Turkey- Romania calls for permanent NATO Black Sea Force
(MENAFN- The Journal Of Turkish Weekly) Romania’s new push for a stronger NATO involvement in Eastern Europe this time by creating a permanent alliance fleet in the Black Sea in a move aimed to counter Russia’s strong involvement in the region was welcomed by analysts in the country. “NATO has to be prepared for threats and challenges wherever they arise including on its eastern flank. A permanent NATO fleet in the Black Sea will contribute decisively in this regard and its role should be only to protect and deter” said military analyst Constantin Corneanu. Defence Minister Mihnea Motoc on Sunday announced Romania this month is to take the first steps to negotiate with NATO to set up a regular multinational naval patrol in the Black Sea. “The possibility of creating such a fleet might be discussed at the next NATO summit in July” Motoc said. He added Romania must be ready by then with a clear plan and proposal. Media reports say the regular flotilla might include ships from NATO countries bordering the Black Sea namely Bulgaria Romania and Turkey but also from Germany Italy and the United States. However under the1936 Montreux Convention warships of countries not bordering the Black Sea are prohibited from spending more than 21 days at a time there. Romania faces other challenges to securing NATO naval involvement in the region analysts have cautioned.
“Bucharest has to convince its allies that such a development is not too expensive then that the fleet could be useful in the context of other security threats such as terrorism or cyberterrorism. And finally the move should not cause international turmoil especially in Russia” political analyst Andrei Tarnea told RFI radio on Monday. “It will not be an easy task” he added. Worried by the conflict in eastern Ukraine and by Russia’s annexation of Crimea Romania and some other former communist countries Poland and the Baltic states included have repeatedly asked NATO to station forces permanently in their territories. However Germany and other western members of NATO worried about a sharp Russian response have rebuffed these appeals and have opted to intensify joint exercises and rotate alliance troops through the region. As a result NATO last year beefed up its presence in the Black Sea region by dispatching a flotilla to train with ships from the Romanian Bulgarian and Turkish navies. Bucharest has considerably increased its defence budget for this year with money planned to be spent on modernizing its navy including the King Ferdinand and Queen Maria frigates. NATO-member Romania is one of the Alliance’s strongest supporters among the ex-Communist countries of Eastern Europe. In December the US Navy has formally inaugurated its new missile defence base in Deveselu southern Romania. This is one of two European land-based interceptor sites for a NATO missile shield a scheme which is viewed with deep suspicion by Russia. It will be the first to feature the Aegis Ashore ballistic missile system a land-based version of the radar tracking system installed on US warships since 2004. The base is to be staffed by 200 to 500 US military civilian and contract employees. Russia has warned Romania however to abandon the anti-missile system the US is installing at Deveselu. Relations between Bucharest and Moscow are already rocky. Romania has been among the strongest regional backers of the package of Western sanctions imposed on Russia in connection with the crisis in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Moscow meanwhile objects to any NATO build-up or expansion seeing it as a threat to Russian security. Romania also hosts another major US military base at Mihail Kogalniceanu airport near the Black Sea which became operational in 2007.
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