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Remarks by Under Secretary for Defense Policy Dr. James Miller at the Deveselu Groundbreaking Ceremony

October 28, 2013
Under Secretary for Defense Policy, Dr. James Miller, center, delivers remarks at the Deveselu Groundbreaking Ceremony, October 28, 2013 (Photo: U.S. Embassy Bucharest, Romania)

Under Secretary for Defense Policy, Dr. James Miller, center, delivers remarks at the Deveselu Groundbreaking Ceremony, October 28, 2013 (Photo: U.S. Embassy Bucharest, Romania)

Thank you President Basescu and Minister Dusa for your remarks and for hosting us today.

I also want to thank my good friend NATO Deputy Secretary General Sandy Vershbow for being here today.

Today, we are breaking ground both literally and metaphorically. The construction that this ceremony will kick off marks the beginning of a new stage in U.S.-Romanian relations and for the NATO Alliance.

It took a lot of hard work to get where we are today.

Congratulations to all of you who have helped in this important endeavor. Your tireless commitment and active contributions have made today’s event possible.

This event also represents a great achievement for Romania – one of which you should all be very proud.

Since joining NATO in 2004 and the European Union in 2007, Romania has steadfastly pursued democratization, European and transatlantic integration, and defense modernization.

Your contribution to EPAA is just one example of the many deep contributions that Romania is making to European security and globally.

Romania has evolved into one of our most reliable and steadfast partners. Not only are you a strong transatlantic partner to the United States, Romania is a dependable security contributor to NATO, as shown by its recent purchase of F-16s a cornerstone partner in international missions, such as ISAF, and increasingly, a country that can “export” security around the world. Today’s celebration is also a reflection of the strong, enduring strategic partnership that Romania has with the United States.

We see great potential in further building this relationship. The United States looks forward to working closely with Romania to identify new ways for our two countries to collaborate, including the potential for a regional F-16 cooperation program.

Today marks a milestone in Romania’s relationship with NATO and a critical point for the Alliance itself. Since the end of the Cold War, the success of NATO has been symbolized NATO’s enlargement to include Romania and other new democracies of Central Europe.

As the Alliance has entered new times, it has also addressed new threats. One of these is the threat of ballistic missile attack.

Four years ago, in September 2009, President Obama directed the Department of Defense to put increased emphasis on addressing the rapidly developing regional ballistic missile threats to our Allies and deployed troops in Europe.

The answer we developed was the European Phased Adaptive Approach, or EPAA, which is the U.S. contribution to NATO’s missile-defense mission.

When Phase 2 of EPAA is completed here in the 2015 timeframe, Europe will be safer, U.S. forces will be better protected, and the NATO Alliance will be stronger. Moreover, our efforts here in Romania serve as a precursor for the Phase 3 site in Poland.

And I look forward to a groundbreaking at the Phase 3 site in the not-so-distant future. Our commitment to EPAA is ironclad and I look forward to seeing the completion of the system in the coming years.

Let me conclude by thanking all those who contributed to making this day possible. I believe the excellent defense relationship between the United States and Romania over many years has helped bring us to this important milestone.

Secretary Hagel and all of us in the Department of Defense appreciate the great work of the Romanian Ministry of National Defense.

I would also like to thank my colleagues at the Department of Defense, including the Missile Defense Agency and the European Command. I also want to recognize the efforts of the State Department, especially my good friend Frank Rose. And the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for setting the foundation block of this agreement in place.

Finally, the hard work of NATO itself has been important to the success of this effort. I would also like to thank Turkey and Spain for hosting key elements of the NATO missile defense program.

What we are initiating here today is a powerful and tangible manifestation of our solemn commitment to mutual security in Europe. That commitment is the bedrock of the NATO alliance and it is the basis of a strong and growing U.S.-Romanian relationship. Thank you all for being here today for this important ceremony.