral Cooperation Plan, designed to be the main instrument for setting our agenda of cooperation. Our common activities are focused on domains such as: military education and training, combating hybrid warfare, cyber defense and cooperation between our special operations forces.
During these complicated times we need to have a constant and fast decision making process, but also to coordinate our efforts. The invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation demonstrated that our unity and solidarity are not slogans, they are facts!
How about cooperation in broader formats, to project stability in the region?
Romania and Poland are concrete examples of how cohesion works. Together we developed the Bucharest 9 format, which has become an important platform during the current crises. We had frequent meetings with our US allies and NATO to coordinate our response to the Russian Federation outrageous behavior.
Romania and Poland developed a very practical and efficient method of harmonizing our positions, which generated concrete results in the implementation of the Allied deterrence and defense posture.
Moreover, our cooperation does not stop here. We are together involved in the Three Seas Initiative, developing important projects in infrastructure and energy. At the political-diplomatic level, the Romanian-Poland-Turkey Trilateral has proven itself as a useful way to discuss our common security concerns.
Could you summarise the initiatives undertaken last year as well as those planned for the near term perspective?
Just as a reminder, 2021 was a special year for both countries – we celebrated the Centennial of the Romanian-Polish Alliance (March 1921 – March 2021). In this context, last year was a very active one when it came to bilateral activities linked to the scientific field: we organized bilateral round tables, international conferences and military history exhibitions.
The Action Plan for 2022 – 2026, associated to our Strategic Partnership and signed on the occasion of G2G meeting, aims at further strengthening the already deep ties of friendship and strategic cooperation between our countries and contains an important part covering the security and defense field.
I am confident that our bilateral cooperation will continue in this note of friendship, unity and solidarity. Now we are in a position to respond to the gravest security crisis that Europe has faced in decades. Romania and Poland are both neighbors of Ukraine and the steps already taken in welcoming Ukrainian refugees and helping the Ukrainian Armed Forces with donations stand proof of our steadfast commitment to the human rights and international law.
What are Romanian considerations concerning potential response to current situation Ukrainian aspects?
First of all, let me underline that Romania considers that there cannot be any, and I stress, any explanation for the ruthless war that the Russian Federation is conducting right now in Ukraine, by bombing civil infrastructure and displacing tens of thousands of innocent civilians.
It looks like Moscow has not learned anything from the bloodshed past that has foreshadowed our continent last century. Our goal, as a democratic nation, is ensuring peace and the wellbeing of any human being. Russia proposed to change the European security architecture and to establish spheres of influence. This is unacceptable. We have stressed many times that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine are non-negotiable.
Romania, as a neighboring country, feels even more responsible for helping the Ukrainian people, which is why our Government intensified its efforts in supporting the Ukrainian refugees. We are making sure that all these men, women and children are well taking care of, by having a warm place to stay, access to food and supplies, but also to the medical system. Also, our Government has launched a blood donation campaign and treatment readiness for the benefit of Ukrainian wounded, through the military hospitals network.
How many refugees arrived into Romania?
Yesterday, our minister of interior announced that more than 115.000 Ukrainian refugees have entered our territory, 40% decided to stay. What really impressed me was the huge number of children and teenagers, more than 18.000 (the conversation did take place several days ago - Author).
We also know that Romania is providing assistance to Ukraine, as well as increasing its own defence spending as a whole.
The Romanian Ministry of National Defense has approved a donation of military protective equipment and ammunition to Ukraine, of 3 mil. Euro.
Romania's contribution to the international community's efforts in support of Ukraine will be further increased by the development of a logistic hub on our territory to support distribution of goods to Ukraine.
The gravity of the situation created by the Russian intervention in Ukraine oblige us to step up for our defense.
In this regard, our President stated after the meeting of the National Supreme Defence Council on March 1st, that Romania will make steps to raise the GDP percentage allocated to defence – from 2% at present to 2,5% and to enhance our energetic independence by identifying the most feasible options of using regenerable resources.
In the same time, we are working on intensifying our bilateral and allied cooperation aimed at consolidating the allied deterrence and defense posture on the Eastern flank by means of allied contributions with troops and accelerating the development of the Battle Group in Romania.
I would like to emphasize the crucial role of civil society. Due to the hundreds of support offers from citizens, companies, businessmen and so on, the Romanian Government created the Ukraine Platform – Together, we help more! in order to coordinate the support measures of all private, international organizations and governmental institutions.
What NATO should consider and implement in order to effectively response to current situation?
In recent weeks, Allies have deployed thousands more troops to the eastern, central and south-eastern part of the Alliance and placed more on standby. There are over 100 jets at high alert and are more than 120 Allied ships at sea, from the High North to the Mediterranean.
As decided by the NATO Heads of States and Governments, on 25th February this year, for the first time in alliance recent history, the collective Graduated Response Plans have been activated.
The elements of the NATO Response Force, particularly the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) have started to be deployed in strengthening the collective posture in support of security of the frontline allies in Eastern Europe, including Poland and Romania.
So you think that NATO is fulfilling its role well.
NATO will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect the Alliance and all its members from any form of aggression.
The French forces in the VJTF are arriving in Romania. Belgium and Portugal have also announced their contribution to the VJTF (300 troops, respectively 170 troops). The Netherlands is also analyzing its contributions.
Battle Groups operationalization in the Central and Eastern European member states, Romania included, is desired to be realized in an accelerated manner.
We are very grateful to the Polish soldiers that are in Romania for a good period of time in the Multinational Brigade South-Est in Craiova.
But let me emphasize also the strong reaction of the international community. Romania supports the adoption of a robust package of EU sanctions against the Russian Federation. In this regard, a common perspective of the EU Member States on the main triggers is of great importance.
The sanctions imposed to Russia in coordination with the US, the EU and the G7 states are a necessary tool to determine the Moscow regime to stop this aggression. We need to continue to increase the pressure on the Russian regime.