“France will never let its allies and friends down, and it is ready to contribute troops and military equipment to Romania’s security,” French Defense Minister Florence Parly said in Bucharest on Thursday after a meeting with his Romanian counterpart, Vasile Dincu.
At their joint press conference, Parly assessed the situation in NATO’s Eastern European region as “worrying” and stated that Romania has a right to strengthen its own security in the face of tensions in Ukraine. As a strategic partner, France wants to support this and, as French President Emmanuel Macron announced last week, is ready to take part in further “advanced enhanced presence” NATO missions to strengthen the security of its European allies, notably Romania, if NATO decides to organize such missions, Parly explained.
“France has had a strategic partnership with Romania since 2008, but their history of cooperation and friendship is much older,” the French minister recalled. “For example, General Henri Berthelot played a key role in modernizing the Romanian army a century ago.”
Parly recalled that the French Air Force and Navy had previously been regularly involved in military exercises in Romania, and indicated that the French defense industry stood ready to help start another era in the modernization of the Romanian army, especially as regards the corvettes to be procured by the Romanian navy.
At the same time, the French defense minister welcomed the decision in Bucharest that Romania would send 50 troops to the Takuba mission in support of the Malian army.
Romanian Defense Minister Vasile Dincu also confirmed the readiness of the Romanian side to conclude a contract for the acquisition of French warships as soon as possible, which is “urged” by the geostrategic situation, but also by deepening the partnership between the two countries.
Dincu welcomed last week’s announcements by both the United States and France who indicated that they were ready to step up NATO’s defense and deterrence in the Black Sea region in the name of Euro-Atlantic solidarity. Bucharest also appreciates that its allies have unanimously rejected Moscow’s demand to withdraw NATO troops from Eastern Europe.
In Romania, the press first reported in 2016 that a significant portion of the increased budget of the Ministry of Defense would be spent on modernizing the navy. The announcement at the time also said that Bucharest had bought four corvettes to be manufactured at the Galaţi shipyard in Romania by the Dutch Damen Group for €1.6 billion.
That deal was eventually scrapped and a new tender procedure was later launched for the four new multi-functional warships, which was won by a a consortium of the French Naval Group and Constanta Shipyard for €1.2 billion, but signing the contract has been delayed by lawsuits filed by the losing Dutch company.