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Interview with Mihnea Motoc / Germany participates in the multinational force with staff officers * Axis with London and Washington after Brexit * 2017 – system of volunteer reservists
de Cristian Grosu 4.10.2016
An area that does not feels – thank God – the electoral politics. In an interview for cursdeguvernare.ro, Defense Minister Mihnea Motoc speaks about the implementation against the clock of the decisions taken by NATO at the summit in Warsaw on securing the eastern flank after the annexation of Crimea to Russia in a political and military context in full transformation:
how and with whom the multinational brigade will be constituted in Romania * how the allies’ defense configuration will be in Romania * what “European single army” means and what Romania has to do with this equation * about the groups of volunteers who will enter the system starting 2017.
Of these, extensively:
We must maintain political attention on the eastern flank, at a time when the international context is changing
cursdeguvernare.ro: Mr. Minister, we are in the middle of the implementation of the Warsaw summit’s decisions. Now, two and a half months later, is there a draft structure configured of the multinational brigade?
Mihnea Motoc: First, we are in a period at least as important as that which led to major decisions, prominent at the summit in Warsaw and the period which prepared this summit; we are in a period when we have two commands:
First, we have to maintain political attention, the focus on the full spectrum of threats and risks facing the Alliance. That does not go without saying, as priorities on the international agenda are changing, alternating with a speed higher than in other periods.
And secondly, implementation is a phase and a challenge at least as important as the preparation and the consensus on the decisions taken at Warsaw.
cursdeguvernare.ro: Can changes in the international context and the speed with which environment is changing significantly influence decisions from Warsaw and the manner in which they will be implemented?
Mihnea Motoc: We are particularly concerned about maintaining both the consensus and political attention to the need of strengthening the deterrence and defense allied posture on the eastern flank.
This consensus existed and was fully expressed in the decisions from Warsaw when international attention, including ours also focuses on other areas and things playing important roles – the fight against the Islamic State, for instance.
It is important to see on one hand that the security situation on the eastern flank remains volatile and on the other hand that we cannot think anymore the security frameworks in regional or regionalized terms, because they overlap and influence each other in a more obvious way than before.
cursdeguvernare.ro: Would this be a novelty arising after Warsaw? Or is it a matter which comes from the past and anticipated?
Mihnea Motoc: The existence of these connections between various security frameworks is now stronger and easier to see.
So it is extremely important to keep our focus on the implementation calendar of the measures from Warsaw; they are political decisions as we have wanted for Romania, with a different degree of becoming tangible.
To give an example – regarding the security arrangement proposed by Romania and approved by the allies at the summit in Warsaw for our area, the southeast of the eastern flank or the Black Sea, we still have to work on the development of the so-called maritime and aviation component of the advanced allied presence at the Black Sea.
Multinational Brigade: Germany will participate with staff officers
cursdeguvernare.ro: How does the implementation in terms of land progress? – to return to the multinational brigade’s componence
Mihnea Motoc: In terms of land, there is a sufficient basis in the decisions of the Warsaw Summit to launch the construction already. We started interinstitutional implementation and organization at national level in just the second day after the summit; over the summer we also worked constantly.
On the land component, we identified very quickly the support brigade, a Romanian brigade – the support brigade, meaning the brigade underpinning a new entity.
cursdeguvernare.ro: How many soldiers will it contain – or it’s not the kind of figures made public?
Mihnea Motoc: We may give some representative figures, but they evolve; the brigade we identified is not only very well prepared, very modern equipped, not only is NATO certified, but is also well framed.
At this time, we are talking about over 3,000 troops.
cursdeguvernare.ro: How “multinational” will it be? Will Poland and Bulgaria also participate? What about other states?
Mihnea Motoc: There is a certain difference between the terrestrial security arrangements in the Baltic region – in this region there are developed what we call battle groups under a nation- frame, an allied nation.
In terms of advanced allied presence for the south area, which is called adapted advanced allied presence, territorially, it is about a multinational brigade.
We refer to the support brigade, the foundation from which we start this construction. From here, and this is one of the two stakes of the current stage of implementation, comes the real multinational characteristic provided to this brigade.
cursdeguvernare.ro: With what states do we discuss, with whom we negotiate?
Mihnea Motoc: You know very well that I informed the public about, on one hand, Romania and Poland to mutually employ each a company. We have already identified this company that we designate to enter the battle group in Poland, which works under the US as framework-nation.
