NATO Secretary General discusses NATO’s future in Romania

  • 07 May. 2010 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 07 May. 2010 10:39

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen visited Romania on 6 and 7 May, where he met with President Traian Basescu, Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi and other high-level Romanian officials, and gave a public address at the University of Bucharest.

Bilateral meeting with the President. From left to right: NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the President of Romania, Traian Basescu.

At a joint press conference with President Basescu on 6 May, the Secretary General thanked Romania for its contribution to the NATO-led operation in Afghanistan, saying that it is “substantial, without caveats and with a growing focus on training”.

The two also discussed NATO’s new Strategic Concept, which will be agreed by Allies at the Lisbon Summit in November, and missile defence, which will figure prominently in discussions among Allies in the coming months. “I hope that in Lisbon we will decide that missile defence is an Alliance’s mission, by combining the US and the NATO systems. That will provide an efffective coverage to our populations,” Rasmussen said.

Speaking to the press on 7 of May with Foreign Minister Baconschi, the Secretary General mentioned their discussion on NATO's open door policy and the Balkans. "We share the view that the best recipe for lasting security and stability in the Balkans is integration of all countries of the region in the euroatlantic structures, into the EU and NATO", he said.

Later in the day, Mr Rasmussen gave a public speech at the University of Bucharest, School of Law, underlining the importance of NATO’s efforts in Afghanistan, and of addressing nuclear proliferation, energy security and cyber defence.

He spoke about the “unique solidarity between North American and European democracies” that has already proved its worth, for example, during the Cold War and the Balkan conflicts. Now, he said, Alliance solidarity is helping to bring stability to Afghanistan: “Together, we will protect the population and pull the rug from under the insurgency. We will then start to transfer additional security responsabilities to the Afghan forces themselves, district by district, province by province.”

On nuclear proliferation, the Secretary General stressed that the threat of proliferation is “real and growing” with more than 30 countries having or developing missile capabilities. “In many cases, these missiles could eventually threaten our populations and territories. And several countries are seeking nuclear weapons” – a deadly combination, he said. To address this threat, he said that Allies need to maintain an appropiate nuclear deterrent.

“Furthermore, we must take a fresh look at missile defence – not as a substitute for nuclear detterence, but as a complement to it”, the Secretary General said.

Mr Rasmussen also stressed the need for a better understanding of the implications of energy security. “NATO is a unique mechanism for collecting information from different sources… We have the means to protect critical energy infrastructure. We have experience in consequence management, for example when it comes to mitigating the effects of accidents,” he noted. 

On cyber defence, the Secretary General said: “Nowhere is the need to act today rather than tomorrow more evident than in this area… In short, a cyber attack can bring a country down without a single soldier having to cross its borders.”

In closing, Mr Rasmussen spoke about the new Strategic Concept. In his view, the new Strategic Concept will reaffirm that “NATO’s core task was, continues to be and will remain territorial collective defence of our territories and populations”.

At the same time, he argued, NATO will also have to adapt to tackle the threats of the 21 century. “I am not going to prejudge the new Strategic Concept,” he said. “But I’ll make one point very clear: We cannot afford to put missile defence, energy security or cyber defence on the back burner. Because new challenges don’t wait until we feel ready to meet them.”