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B9 Summit Declaration: Klaus Iohannis and the other leaders from NATO’s Eastern Flank underscore the importance of the forward presence of NATO from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea

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The Presidents of Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia adopted on Thursday at the plenary session of the B9 Summit a declaration which underscores the importance of the forward presence of NATO from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea and the concern for the situation in Ukraine.

The nine leaders from NATO’s Eastern Flank countries have gathered in Košice on Thursday in the Bucharest 9 platform for consultation and dialogue to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Alliance, as well as the 20th and 15th anniversary of the accession of our respective countries to NATO.

Also, the leaders met to reaffirm their strong commitment to collective defence, as enshrined in the Article 5 of the Washington Treaty based on solidarity, shared responsibility and the indivisibility of Allied security. Concurrently, they exchanged views on current security threats and challenges and ways how to address them.

For the last 70 years, NATO has served as the bedrock of security in the Euro-Atlantic area. (…) As we meet today, we face the most difficult security challenges in a generation. In the spirit of 360 degrees approach, the Alliance should continue to be ready to respond to all threats and challenges from wherever they arise.  (…) Today, we are better prepared to confront the current security challenges. Our countries contribute to Alliance’s adaptation. In the spirit of allied unity, solidarity and fair burden sharing, we underline the importance of NATO´s forward presence from the Baltic to the Black Sea, as well as other initiatives aimed at strengthening our ability to defend our citizens and territories as part of the allied collective effort to strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defence“, the nine presidents underlined after the meeting which was attended also by the Secretary General of NATO.

The Declaration of the Heads of State Bucharest 9 Meeting (Košice)

1. We, the Presidents of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania,  Poland, Romania and the Slovak Republic, have gathered in Košice in the Bucharest 9 platform for consultation and dialogue to:

– commemorate the 70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Alliance, as well as the 20th and 15th anniversary of the accession of our respective countries to NATO;

– reaffirm our strong commitment to collective defence, as enshrined in the Article 5 of the Washington Treaty based on solidarity, shared responsibility and the indivisibility of Allied security;

– exchange views on current security threats and challenges and ways how to address them.

We appreciate the presence of the NATO Secretary General today.

2. For the last 70 years, NATO has served as the bedrock of security in the Euro-Atlantic area. It remains the unique framework for our collective defence, transatlantic dialogue and plays irreplaceable role in protecting our values and safeguarding security of our citizens and our territories. Our membership in the Alliance created an opportunity to fulfil aspirations of our nations and provided the security and stability for economic development and well-being of our societies while advancing the vision of Europe whole, free and at peace. At the same time, our countries have been strengthening their capabilities to contribute to Allied collective defence.  

3. As we meet today, we face the most difficult security challenges in a generation. In the spirit of 360 degrees approach, the Alliance should continue to be ready to respond to all threats and challenges from wherever they arise. We have, therefore, every reason to make our Alliance stronger and to ensure that the transatlantic bond remains as solid and effective as ever. We are determined to work towards this objective, including through our commitment to spend 2% of the GDP on defence, modernising our defences and engaging in operations. We welcome and support strengthened military presence of the United States and Canada in Europe, particularly on NATO’s Eastern flank.

4. The threats and challenges we face are complex, often unpredictable and coming from all directions. No country can fully address them alone. They range from conventional and hybrid forms, including cyber, to terrorism, regional instability, irregular migration, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and threats to our energy security. We are faced with an intense use of disinformation and propaganda. Traditional lines between military and non-military warfare are fading.

5. Today, we are better prepared to confront the current security challenges. Our countries contribute to Alliance’s adaptation. In the spirit of allied unity, solidarity and fair burden sharing, we underline the importance of NATO´s forward presence from the Baltic to the Black Sea, as well as other initiatives aimed at strengthening our ability to defend our citizens and territories as part of the allied collective effort to strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defence. We also support the implementation of the strategic, focused and coherent NATO approach to the South. We acknowledge the participation in relevant NATO activities, including the mission in Afghanistan as part of the efforts towards peace and reconciliation.