Accordingly, a Polish company is employed for the multinational brigade in Romania.
We have a commitment for up to 400 troops offered and reconfirmed by Bulgaria.
cursdeguvernare.ro: Hopes were leading towards Western countries, Germany, France. Is that a real hope?
Mihnea Motoc: As a novelty, I would inform you that we have already obtained a commitment from Germany to participation, at least for the beginning, with staff officers in the multinational brigade.
Cursdeguvernare.ro: The number?
Mihnea Motoc: I open a parenthesis – there are several forms that other allies can participate in the multinational brigade, several forms of ensuring the multinational characteristic, from staff officers, through unit affiliation, which mean that those units are not part of the brigade, but participate in regular exercise with the brigade and, if necessary, subject of a political decision, can join a common effort – affiliation and participation itself, with units in different structuring, participation within the brigade.
US will contribute a battalion – we wait for the budget procedures in Congress
Cursdeguvernare.ro: For us, what nation would be the framework nation, if the US is for Poland?
Mihnea Motoc: We do not use the framework nation concept. USA is framework nation in Poland, but here we do not use this concept; obviously, as the framework entity is Romanian, a similar role to a framework nation would go to Romania.
I would add one thing here that is sometimes overlooked, namely that there will certainly be an important American contribution.
USA took the strategic decision to come up with an additional brigade to strengthen the European security.
Cursdeguvernare.ro: Within a timeframe, when will this materialize?
Mihnea Motoc: Starting the next year. This brigade will involve, with the highest probability, the deployment of battalions that will be part of the allied effort made in the Baltic region and also in Romania and Bulgaria. This was stated explicitly.
Cursdeguvernare.ro: This is a permanent presence? How will it work exactly?
Mihnea Motoc: It is not permanent presence.
It is a regular presence, persistent, quasi-permanent. It is a modern defense concept, with which NATO operates, meaning that you do not need to have a massive presence in numbers and equipment in a certain part of the Euro-Atlantic area, it needs to have periodical presence, interoperability, participation in exercises and the possibility that needed reinforcements to move to military formation in a short time, in an interoperable manner.
There will certainly be a component of this additional brigade, one American mechanized brigade, a component that will be involved in the effort to strengthen deterrence and defense posture on land in Romania.
What is still not definitively clarified is whether this unit, probably of a battalion dimension, will be organic part of the brigade itself or, more likely, participate in exercises, meaning it will work with this brigade, without being part of it.
It is a contribution that we should consider notable and keep it in mind as a certainty.
What remains to be fulfilled. There is a wide degree of acceptance in the US Congress regarding this additional US investment in the European security; there is no refraining, the issue is that in terms of budgetary procedures this is part of a wider package on which further negotiations are underway. When the budget decision is taken, we can speak more precisely and openly about the American contribution.
Beyond the contributions we have referred to, we are in an advanced stage of agreements with several other allies who are still examining the optimum option to participate, to join this multinational brigade.
We want a genuine multi- nationality, not a Romanian brigade to be just painted with other allied colors
Cursdeguvernare.ro: Could you give some examples of states with which we discuss or negotiate?
Mihnea Motoc: Not before they become reality. Everything we have talked about so far are certain things, reconfirmed.
Otherwise, we are having discussions with allies who are supposed to make an effort to mobilize contributions also towards our multinational brigade, but have a good understanding of the strategic reasoning behind and the political reasoning for which a multinational brigade is an important thing. We shall announce them in due course.
We are working somewhat against the clock, as the multinational brigade should have initial operational capability next year, so many things are to be built.
On the other hand, the second issue regarding the multinational brigade goes beyond ensuring the authentic multi- nationality – not just a Romanian brigade painted with other allied colors, but actually a multinational brigade – to the second important component that reinforces the first one, the idea to align this brigade and its activities to a real NATO planning process.
Cursdeguvernare.ro: Out of Deveselu, which is a permanent and assumed NATO presence and one of the Warsaw achievements, what would be the general undertaken, implemented and, if possible, consolidated draft, at the end of the implementation process?
Mihnea Motoc: The brigade we were talking about, an intensive training concept in allied format is our version, a similar concept that exists in the Baltic region as well.
Aside from these entities that we build, there is a training framework – exercises made within the land, sea and air component to finally have, through this concept, a unitary reason.
