Bucharest 9 foreign ministers mention NATO-Russia relationship, cyber threats among main themes in joint statement

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Romania's Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu on Monday attended a meeting in Warsaw of the Bucharest 9 (B9) foreign ministers - Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia - that ended with the release of a joint statement, according to the Romanian Foreign Ministry (MAE).

One of the themes in the statement is Russia's actions: "Russia's actions threaten the long-standing goal of a Europe whole, free and at peace".

According to the statement," terrorism has risen to unprecedented levels and poses a direct threat to the security of our populations."

According to ten signing foreign ministers, a solid transatlantic bond remains paramount to Euro-Atlantic security." "We welcome the US enhanced military commitment to the security and defence of Europe, including the significant increase in funding of the European Deterrence Initiative for 2018," the ministers add in their statement.

The importance of the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw is then mentioned, calling it a decisive step in strengthening NATO's overall posture in response to the new security environment.

Other mention was made of the priorities of the 2018 NATO Summit.

The ministers underscore working closely with their partners Finland and Sweden to address common security concerns, as well as fair burden sharing and NATO's contribution to fighting terrorism.

"Reiterating our full support to their territorial integrity, independence, sovereignty and legitimate aspirations, we will examine how to further strengthen the political dialogue and practical cooperation with Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova," the statement reads.

The document also mentions the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan "and capacity building efforts in the Southern periphery of the Alliance, including in Iraq in complementarity with the UN, the EU and relevant regional actors."

The signatories of the joint declaration reiterate their firm and principled position on Russia's aggressive actions in Ukraine and that they will not recognise what they call the illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea.

At the same time, the foreign ministers say "we believe that improving the Vienna Document mechanisms concerning dangerous military incidents can make an important contribution and a first step to rebuilding confidence in Europe."

Mention is also made of NATO-EU cooperation. "The future of enhanced EU security and defence policy lies in its further development based on inclusiveness, close coordination and complementarity with NATO. Initiatives in this area should contribute to increasing cohesion among member states."

The ministers welcome the establishment of the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats in Helsinki.

"Aware of the complexity and unpredictability of the security environment, which include important challenges to our countries, we reaffirm our readiness to continue to meet to assess the situation and the way to further contribute to Euro-Atlantic security," say the B9 foreign ministers.

Launched at the initiative of Romania and Poland, Bucharest 9 (B9) provides a platform for deepening dialogue and cooperation among the participating NATO allied countries in order to articulate the specific contribution of these states to ongoing NATO processes based on their experience and expertise and their common security interests, in full compliance with the principles of security solidarity and indivisibility of NATO member states. AGERPRES (RO — author: Oana Ghita, editor: Claudia Stanescu; EN — author: Corneliu-Aurelian Colceriu, editor: Rodica State)

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