June 21. 2024. 5:44

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‘Bucharest Nine’ leaders assured eastern flank is key for NATO

US President Joe Biden and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg assured the leaders of the Bucharest Nine countries in Warsaw on Wednesday that reinforcing NATO’s Eastern flank is among the alliance’s priorities.

Biden and Stoltenberg were invited as guests to the seventh Bucharest Nine summit, set up in 2015 at the initiative of Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and Polish President Andrzej Duda.

“NATO Allies have never been more united,” Stoltenberg insisted at the summit, reiterating that the Alliance will “protect and defend every inch of Allied territory”, based on NATO’s Article 5.

He also highlighted Russia’s “pattern of aggression over many years,” stating, “we don’t know when the war will end, but when it does, we need to ensure that history does not repeat itself.”

Biden, for his part, referred to the NATO Eastern flank as “the frontlines of our collective defence,” which “knows better than anyone what’s at stake in this conflict not just for Ukraine, but for the freedom of democracies throughout Europe and around the world.”

Those participating at the summit also adopted a joint declaration, which confirmed the joint commitment to deterrence and defence and the pledge that the allies will “support each other in case of any threat,” according to the Secretary of State and Head of the International Policy Bureau Marcin Przydacz, as quoted by public Polish Radio.

Biden’s presence at the Bucharest Nine summit “was a political act by the US of its particular solidarity with the countries that really feel threatened by Russia, which results from its geographical position,” opposition Civic Platform (PO, EPP) MEP, former Foreign and Defence Minister Radosław Sikorski told EURACTIV.pl, asked about the significance of the Wednesday’s summit for Poland’s security.

“It was also a signal to Western Europe to step up,” he added.

”If the Western European NATO countries do not feel more committed to the defence of the Alliance’s Eastern flank, new divisions for the ‘old’ and ‘new’ Europe may emerge, which we do not want to happen.”

At the same time, Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová also participated in the summit, reiterating the importance of the United States in European defence capabilities.

“This year has made us even stronger and more united. We in the East Wing countries are protected as never before. Together we have passed the test of solidarity and humanitarianism in helping Ukraine. President Biden’s presence is proof that our transatlantic cooperation is stronger than ever,” she said.

Biden’s visit to Kyiv and subsequent speech in Warsaw were unprecedented expressions of support for Ukraine, though the US remains a leader in assisting Ukraine.

Biden’s speech proved that his presidency lacks vision and strength, former Finance Minister Ivan Mikloš has said.

“Words should be followed by concrete measures, in particular, by supplying Ukraine with the weapons necessary for victory, especially tanks, modern fighter jets and long-range missiles, which would enable Ukraine to win as soon as possible and to push the Russians beyond Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders,” Mikloš added.

(Aleksandra Krzysztoszek, Michal Hudec | EURACTIV.pl, EURACTIV.sk)