The other two are the allied sea and air components of the advanced allied presence in the Black Sea, subject to a political decision of the NATO Summit in Warsaw, but remain to become reality at …
Cursdeguvernare.ro: They are set rather as principle …
Mihnea Motoc: Yes, they were explicitly included as a principle and the elements of their materiality will be decided, most likely at the level of defense ministers.
cursdeguevrnare.ro: Defense ministers from where? Countries from the Black Sea?
Mihnea Motoc: NATO countries.
Once you have a decision of principle, allied countries are required to prepare an analysis and recommendations on the implementation, after which things move to the politico-military level, politico-military recommendations are made and normally approved by the defense ministers. We have a meeting in late October, a next one in February 2017 and the expectation is that some elements of materiality to appear, especially on the maritime component.
It is hard to imagine a NATO Black Sea fleet under the terms of the Montreaux Convention; it is a center of intensified exercises
cursdeguevernare.ro: That was the big problem at a time with the fleet, the confusion in the discussion with the Bulgarian partners. Do you think that by next spring, there may be some practical things occurring regarding the naval capabilities?
Mihnea Motoc: Of course.
I would like though to specify once again, that no one has officially used the term “NATO Black Sea fleet.” President stated it very clearly, I said it myself several times.
We must ask ourselves what it would mean a NATO Black Sea fleet, given the restrictions imposed by the Montreux Convention on other allies’ permanent presence in such a formation at the Black Sea.
It is quite hard to imagine a NATO Black Sea fleet in the first place.
Secondly, this is not what we wanted. We wanted a framework of intensified training and exercises at the Black Sea. An allied maritime framework.
That means structuring and strengthening the practices that we have been following for some years, along with the sea capabilities of the other allied riparian states (Turkey and Bulgaria), the vessels of non-riparian allies who can enter the Black Sea for a while, and respectively with the permanent NATO naval groups, under the same regime of temporary access to the Black Sea waters.
We systematically made exercises on the maritime component. We want to get this practice in a more systematic framework and connect it to the maritime exercise program, the specialized maritime command of NATO, MARCOM, UK.
Everything has a defensive nature, in accordance with the international law, therefore getting to a consensus should be possible on the implementation of this sea component.
There were some political discussions that increased difficulty in implementing these concepts, but the process goes on; there will be recommendations that will be presented in the first instance by the military allied authorities; they will be presented to us as defense ministers, and we will approve, probably in at least two stages, the various elements of this sea allied framework.
cursdeguvernare.ro: The airspace component?
Mihnea Motoc: It essentially means meeting a set of airspace allied capabilities which, based on the capabilities available to allies, makes the transition easier from the air police service, which we can provide by our own, to the air defense mission.
It is perhaps the most important objective of this airspace component of the advanced allied presence, decided at Warsaw.
So we have four components in the deterrence and defense formation conceived and approved at the Warsaw summit for the south of the eastern flank, our area of relevance; I want to emphasize that it is not only about decisions involving us, so Romania is not only a topic for decisions, but decisions are promoted and largely based on Romanian proposals and concepts.
The idea of a European army is a future projection; now a common security policy deepens
cursdeguvernare.ro: Negotiations with various countries for the multinational brigade are in some way influenced by the manner in which Romania supports the idea of a single European army?
Mihnea Motoc: This is a correlation that I have not made. They are not actual negotiations, but discussions based on the idea of .
For Romania, the idea of allied solidarity is not just a rhetorically statement. We not only understand the risk to us all of the threats from the south – of what is generically called threat from the south- but we also agreed to contribute to neutralize them. Let’s not forget that the mission in Afghanistan is a NATO mission, run also in the southern region, with a component of constraining the terrorism proliferation.
If NATO will find other roles as an organization to counteract the threats from the south, we are open to see, within our possibilities, the extent to which we can contribute in a tangible way.
We expect at our turn, in the talks with the other allies, that they will take into consideration, in the most thoughtful manner, their participation in the formation that we designed.
cursdeguvernare.ro: I was specifically referring to the Franco-German proposal for a single European army and to what extent the fact that Romania has announced its support for such an idea might help us to attract more states for the multinational brigade?
Mihnea Motoc: Yes, maybe we can look to things from this perspective as well.
The fact that we expressed our openness towards the idea of strengthening the European security and defense policy, especially post-Brexit, has deeper, not circumstantial resorts, as far as we are concerned.
I would like though to express a terminological caution regarding the term “European army”. The notion of army is traditionally, including today, associated with the idea of a state.
