German President Joachim Gauck talks security in Romania

German President Joachim Gauck has discussed tensions in Eastern Europe and Berlin’s policies toward Moscow with his Romanian counterpart, Klaus Iohannis. The meeting comes ahead of a NATO summit in Warsaw.

President Gauck met with Iohannis in Bucharest on Monday, opening a two-day diplomatic visit to the former Warsaw Pact member.

The two presidents discussed the security situation on the Black Sea, Iohannis said, after some NATO members had proposed basing a permanent naval force in the area.

The Black Sea is bordered by Russia and traditionally seen as part of the Russian sphere of influence, but Romania and Turkey have asked the alliance to place a fleet near their shores to offset the allegedly growing Russian presence. Bulgaria, also a NATO member, has opposed the idea.

Another major issue between Russia and Romania is neighboring Moldova, the former Soviet republic with a majority Romanian-speaking population. Moldova is locked in a frozen conflict with Russia over its breakaway region of Transnistria.

Gauck’s visit comes ahead of a major NATO summit in Warsaw in July, where the alliance is set to decide whether to boost its forces near Russia’s borders.

Under German law, presidents play a mostly symbolic role compared to the chancellor. However, the president remains the nominal head of state and a representative of Germany abroad.

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