The leaders of nine Central and Eastern European countries gathered in Bucharest on Friday to call for a reinforcement of NATO's eastern flank in the face of Russian aggression in Ukraine, less than three weeks from a summit of the Alliance scheduled for the end of June in Madrid.
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“Faced with increased security risks in Romania and the Black Sea, consolidating NATO on its eastern flank (…) becomes all the more urgent and crucial”, declared Romanian President Klaus Iohannis opening the meeting, co-chaired by her Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda.
The Atlantic Alliance summit will outline "a long-term vision, through its new strategic concept, by putting collective defense and Article 5 (of its treaty, editor's note) at the heart of actions", he said. underlined, advocating “a strengthening of the posture of deterrence and defense”, to respond “to the threats generated by Russia”.
Article 5 of this treaty stipulates that if a NATO country is the victim of an armed attack, each member of the Alliance will consider this act of violence as an armed attack directed against all members and will take appropriate measures which he deems necessary to come to the assistance of the attacked country.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who had announced his participation in the Bucharest meeting, was forced to cancel it due to health problems, but had to join the debates online.
The heads of state of the nine countries represented - Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia - must also consider the impact of the Russian invasion on the security of "vulnerable partners". of the Alliance, including Moldova and Georgia.
During a telephone conversation with Mr. Duda on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden reaffirmed "the commitment of the United States to the security (...) of the eastern flank of NATO" and hoped that the meeting of Bucharest is "successful".
In 2017, NATO had already deployed multinational battle groups in the Baltic states and Poland to deter Russia, then sent reinforcements after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February.