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President Klaus Iohannis said Thursday that Romania is committed to spending 2 percent of GDP on defence and is ready to carry out the army's endowment programs, but said that, not having enough the exercise of wide-scale strategic endowment programs, things move somewhat slower.

"In CSAT [the Supreme Council for National Defence of Romania, ed.n.], we have been discussing these issues from the outset and we have realized that we have a great strategic opportunity - here, for the first time in many years, we can approach the Army's endowment from a strategic point of view We have a ten-year plan, which makes possible acquisitions that have not been at all within the reach of the Ministry of Defence or the Army. We have the strategic endowment programs and we, Romania, are ready to carry out these endowments. Some have started very well and are in progress. We mustn't say that nothing is happening. It's happening We have ongoing strategic programs. Not having, since the Revolution, any major program of strategic endowment, things are moving somewhat slower.You cannot expect, from one day to the other, for departments that have been in charge with rather small acquisitions to be all of a sudden highly effective in big strategic procurement. And that's it. Disruptions, unforeseen problems occur and all these need to be overcome," Iohannis said at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace at a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

The head of state also spoke about the postponement of the tender for the purchase of certain corvettes.

"In CSAT we have discussed each year how we adapt these strategic programs, we are on schedule. Why is there no progress on the corvettes is a question that the Ministry of Defence will probably answer better. As far as I am concerned, things from the point of view of the CSAT are clear - the Government, in this case the Ministry of Defence, has to deliver and I hope this approach is also that of the Ministry of Defence. The concrete answer to the corvette tender will be received when the ministry is likely to receive the answer to that referral they have made, having, so they say, certain elements of uncertainty, but we generally know what we want. We have the funds available, because it is a commitment of Romania, it is not just a commitment of the Government or only of the CSAT, and we will carry things out," said Iohannis.

In his turn, the NATO Secretary General said he expects everyone who has committed themselves to reaching the 2 percent of GDP for defence will keep their word.

As far as the plan to reach 2 percent, I understand that the figure is also expected for 2019 and I expect everyone to keep their word with regard to Defence spending. Romania is very close and I hope that this year it will be able to reach the 2 percent. We find that most of the allies are investing in Defence. Since 2016 onwards, the European and Canadian allies have added 41 billion dollars to the defence budget. Based on the national plans received from the allies, we expect this figure to rise to 100 billion by the end of next year, the NATO official said.AGERPRES(RO - author: Florentina Peia, editor: Andreea Rotaru; EN - author: Simona Iacob, editor: Maria Voican)

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