6. We remain particularly concerned with the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine and recent tensions in the Azov and Black Seas stemming from the illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea and military build-up. This is another manifestation of Russia’s disregard of international law, its confrontational pattern of behaviour and use of military and also non-military actions, such as the construction of the Kerch Strait bridge, to advance its geopolitical goals. All of this calls for even more coherent and strategic approach from the Alliance. We are also gravely concerned by Russia’s material breach of the INF Treaty and failure to return to full and verifiable compliance, which led to the suspension of the Treaty and the United States’ notification of withdrawal. We continue to take necessary steps in the Alliance to ensure the credibility and effectiveness of NATO deterrence and defence posture and remain firmly committed to the preservation of effective international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.

7. We reiterate our support to NATO’s approach on Russia based on strong deterrence and defence, and openness to dialogue as agreed since Wales Summit with a view to avoiding misunderstanding, miscalculation, and unintended escalation.   

8. The anniversaries of our countries’ accession to the Alliance reminds us how crucial NATO´s Open Door Policy has been for enhancing security of its members, for peaceful reunification of Europe and for stability of the whole Euro-Atlantic area. We will continue to support further NATO enlargement in line with the Article 10 of the Washington Treaty. We welcome the recent signing of the Accession Protocol and look forward to the Republic of North Macedonia becoming the thirtieth NATO Ally.

9. We remain committed to the security and stability in the Western Balkans, an area of strategic interest to the Alliance, and will continue the political dialogue and practical cooperation with partners in this region. We also reiterate our firm support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, within their internationally recognized borders. While pursuing their respective European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations, these countries will continue to benefit as well from our support in their efforts to strengthen their resilience against any external interference. At the same time, we reiterate that progress in reforms should be based on democratic values, respect for rule of law, human rights, and full compliance with their respective international commitments and obligations.

10. We believe that stronger NATO and stronger EU are mutually reinforcing. Together they can better provide security and peace in Europe, in our neighbourhood and beyond. We are supporting an enhanced EU role in security and defence through developing initiatives in this area in full complementarity and synergy with NATO. We are determined to strengthen NATO-EU strategic partnership and cooperation.

11. We look forward to December NATO Leaders´ Meeting in London that will enable us to take stock of implementation of decisions we took in Wales, Warsaw and Brussels and advance adaptation of the Alliance to address security threats and challenges we face. We remain committed to continue meeting in the Bucharest 9, platform for dialogue and cooperation, as a means to consult each other, promote joint approaches and contribute to Euro-Atlantic security.

Robert Lupițu este redactor-șef, specialist în relații internaționale, jurnalist în afaceri europene și doctorand în domeniul reasigurării strategice a NATO. Robert este laureat al concursului ”Reporter și Blogger European” la categoria Editorial și co-autor al volumelor ”România transatlantică” și ”100 de pași pentru o cetățenie europeană activă”. Face parte din Global Shapers Community, o inițiativă World Economic Forum, și este Young Strategic Leader în cadrul inițiativelor The Aspen Institute. Din 2019, Robert este membru al programului #TT27 Leadership Academy organizat de European Political Strategy Center, think tank-ul Comisiei Europene.

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EC Communication chief warns: Disinformation is a real threat to public health during COVID-19 crisis

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Disinformation has presented itself as a real threat to public health during the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Pia Hansen, the head of the DG Communication of the European Commission, said on Wednesday.

During the conference “Communicating Europe: corona, recovery and beyond”  the director of CaleaEuropeană.ro platform, Dan Cărbunaru, asked the Director-General of DG Communication of the European Executive, regarding the European Union instruments used in the hybrid warfare, but also how the European Commission intends to act through its expertise against misinformation and to protect the citizens against fears.

Pia Hansen, as Director-General DG Communication, explained to CaleaEuropeană.ro the steps that the European executive has taken, in order to take effective measures against disinformation and mitigate the real threat to public health.


