Good morning! Let me begin by thanking Foreign Minister Comanescu for graciously hosting us today to mark this important occasion, as well as Minister Motoc, and his predecessors, for being such gracious hosts for our installation at Deveselu!
I’d also like to thank Vice Admiral James Syring, Director of the Missile Defense Agency; Vice Admiral James Foggo, 6th Fleet Commander and Commander of NATO Striking and Support Force; Mr. Robert Bell, Senior Civilian Representative of the Secretary of Defense in Europe; Mr. Steven Cade, U.S. Fleet Forces Command N8/9; and Mr. Patrick Auroy (o-wah), NATO Assistant Secretary General of Defense Investments for coming all this way to be with us.
Today we are here to celebrate an important milestone for the ballistic missile defense site at Deveselu, Romania. Our partnership on Phase II of the European Phased Adaptive Approach, the United States’ and Romania’s contribution to NATO’s missile defense, is the ideal example of why bilateral military relations between the U.S. and Romania are outstanding.
Early in President Obama’s tenure the President adapted our approach to missile defense in Europe to meet evolving threats.
In February 2010, Romania accepted the administration’s offer to host Phase II of the European Phased Adaptive Approach, and by September 2011, the United States and Romania signed our ballistic missile defense agreement, which was ratified by the Romanian parliament in December 2011.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the hard work and dedication of Romania’s primary negotiator during this process, your previous Foreign Minister, Bogdan Aurescu. Ambassador Aurescu, thank you for all your efforts on this.
In October 2013, just barely two years ago, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Jim Miller and Romanian President Traian Basescu broke ground on the site at Deveselu.
Since that time Romanian and U.S. officials have worked tirelessly to ensure that military construction on the site was completed on time. I’m happy to report that this ceremony today marks that all major military construction on the base, that is everything necessary for operating the system, is complete and functioning, and that the project came in under-budget, thanks in no small part to the excellent cooperation we received from the Government of Romania.
We now move on to the next phase of operational testing and evaluation, in preparation for its Initial Operating Capacity declaration as well as the NATO integration process.
Before concluding, I would like to take a few moments to clarify exactly what this system is intended to do, and just as importantly, what it is not.
First and foremost, this system is only meant to counter threats originating from outside Europe. As Ambassador Comanescu said, It is NOT, I repeat, NOT directed at Russia, nor does it have the capability to threaten Russia. We have explained this to Russia on numerous occasions.
We have also offered to work with Russia to help alleviate their concerns and, if they desire, to ensure the safety of all our citizens from ballistic missiles originating from outside the Euro-Atlantic sphere.
Congratulations again to our Romanian partners on this project, and to my colleagues at the Department of Defense, who worked so hard to make this project a reality. This important milestone on the path to missile defense for Europe highlights what has always been true for the greatest military Alliance the world has ever seen – when we work together in a professional and determined manner, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.