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NATO presence in the Black Sea region is a strategic imperative and it is Romania's right to demand this, said Interim Defence Minister Nicolae Ciuca at the 2019 activity review of the Defence Ministry, on Tuesday.

"For us, ensuring a more robust NATO presence at the Black Sea has been the main objective. Through the joint efforts of the President of Romania, diplomacy and Defence, we are witnessing a greater awareness today that coherence and cohesion are needed throughout our neighborhood, with a 360 degree coverage," he said.

He evoked "legitimate concerns about the security of the area". "We believe that NATO presence in the Black Sea region is a strategic imperative. It is our right to demand this and to have an enhanced forward presence of the Alliance throughout the Eastern Flank. At the same time, it is our duty to develop credible complementary and interoperable defence capabilities with the allied ones," Ciuca pointed out.

In his opinion, "the most worrying evolution is that, through Crimea, Russia can project a self-assumed hegemony in the Black Sea, with important consequences on the Alliance's deterrence forces."

"Ultimately, the intention of this intensified militarization is to prevent NATO and its allies from operating freely in the region. The deployment of anti-access and regional interdiction capabilities represents a major transformation of security in the Black Sea. The logic of deterrence and military balance are changing," said the interim defence minister.

He also emphasized that "the Western Balkans continue to remain a region with a fragile balance of security and stability."

President Klaus Iohannis and interim Prime Minister Ludovic Orban are present at the review activity meeting of the Ministry of Defence. AGERPRES (RO - author: Oana Ghită, editor: Georgiana Tanasescu; EN - author: Bogdan Gabaroi, editor: Simona Iacob)

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