With war in neighboring Ukraine and thousands of extra NATO troops deployed to Romania in the past month, the government on Sunday marked NATO Day.
Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca said Romania wanted to boost NATO’s presence on its territory to increase security amid uncertainty about what will happen in the region which has been rattled by the war.
Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 and millions have fled the conflict. More than 600,000 refugees from Ukraine have poured into Romania.
Mr. Ciuca, who previously served as the Chief of Staff said Russia’s “illegal military aggression against Ukraine and NATO’s response to this unprovoked invasion have demonstrated the key role of the Alliance.”
He said NATO had “acted swiftly and expeditiously to strengthen the security of the eastern flank.”
The Alliance announced at a March 24 summit it would deploy four new battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia to boost security.
Romania joined the military alliance in 2004 which places it “under the umbrella of the strongest politico-military alliance in history.”
Romania already spends 2% of its gross domestic product on defense and will up that figure to 2.5%, the country’s leaders have decided.
There are 3,000 soldiers from NATO countries, including about 2,000 Americans, currently mobilized in Romania.
The prime minister said that more than 20 Allied planes together with the Romanian Air Force are carrying out air police missions.
Romanians are among the most pro-NATO nations in the 30-member alliance according to the latest NATO survey, published in the Secretary-General’s annual activity report. Even before it joined NATO, Romania took part in Alliance efforts to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq.
„Politically and legally, we became members of NATO 18 years ago. But the Romanian Army acted as an allied military force years before, paving the way for our accession, for which we are eternally grateful to our soldiers and the sacrifices they have made on the battlefield. “
“Today, when our allies are with us. guaranteeing Romania’s security, we know that ‘Defense starts from home.’’
The NATO Day is a day commemorating the founding of NATO by the signing of the North-Atlantic Treaty on April 4, 1949. North Macedonia celebrates the day.
In Romania it is marked on the first Sunday of April and known as Ziua NATO.