Video interview

with Romanian President Traian Basescu

  • 31 Jan. 2008 - 31 Jan. 2008
  • |
  • Last updated: 12 Aug. 2008 14:50

Q: Mr. President, can you tell us what it's meant for Romania to be a member of NATO since 2004?

TRAIAN BASESCU (President of Romania): Thank you very much for your invitation of having this discussion. What I can tell you is that for Romanians the accession to NATO in 2004 meant a lot.

Firstly, it meant passing from the grey zone as a former communist country and the entering into the club of the western countries. It was the first and a very important step in our democratic evolution.

Talking about democratic revolution, we must admit that the political obligations, the administrative obligations that we had prior to being invited to become NATO members meant achieving a set of common values with the States that are partners with us in NATO.

And finally, a very important for Romanians is the fact that with our accession to NATO the Romanians felt safe. Security of Romania, security of each Romanian was the basis that we built upon in our development. NATO, for us therefore meant the beginning of our road to prosperity.

Q: In April Bucharest is hosting the next NATO Summit. Can you indicate what the political significance of this is for Romania?

BASESCU: The significance is very important. Firstly, we consider that entrusting us with the organization of the NATO Summit meant a recognition on the one hand, that perhaps the most important significance is a blank cheque as regards to the confidence of the allies in Romania.

Secondly, the fact that we are organizing, that we are hosting the Summit is not only important for Romania, but also for the region. Romania is located in a challenging region. We have the Western Balkans in the south with Kosovo and Serbia; in the east the Republic of Moldova with Transnistria; northern side we have Ukraine. there are NATO borders, EU borders, that Romania needs... has to warrant on the one hand in terms of security and on the other hand Romania has the contact with that part of the world that aspires to become a part of the democratic structures of NATO, the European Union.

This is very important for all the countries in the region and this is why the countries in the region have great hopes in this Summit that is organized so close to them. They do look with hope to the Summit. Croatia, Albania, Macedonia. They have the hope of receiving the invitation to become NATO member.

This equally... countries such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, other states, have their hopes in the Summit.

Looking at our eastern border, Georgia and Ukraine have great hopes that this Summit, that is being organized in the neighbourhood, will mean an increase and has meant, of their ties with NATO.

So I would like, in a nutshell, for the region the event is very important and for Romania is on the one hand a recognition and on the other hand a blank cheque for our future within this very important organization, NATO.

Q: Talking about NATO operations, Romania's been a long-standing contributor to KFOR and Afghanistan. Can you describe your country's experiences in those operations and your expectations for the future?

BASESCU: I would like to build upon the premise that we will respect all our engagements within NATO. We will continue to action in Afghanistan where our troops are located in Zabul, in southern most challenging area, where we will continue to be a part of KFOR, we will continue to pay high attention to the Western Balkans, particularly that they are in our border. And not only that, we will maintain our contribution in the Western Balkans, but if necessary we will be able to give a positive response to the situation and an appropriate response to the situation that might occur.

And what I can tell you that is the Alliance can rely on Romania as a partner that is always ready to be a good ally for the other member states.

We will not hesitate to respond to the policy of the Alliance, because we are part of it. We are contributing to the building of this policy. And from this perspective we believe it is extremely important that Afghanistan will be a success for the Alliance.

It is mandatory that the citizens of the member states have the feeling, belief that the Alliance is able to achieve its objectives in Afghanistan.

The Alliance can rely that Romania will not be a passive member, not only be a consumer of security, but we will be able to respond, depending on the possibility of our people, of our army. We will be... we will continue to be a supplier of security because a country of our size has resources to be a supplier of security and not only a consumer.

Q: You've mentioned your neighbours several times, can you tell us what role you see NATO having in the area and your opinion of potential enlargement?

BASESCU: The top priority must remain inviting Macedonia and Albania to become NATO members in the Bucharest Summit. At the same time the perspective of future enlargement, the Bucharest Summit, the Alliance is to upgrade their ties with Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina. That will need to pass from the Partnership for Peace to upgrade this partnership. And looking remaining at the borders in the Black Sea region, Romania supports with no reservations and with many arguments the necessity to invite Georgia in the Membership Action Plan and so Ukraine they both have required, they both have bid for this.

At the same time the MAP is an instrument that allows the allies to monitor the evolution of the two states that have required to become part of the map, Georgia and Ukraine and in the moment that they will reach the standards that are required, an invitation can follow. The MAP does not necessarily mean that they will receive an invitation, unless they fulfil their obligations and they meet the standards required for being invited.

But I would like to refer particularly to Georgia here, because NATO has to be very (inaudible) here, because in January with the election of President Saakashvili on the 5th of January a referendum was organized where the five million Georgians were required to vote for the accession to NATO and here the option is clear, the option of the Georgian people is clear, and we should not avoid or disregard this option expressed by the Georgian people.

And this cannot be neglected because the NATO member states are democratic states that respect the will of the peoples.

Q: You've mentioned your region of Europe, which obviously has specific challenges, non-military and traditional challenges. There are other ones, such as energy security, missile defence and cyber attack. Can you tell us what role you see for NATO in addressing them?

BASESCU: With regards to energy it's clear that NATO does not need to overlap actions of other structures, such as the European Union, that is developing a neighbourhood policy that envisages also creating alternative solutions for energy supply for Europe.

But NATO needs to assume the political support for creating these alternatives to the energy supply for Europe, and particularly this region, NATO needs to assume the granting of the security of the infrastructure for transportation, for the maritime routes, transportation routes, of combating the asymmetric challenges because the Black Sea region is region where the trafficking of human beings from the former Soviet states to Europe, the illegal trafficking, is currently being deployed. It is a transit region for the drugs from Afghanistan to the EU market. And equally the conflict areas are being supplied with arms as a consequent of illegal tradeoffs.

So NATO has a niche that where it can act for the good of all. But I would like to be very open here and to state that we cannot disregard the importance of the Russian Federation in the region. The Russian Federation is a regional power and we need to find a way that in our actions of combating terrorism, the illegal trafficking of persons, of narcotics and armament, we need to convince the Russian Federation to be a partner.

Q: And my final question, how is the Summit seem in Bucharest and in Romania in general by the people of the country?

BASESCU: Romanians are proud to be given the opportunity to receive the most important politicians of the world, to host them, and I'm convinced that the Romanians consider the Summit as a mission that has been entrusted to them by their western partners and they would like to achieve these objectives, they would like this Summit to be a success both in terms of organization and content and results.

Q: Mr. President, thank you very much.

BASESCU: I thank you very much too.