The idea of European army is therefore a future projection, which is examined and it was one of the dominant elements of the informal meeting of the EU defense ministers in Bratislava, at the beginning of this week. It is about the development and deepening of the European security and defense policy and the rapid completion of a comprehensive plan to implement the global strategy.
cursdeguevrnare.ro: About the tangible elements of such a plan – how do such elements set up now, after Bratislava? When will you have an insight on the strategy on short, medium, long term, etc?
Mihnea Motoc: I saw on your website a summary of the views expressed in Bratislava …
Just as intelligence services pay special attention and extensively rely on what they call open sources, I can confirm that the big picture that you have presented on cursdeguvernare has quite a high accuracy.
cursdeguvernare.ro: You were there. I thought you will come and give us a novelty.
Mihnea Motoc: It is a unique moment in the recent times when we can move forward in building this area of the European defense and security. It is not the first time when such ideas are repeated, but from many people’s perspective it is an opportune moment to be capitalized on and we need to quickly build on it.
It is crucial to avoid a competition with NATO and avoid overlapping
Cursdeguvernare.ro: One point at Bratislava was about what would be called defense unified command, according to the Franco-German approach. What would that mean and how would it work?
Mihnea Motoc: There have been difficulties so far including for getting to an agreement on an element of the general staff to coordinate PSAC’s operations and missions, namely the Common Security and Defense Policy, missions which in their vast majority are carried out on the African continent.
There was no agreement even on such element of general staff.
To give you an example, we could agree with such element of coordination given that it is about coordinating EU autonomous operation in areas where NATO does not act.
cursdeguvernare.ro: Like what?
Mihnea Motoc: For instance, NATO has no missions in Africa.
As for now they are ideas under debate, we will see them a little clearer next month; questionnaires are circulated about which of the ideas can meet, if not consensus, at least a majority support.
What is important from our point of view and other EU Member States – and I would include us in a balanced class positions – is to avoid unwanted competition with NATO, overlapping with NATO.
cursdeguvernare.ro: Is there any kind of sensitivity that a country like Romania should manage, between the unified defense command and NATO or the partnership with the United States? Are there certain sensitivities that force us to be more careful in making steps?
Mihnea Motoc: Neither NATO, nor the USA have shown disagreement towards the Europeans’ efforts to strengthen the European security, the European defense capabilities. General Secretary Stoltenberg stated it very clearly in Bratislava, and we cannot and do not think otherwise.
As long as we avoid overlapping and the objectives and commitments we have assumed as allies within NATO are not affected, raising the profile of the European security and defense policy and interests regarding the strengthening of the European defense industry and its technological and development base are welcome.
It is obvious that given the current economic context, most of the Europeans cannot reach to the level of capabilities needed in the security environment in which we live – we do not allocate enough amount of GDP on defense and we will not do so for quite a while; if we do allocate, there is not sufficient amount for equipment. Romania meets both parameters, but anyway, it is desirable to strengthen the European contribution to the security of our continent. This is what the United States is waiting for and cannot happen unless combining the efforts and capabilities.
Once this principle stated, we certainly should take a look at details; for us it is very important that any development in this direction to be made taking into account the interests and specificities of each Member State and its defense industry.
For a country like Romania, it is very important in this equation to give adequate opportunities for the SMEs active in the defense industry. Moreover, we have such small-sized businesses, recently created, which are highly performant and address niche areas. They are industries of the future, IT applied in the military area, communications equipment, for example, which are doing well also in Brussels.
cursdeguvernare.ro: Why do you think there is such a vehemence in the Baltic states’ position on the draft of the European common defense?
Mihnea Motoc: I would not look at the reasons behind the position of a state or a group of states. These are preliminary positions. I am confident that, so far as we give necessary explanations and assurances, a broader support can exist.
As a matter of principle explanation, I would point out that there are obviously sensitivities much higher in this area, even in the foreign policy, and the security and defense policy, which are areas of intergovernmental cooperation, not subject of a common policy. They are still within the jurisdiction of states and therefore any approach at EU level is not simple.
On the other hand, the reasons for making such attempts are of interest to us all. As I said, no one can, with few exceptions, cover the security needs by her own, ensure the combat equipment, the increasingly sophisticated and expensive capabilities of the moment.
