Romania Seeks Bigger NATO Presence In East Europe

Romania's Prime Minister, Victor Ponta, on Monday said that one of his objectives at the upcoming NATO summit in Wales is to obtain a commitment for a “clear NATO military presence" in Romania and the region.

“It is extremely important for Romania, which has proved a trusted NATO partner, to know that alliance efforts are clearly channeled towards ensuring security in this region and towards clear support for new EU accession countries - for Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, and for commitments related to their security,” Ponta said.

In May, following the eruption of violence in neighbouring Ukraine, Romania urged the US and NATO to boost their military presence in Romania to ensure stability in the Black Sea region.

On a visit to Washington that month, the Romanian Foreign Minister, Titus Corlatean, stressed the importance of an enhanced, long-term US presence in the Black Sea region "to deter any other destabilising initiatives," presumably referring to Russia.

NATO-member Romania is one of the Alliance’s strongest supporters among the ex-Communist countries of Eastern Europe.

Last October, the installation of US missile interceptors began at the Deveselu military base in southern Romania.

The interceptors are to be installed at Deveselu by 2015 as part of the second phase of the US-led project to build a missile shield in Europe.

The scheme viewed with deep suspicion by Russia. The work at Deveselu has involved an estimated investment of $400 million.

Romania’s Mihail Kogalniceanu airport, near the Black Sea shore, became a major US military base in 2007, and around 1,600 troops are currently deployed there.

Romania will be represented at the NATO summit in Wales on September 4-5 by President...

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