70 years ago, NATO was founded. The event, the history, the current status and the perspective of the Alliance were debated at Festivalul de Film si Istorii Rasnov 2019 by col. Scott A. Weston, military attaché of the US Embassy in Romania, col. Constantin Spînu, chief of the Information and Public Affairs Directorate of the National Defense Ministry of Romania, Dominik Jankowski – political adviser and Head of the Political Section in the Permanent Delegation of Poland at NATO, and Claudiu Degeratu , security analyst.
Col. Scott A. Weston, about the values of NATO:
„If you read the NATO charter, it talks about democracy, individual liberty and rule of law. NATO is the instrument, the mechanism of preventing other people from taking that away from people like you, in the audience, wanting to live according to these values.
What has changed in 70 years of NATO is not the values, but the threats. You are NATO, your values are under threat, you have to decide and convince your government how to protect your values.
Your Government won’t provide the required security unless you ask for it. And the way of doing this is by going to the vote and electing that leaders able to provide that security. Your focus and your vote will convince NATO to be strong and your country to be strong in NATO.”
Col. Constantin Spînu, about 15 years of Romania in NATO:
„We are not only celebrating 70 years of NATO, we are also celebrating 15 years since Romania joined NATO.
Before 1990, there were two blocks (NATO and the Warsaw Treaty) and the name of the game was deterring. On paper, both NATO and the Warsaw Treaty, founded six years after NATO, they had the same targets and the same principles. However, there was a significant difference. The Warsaw Treaty was about fear of the big neighbour, while NATO was and is about freedom, countries joined NATO because they wanted to. The NATO treaty did not change in these 70 years, showing that the initial principles are still valid.
In Romania, we have the most important military trainings in our entire history. The border of NATO is the same as the border of EU. We have to be sure that we can provide to our people freedom, security and ability to live according to our own principles.
Dominik Jankowski, about the change of the NATO strategy after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014:
„The NATO Poland joined 20 years ago was a different NATO. But I think the NATO that we dreamed about is the current NATO, not the one we joined.
2014 was a game changer. We have always underlined Russia as a challenge and potential threat. After 2014, we had, for the first time in our history, NATO combat troops on our territory. I think this is a big political accomplishment to have, among others, US soldiers on the ground, in Poland. And the same it is for Estonia or Romania. At the same time, we need even more troops in the southern part of NATO.”
Col. Scott A. Weston, about collective defence:
If we are all equally protected, we should equally participate to the protection. There is the provision that 2% of the GDP of every member state should go the to defense spending.
Col. Constantin Spînu, about collective defence:
„We consider the territory of all the members of NATO a single territory. What we have seen since 2014 is the biggest reinforcement of collective defence in the NATO history.
For instance, in 2017, we had approximately 25,000 troops in Romania for the largest military training exercise in our history, Saber Guardian 2017. Imagine how difficult was to organize the transport and accommodation of all those people.
Dominik Jankowski, about collective defence:
The world does not wait for NATO to adapt. Russia is the major element destabilizing our security. They pose a military threat. Russia is a strategic competitor.
Although all NATO members agreed to spend 2% of GDP on military defense, only few members actually do this. We do not understand why some Western European countries, despite the fact they are much richer than Poland or Romania, do not spend those 2% on defense.”
Col. Scott A. Weston, on US military presence in Europe:
„Although some experts say that US are disengaging from Europe, the truth is the opposite. For example, over 100 US Navy are, at all time, in Deveselu providing ballistic missile defence for NATO. We are spending more money in Europe, we have more troops in Europe, have a look at the numbers and convince yourselves.
As we have stated, the US commitment to article 5 is ironclad. The US is not disengaging, as some people are trying to convince you, the engagement of the US in Europe is stronger than ever!
We understand that EU has security issues not related to NATO, but we think that those issues should not conflict with NATO.”
Col. Scott A. Weston, on relations between NATO and Turkey:
„Turkey has made some decisions, some choices that we all disagree with. However, we are still the same alliance, same family. We disagree with some members, it happened before, it happened with France, but here we are, years after, we are still at the same table. We still believe in dialogue to resolve our differences.”
Col. Scott A. Weston, on Georgia and Ukraine joining NATO:
„The US supports the roadmap of Georgia and Ukraine. They are in a difficult situation, they have things to do. Individual liberty and rule of law are essential values of NATO that those countries need to continue supporting. The door of NATO is open.”
Col. Scott A. Weston, on Georgia and Ukraine joining NATO:
„We see Russia continuing to increase their presence in the Black Sea, to increase their missile system, to grow additional capabilities. It is clear that, in the short term they are increasing their capabilities.
There are people saying that, on a long term, they will reduce their military expenditure. But what if they don’t?”
Foto: Daniel Secărescu