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NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana said on Friday that there was intense geopolitical competition in the Black Sea region and added that the alliance, along with its partners, was taking deterrence, defence and resilience measures.

The statements were made on the second day of the Bucharest Forum 2021, an event organized by the Aspen Romania Institute together with the Bucharest office of the German Marshall Fund of the US, held under the High Patronage of the President of Romania.

"We are all concerned about Russia's situation and aggressive stance in and around Ukraine. We are taking steps to mitigate and deter this. We are also looking at NATO's partnership with countries like Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova. These are important partnerships for us. We are also looking closely at the Western Balkans, and our foreign ministers in Riga a few days ago have looked at these issues, and we are also looking at the Black Sea region, which has become a place of intense geopolitical competition and we are taking active steps to ensure deterrence, defence and resilience in the region, in the three NATO allies - Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey - but also with our close partners - Ukraine and Georgia - we are working hard together to maintain the Black Sea region safe, open to freedom of navigation, a place where ideas and business flourish without being blocked by geopolitical tensions," he said.

Geoana congratulated Romania on being selected to host the European Cybersecurity Competence Centre. According to him, the hosting of the Euro-Atlantic Centre for Resilience and the European Centre, in the innovative context of NATO and the EU, will contribute to Romania's assertion as a "competitive, innovative" economy and society. He also sent a message to the new prime minister, Nicolae Ciuca.

"I wish you success, for you took charge as PM at a very complex time. We know that your experience in defence and security will help you and, alongside the other leaders, regardless of their political colour, we have an obligation to invest in our Western anchors, in NATO and the EU, and to make sure that our interests and aspirations are successfully fulfilled," said Mircea Geoana.

The NATO Deputy Secretary General added that a "strong, democratic and resilient society" is "the first line of defence" in the context of the current challenges.

"Jens Stoltenberg said yesterday that authoritarian powers openly undermine global rules in order to increase their power and influence. I am glad that Bucharest Forum 2021 focuses on resilience, green and digital revolution (...) The pandemic, that concerns us so much and that is putting so much pressure on our societies, people and institutions - the pandemic is just one element of this transformative cocktail, an expression of the twists and turns of human history and evolution. A strong and resilient society is the first line of defence. Army, security, NATO and the EU are very important, but the first line of defence is represented by a strong, democratic, resilient society, and we need to keep that in mind," he said.

Geoana underscored the importance of adjusting to a "complex and important period" in human history, noting that since its inception, NATO has been constantly adjusting to a constantly changing strategic environment.

"Regarding resilience, we started working in 2016 and I am glad to see that Romania and Bucharest will host the Euro-Atlantic Centre for Resilience and I encourage their involvement in this endeavor. I am also glad that NATO has gotten very seriously involved in recent years, stepping up efforts in recent times in terms of the security implications of climate change," he said.

He drew attention to the scale and speed of the technological revolution, discussing artificial intelligence, big data, biotechnology, new materials.

"NATO is at the forefront of innovation and I am pleased to work with the European Union in complementarity. I am pleased that Bucharest Forum addresses both the NATO strategy concept and the EU Strategic Compass. They must be convergent and complementary in everything we do," the NATO Deputy Secretary General said. AGERPRES (RO - author: Irinela Visan, editor: Florin Marin, EN - author: Cristina Zaharia, editor: Adina Panaitescu)

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