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At a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels on Thursday, Romania's acting Defence Minister Nicolae-Ionel Ciuca underscored the importance of a robust, efficient and credible NATO presence in Romania, given the complex and volatile security situation in the Black Sea area.

According to the Romanian Defence Ministry (MApN), in his speech to the meeting Ciuca presented the latest developments in the implementation of measures circumscribed to the tailored forward presence (tFP) and emphasised the importance of the NATO contributions to the strengthening of the fighting capacity of the Multinational Brigade South-East (MN BDE-SE), to the continuation under the best circumstances of the enhanced air policing mission (eAP), as well as to the establishment of the Headquarters Multinational Division South East (HQ MNC-SE).

He also pointed to Romania continuing the implementation of its commitment in the field of burden sharing, underscoring that this year a percentage of 2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was allocated for defence spending, funds that will allow investments to be focused on the necessary capabilities and equipment to successfully face the security conditions in the region.

On the second day of the ministerial meeting, the NATO defence ministers had an exchange of views on the implementation of the strengthened posture of deterrence and defence and equitable burden sharing.

The session addressed a number of additional NATO response recommendations to Russia's development of medium-range missile systems, as well as the developments in the implementation of the NATO Readiness Initiative, the implementation of the NATO Command Structure, the commissioning/preparation of the SACEUR area of responsibility, and NATO cyber defence.

The last working session, in the format of the Resolute Support Mission (RSM), provided a framework for discussing the progress with the peace process in Afghanistan and the prospects for the future developments in the Resolute Support Mission, with the participation of operational partners.

Ciuca emphasised the importance that Romania attaches to the continuation of NATO's commitment in Afghanistan, as well as the national interest in the successful unfolding of the peace process, with a major role for the evolution of NATO involvement in the region. He said that Romania will maintain its contribution to Afghanistan, in line with the NATO plans, adding that Romania is currently the fifth largest NATO contributor to the Resolute Support Mission.

On the side-lines of the NATO ministerial meeting, Ciuca had a bilateral meeting with his Luxembourgian counterpart Francois Bausch to discuss the prospects for intensifying bilateral defence co-operation and current security and defence affairs on NATO agenda. He also mentioned the national efforts to set up the Headquarters Multinational Division South East (HQ MNC-SE) and asked for support to implement the projects associated with the development of this structure. The two dignitaries discussed a series of multinational initiatives being set up within the NATO framework that Romania and Luxembourg could join as part of equitable burden sharing. AGERPRES (RO - author: Florentina Peia, editor: Mihai Simionescu; EN - author: Corneliu-Aurelian Colceriu, editor: Adina Panaitescu)

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