 

Dan Cărbunaru: ”As you finished your presentation, initially, talking about misinformation, I would like to ask you something about it, because each crisis that hit Europe was treated as an opportunity usually to develop new tools for providing an increased European approach in solving European citizens problems. And in the last years, we saw the pressure, we felt the pressure heavily put by the propaganda and the tools of hybrid war. And my question for you is, as we know that we have some tools; EU is stuck on the task force, for instance, do you intend does the Commission intend to protect the public’s fears, using this expertise, this kind of expertise already, let’s say tested in combat, and which is on the European Union, the major risk identified so far in terms of hybrid war in Europe.”

Pia Hansen: Thank you very much for this very important question.

”Of course indeed as you also stressed there are several actors in this at the institutional level in the European Union. You are right,  that it’s absolutely something that has grown very rapidly since the beginning of the crisis, and it has continued to spread, as we saw the crisis the coronavirus crisis, playout and indeed, it has been playing very much on people’s fears, in relation to this particular crisis and, and the increased use of social media. And it has, in the context of the coronavirus crisis, it has really even presented a real threat to public health, as well as, indeed, and that’s not new. Those who have propagated this information have taken advantage of the situation to sometimes push political agendas. As far as the action that we have been taken. We have definitely reverted also in this crisis many myths, a lot of misinformation because there’s misinformation and then there’s disinformation this deliberate malign attempt to manipulate opinion and information, but I mentioned, everything that has been circulating about the health aspects of the disease, of course, or the, the disease itself or the treatments or the vaccines I referred to it already, as well as also. And there are, indeed, some foreign actors have come in as well. When it comes to the perceived lack of EU response or perceived lack of solidarity.

Our president was very conscious of this from an early moment and asked us to have as part of this website that she asked us to create, to communicate what Europe is doing to fight the coronavirus crisis. She also asked us to have a disinformation section there.

So that we actually in all languages, and in a format that makes it very easy also to share these stories setting the record straight if you like on social media.

This is one part of the, of the strategy, it is of course to provide the stories, and the facts in a very accessible way also when it comes to the crisis but in a broader frame when it comes to dealing with this information it’s also about informing and educating the public about this disinformation itself, how it works as a phenomenon, and indeed the danger that it poses in this case both to public health, and to democracy, and this is something that this commission is also very concerned about, you will have heard our vice president Jurova also in addition to the president herself and other members of the college have been very strongly voicing their concern in this area. So, communicating actually very actively and regularly, about how you actually identify disinformation, and how a typical online user can protect himself from disinformation is also part of the response. So, without having the time to go into all the details, a very multifaceted approach is needed. Also involving working with platforms as we do and we have done for some time now, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and since this month, also Tick Tock on developing standards to maintain the online information environment clean from harmful misinformation and disinformation.

And then we have our code of practice which is actually the first of its kind of a self-regulatory effort in this area which is definitely called upon to grow even more important and ambitious as we as we go along, and we will see to which extent, it needs to be complemented with with with regulation.

We also need to fund, and that’s what we’re doing, we’re funding researchers and civil society organizations that are dedicated to studying also the phenomenon of disinformation and to finding solutions and, and fact-checking is also very independent fact-checking of course it’s not something we do, but we support it, as well as developing new technologies we will also be able to be helped by artificial intelligence in this respect, definitely. And therefore, and then also protecting elections and public information to do this.

You refer to the EEAS and it’s true that the EEAS has played a truly a crucial role in fighting disinformation as a foreign policy threat, you refer to that and that has expanded to now, including more teams that are focusing on different regions outside the EU, where this information might originate, and you will find in relation to the corona crisis, which quite comprehensive information on where we are stepping up the action, and this includes also doing more on social media in the debate and the Member States.

On the 10th of June when we published a document on how we intend to step up the action and learn the lessons, from the coronavirus crisis when it comes to disinformation. But by the end of the day, it’s also about building trust in institutions having a strong communications environment, and this support to independent media that I mentioned, in addition to because it happens, it starts with ourselves and how do we actually explain things that we know to our friends and families and how do we think about sharing social media posts that we see, this is something that all of us have to pay very much attention to. So, checking your sources and thinking before sharing I think is also the part of the reflex that everyone needs to embrace so promoting that is very important as well.”


