Ministers, Ambassador, Generals, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for your kind invitation.
This ceremony, which marks an important step towards the full operationalisation of the US AEGIS Ashore system hosted by Romania, is of particular significance for the Alliance.
I think most of us agree that ballistic missiles represent a special challenge. They inject an element of risk into the geopolitical landscape that is highly destabilizing.
In light of this, the decision at the NATO Lisbon Summit in 2010, to develop a capability for the protection of Europe against the growing threat of ballistic missile attacks from outside the Euro-Atlantic area, was therefore a logical one.
Only two years later, in 2012 in Chicago, we declared a missile defence “interim capability”as a significant operational first step. Today we are working hard towards an enhanced level of this capability. This will ensure significantly increased protection coverage with enhanced command and control arrangements.
We cannot talk about NATO ballistic missile defence without recognizing the significant US contribution. The Alliance also values Romania’s important role of hosting the AEGIS Ashore system in Deveselu. We are very pleased to see that this capability is developing as planned, thus reinforcing the credibility of our decisions. We decide, we declare that we decide, we implement and we deliver!
AEGIS Ashore will significantly enhance NATO’s ballistic missile defence and represents a core element for making possible our ambition to declare a new level of Operational Capability at the Warsaw Summit next year.
NATO’s planned missile defence capability will not constitute a shield protecting us against every threat all the time. But through of range of systems, NATO can complicate the calculations of potential adversaries by making them think twice before attacking or even threaten to attack.
In terms of development and deployment, this NATO BMD embodies the best transatlantic teamwork, being an excellent example of NATO’s commitment to fielding modern, state-of-the-art capabilities: the primary assets – interceptors and radar – are being provided by the United States; some Allies, like Romania, have all agreed to host elements of the system; other Allies provide additional contributions to the system.
NATO BMD is not only about sensors and interceptors, it also includes an array of political, operational and technical strands of work that are complicated and require an extensive amount of cooperation among different nations and stakeholders. The good news is that, despite these complexities, we are on a good track.
Let me also say what NATO’s missile defence capability is not. It is neither designed nor directed against Russia. And is not capable of undermining Russia’s strategic deterrence capabilities. We have made this clear to the Russian authorities many times. However, Russia has made threatening statements, especially against those Allies that are contributing to NATO BMD. Such threats are totally unjustified. They do not help to build trust or lower tensions.
As the name shows, this is a defensive system, not an offensive one. But be convinced that NATO is and remains committed to defend its members against any kind of attack.
So to conclude, missile defence will clearly be of increasing importance to the Alliance in the coming years. Although, at this stage, it is still an US system, we are looking forward to receiving AEGIS Ashore as an Allied capability, later next spring. In this note, let me thank you, once again, for your tremendous efforts towards bringing NATO BMD to a fully operational status.
L. J. De Rothschild