Brexit and Bucharest – London – Washington Axis: British commitment continues
cursdeguvernare.ro: Twelve years ago, the formula Bucharest – London – Washington Axis was publicly launched in Romania.
What are the Brexit’s nuances for Romania in the light of this axis or this formulation? I ask you given that you were also ambassador to London.
Mihnea Motoc: You ask me to approach a foreign policy discussion which is anyway complicated and less appropriate in my current position.
What I can say is that British commitment in the defense field, both in the context of NATO and bilaterally, is re-confirmed, reassured; there is no question of change other than possibly seeing an extra British political investment in NATO, if something like that is possible. Following recent dialogues with British counterpart, also in Bratislava, we receive reconfirmations of all the things agreed on the cooperation in the defense field.
In the European Union context, there would be of course some implications, even regarding the Britain’s separation, which I would not hurry to talk about, since even once Brexit materializes, the result remains to become formal. Even if it happens, that does not mean that the relationship between Britain and the EU 27 will not be a close one, including this aspect.
Think only of the fact that many of the leading multinational companies from the European defense industry have a British component.
How the volunteer reservist system will function in Romania. In 2017, it is hoped for the participation of 2,700 young people
cursdeguvernare.ro: Lately, there is a more serious concern from several countries to diversify their defense troops. Sweden announced days ago that it will reintroduce the compulsory military service in 2018, Poland started creating that paramilitary structure of 35,000 people. Here, in Romania, you talked about the parallel wing of volunteers who could be formed by the young people who want to involve.
Mihnea Motoc: I would not like to comment on the specific circumstances of certain European countries’ decisions, some of them NATO members, others, like Sweden, non-member partners of NATO, to reintroduce compulsory military service as such or in certain adapted forms.
Our analysis is that, on one hand, it is imperative to fill the void created by the interruption of the compulsory military service (in our case, the service is interrupted, not abolished).
We have of course the military reserve, but what we considered necessary, sufficient and appropriate for this moment is the introduction of the volunteer reservist system.
In this view, a law was adopted which will come into force on 1 January 2017.
At the moment of our discussion, we are close to completing the methodological norms for this law. We want that January 1 to find us with these norms adopted and a clear concept regarding the implementation of this system.
It is about the voluntary training and basically attracting both citizens with earlier military training, namely those who were in the army or caught the compulsory military service and are still willing and able to refresh their military training and people who have no military background but are willing to try this system.
cursdeguvernare.ro: Why would they do it? What is the form to attract them?
Mihnea Motoc: I am still convinced that there is motivation in values, principles, but we also have a financial component, an incentive, namely that during the training, we pay the amount equal to their income.
The employer’s support exists, meaning that it agrees, as it happen in other countries, for the person to participate in these types of training.
It would be about an initial training period of three to four months, followed by annual convocations, for shorter time, more concentrated.
Another direction of thought on which we focused at the moment is whether to consider people who already have military training or young people who have never caught the compulsory military service and the preferred option so far is the second category.
Even if they have not acquired the military reflex, they are civilians trained in areas that would allow them to more easily connect with the type of procedures and technology that we currently operate with.
The figure that we consider for the beginning, for 2017, is somewhere around 2,700 reservist volunteers.
cursdeguvernare.ro: Is there any intent to increase the figure or stop somewhere around 5000-7000?
Mihnea Motoc: There is a permanent connection with at least three factors: the extent to which we can integrate them in the event of mobilization within a unit (this is a functional reason), the second – the resources that we can count on, available for that; I want to inform you that the figures that we have put forward as possible for the beginning could be covered by the budget, and three – obviously, the evolution of the security environment.
Depending on that, we are flexible and adapt by walking.
cursdeguvernare.ro: What do you expect in terms of budget allocation for the 2017 draft, as percentage?
Mihnea Motoc: The objective that I could not restrain myself to promote is to reach 2% of GDP, starting with the 2017 budget and going for at least a decade further from 2017.
These are the terms of the political agreement reached with the participation of the parliamentary parties, which was established in 2015 following the President’s initiative.
Of course, this is also a commitment made to NATO, but beyond these two reasons, there is a real need to strengthen the defense capacity of the country.
There are no additional amounts with which we do not know what to do or take them in other directions than the military equipment. Any additional budgetary resource would go toward equipment and targeted acquisitions. For each military category, we consider those strategic capabilities likely to make the difference.
We do not improvise, these are needs for equipping the army planned in advance in the Armata 2027 program, approved by CSAT.