AP

In Romania, French, Dutch FMs sign agreement to boost ties

Jan 26, 2023, 12:35 PM | Updated: Jan 27, 2023, 9:36 am

French and Dutch Foreign Ministers Catherine Colonna, right, and Wopke Hoekstra, left, speak to Rom...

French and Dutch Foreign Ministers Catherine Colonna, right, and Wopke Hoekstra, left, speak to Romanian counterpart Bogdan Aurescu after signing the Bucharest Declaration on Foreign and Security cooperation between Romania, the French Republic and the Netherlands, at the Romanian foreign ministry in Bucharest, Romania, Friday, Jan. 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

(AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — The foreign ministers of France and the Netherlands visited a NATO battlegroup at a base in Romania Friday and later agreed to bolster their ties amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Catherine Colonna of France and Wopke Hoekstra of the Netherlands visited the military base in Cincu, central Romania, along with their Romanian counterpart, Bogdan Aurescu. France and the Netherlands both have troops in the battlegroup, which was strengthened in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Romania’s neighbor.

Hoekstra told troops they play a key role in “keeping this continent and our territory safe.”

“Russia is waging war in a way we haven’t seen in decades, and therefore we cannot let our guard down — we need to step up our efforts,” Hoekstra said.

In the afternoon, the three ministers held talks in Romania’s capital, Bucharest, where they signed an agreement to strengthen ties between the three NATO member nations.

Hoekstra, who also held talks with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Friday, called for “heavier sanctions on those responsible for facilitating the Russian war effort.”

Colonna said France will support Ukraine for “as long as needed” and slammed Moscow for striking civilian targets “with the stated criminal aim of turning winter into a weapon of war.”

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February, NATO bolstered its presence on Europe’s eastern flank, including by sending additional multinational battlegroups to alliance members Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Slovakia.

The ministers also discussed Romania’s ongoing efforts to join the so-called Schengen Area, Europe’s ID-check-free travel zone, after being blocked from joining last month, and developments in Moldova, which has been impacted in a multitude of ways since Moscow launched its war against Ukraine, Moldova’s neighbor.

Earlier this week, around 600 French soldiers held a combat exercise in the eastern Romanian town of Smardan to test the 30-nation military alliance’s readiness on its eastern flank. The drill involved some 200 military vehicles, including four French Leclerc battle tanks that practiced firing live ammunition.

Romania’s defense ministry said the main purpose of that exercise was to train the battlegroup “on the rapid deployment capability and execution of a combat mission” within a collective NATO defense operation.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Image:The New York Giants' Willie Mays poses for a photo during baseball spring training in 1972. M...

Associated Press

Willie Mays, Giants’ electrifying ‘Say Hey Kid,’ dies at 93

Willie Mays, whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest players, has died. He was 93.

1 day ago

Image: This photo provided by the Washington Department of Ecology shows a derailed BNSF train on t...

Associated Press

Judge orders BNSF to pay Washington tribe nearly $400M for trespassing with oil trains

BNSF Railway must pay the sum to a Native American tribe in Washington after it ran 100-car trains with crude oil on the tribe's reservation.

2 days ago

Photo: In this photo provided by Tieanna Joseph Cade, an amusement park ride is shown stuck with 30...

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people after they were stuck dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park.

2 days ago

juneteenth shooting texas...

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 wounded in shooting during a Juneteenth celebration in a Texas park

A shooting in a Texas park left two people dead and six wounded, including two children, on Saturday, authorities said.

3 days ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

4 days ago

Juanita Beach Kirkland...

Kathy McCormack and Nick Perry, The Associated Press

‘Tis the season for swimming and bacteria alerts in lakes, rivers

With summer about to start, many people flocking to their favorite swimming holes may also want to read up on bacteria warnings.

5 days ago

In Romania, French, Dutch FMs sign agreement to boost ties