OpenEUDebate is a Jean Monnet network of academic institutions (Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain; the National University of Political and Administrative Studies – SNSPA, Romania; Institut d’études européennes de l’Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium; The Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium and Agenda Pública, Spain.
”We intend to create a self-sustainable network of experts of varying degrees of seniority working as mediators with national communities of beneficiaries and users that will influence the public debate. The OpenEUdebate community will address two types of fragmentation: between the local-national and the European public sphere, and between specialized knowledge and public debate.”
OpenEUDebate ”will be an accessible and inclusive community where issues are debated critically with a wide range of views. It will “translate” expert knowledge (about contents and procedures) into relevant information for public debate; it will explain the terms of its politicization (above partisan lines); and will enhance the level of public deliberation about it.”
Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen sits at the meeting point of EU communications and policy. She has been Director-General of DG Communication (COMM) since March 2019 and has been overseeing the communication around the European Commission’s response to the coronavirus crisis. Previous roles have included Deputy Secretary-General of the European Commission and Chief Spokesperson of the European Commission. She holds a Master of Science in International Business Administration and Modern Languages, Copenhagen Business School, with a dissertation on European Identity.

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MEP Vasile Blaga: The place of Romania is in Europe, so in Schengen

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MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP) welcomes the European Parliament’s resolution on the Schengen area in the context of the crisis triggered by COVID-19 and stresses that “the rapid and complete restoration of free cross-border movement is necessary.”

In the statement offered exclusively for Caleaeuropeană.ro, the Romanian MEP mentioned that it is essential that the Council’s effort regarding the integration of Romania and Bulgaria in the Schengen area to be intensified.

According to the Liberal MEP, every day that passes with Romania and Bulgaria outside the Schengen area contradicts the fundamental values ​​of the EU: “The place of Romania and Bulgaria is in Europe, so in Schengen. We are Europeans, equal in rights, in solidarity, and every day that passes with Romania and Bulgaria outside the Schengen area contradicts these fundamental values ​​on the basis of which the European Union was built. ”

At the same time, Vasile Blaga reminds us that the pressures from the European Parliament, for Romania’s full integration into the European Union to become a reality, will not stop.

Last week, the European Parliament voted on a resolution calling on the Member States and the Council of the European Union to take the necessary measures to admit Bulgaria, Romania, and Croatia into the Schengen area.

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MEP Vasile Blaga welcomes the European Commission’s plan for post-pandemic economic recovery: Romania on the 6th place in Union in budget size

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MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP) welcomes the European Commission’s 750 billion euro plan for post-pandemic economic recovery: “The level of sums allocated to Romania for economic recovery shows that our place in the EU has strengthened. We are on the 6th place in the union in the size of the recovery budget after the COVID-19 crisis ”.

According to the MEP, this amount of 740 billion euros is “welcome for the recovery of the economies affected by the pandemic crisis.”

“The allocation of 750 billion EUR  is a good signal that proves that European solidarity is not just a word in the wind that feeds the chorus of Eurosceptics. We also welcome the allocation to Romania of over 30 billion euros for economic recovery, an amount that puts us in sixth place in the top of budgets allocated post-pandemic “, he added.

Vasile Blaga emphasizes that out of the total of 750 billion EUR, 33 billion euros are allocated to Romania, approximately 19 billion EUR represent non-reimbursable grants: “In the next stage it is extremely important to develop the programs that make this budget an engine of the relaunch of the Romanian economy. There are major problems in the sectors that were automatically closed during the emergency and alert period – here we must work with priority “, the MEP noted.

For Romania to have a balanced reconstruction of the economy, Vasile Blaga claims that “the money must be spent in full.”

“Romania has the chance to restart large sectors – such as infrastructure – which may themselves be the spearheads to pull the economy in the coming years,” he said.

At the same time, Vasile Blaga hopes that the plan proposed by the European Commission will be accepted, even if there are different opinions among the 27 states of the Union regarding this ambitious economic recovery plan: “I bet, however, on a unanimous political agreement, which follows to be initialed at the next European summit, which will most likely t

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