Joint press point

with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the President of Romania, Traian Băsescu

  • 30 Jan. 2012
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  • Last updated: 30 Jan. 2012 18:19

OANA LUNGESCU (NATO Spokesperson): Good afternoon. The Secretary General and the President of Romania have just concluded their bilateral meeting. They'll have short statements and then we'll have time for just a few questions.

Secretary General.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN (Secretary General of NATO): Thank you very much. Mr. President, it is, indeed a great pleasure to welcome you again here at NATO Headquarters just a few months away from our Summit in Chicago.

Romania is a staunch Ally. You have provided valuable contributions to our operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo and in protecting the people of Libya. Your solidarity and commitment are even more valuable in these difficult economic times, because Romania knows that our security is priceless.

This is an important year for NATO and I discussed with the President our preparations for the Chicago Summit, where Romania can continue to play an important role.

We must shape an Alliance capable to face today's challenges, while providing tomorrow's security. While we may not be able to spend more on defence, we must spend better and we must spend together and that is what we call "smart defence."

Romania is already part of several such projects. You will host elements of the NATO missile defence system. This is an excellent example of smart defence, where many Allies provide different assets for a critical capability. It will protect two continents against a major and growing threat. And in Chicago we hope to announce the interim capability for our missile defence system.

In Chicago we will also make clear our enduring commitment to Afghanistan, which remains our top operational priority. Afghanistan is moving in the right direction. Transition to Afghan security lead is on schedule and is making steady progress.

As transition proceeds we will be able to shift our role from combat to training, assistance and advice to the Afghan Forces. We will also continue to count on Romania for building strong relationships with our partners, especially in the Western Balkans, but also to NATO's east. These are regions where Romania is fully committed.

We all agree that Euro-Atlantic integration is the best way to spread security and stability, our open door policy is clear, and Romania has an important role to play in this historic project.

Mr. President, once again, thank you for Romania's strong commitment, your strong contribution and for your personal commitment to our Alliance. I know that I can count on your support as we look forward to our next Summit in Chicago.

TRAIAN BĂSESCU (President of Romania): Thank you very much, Secretary General. I will use Romanian language for the... (SPEAKING IN ROMANIAN)...

OANA LUNGESCU: We have very little time, so please stick to one question and introduce yourself. Radio Romania.

Q: (Inaudible...)... Radio Romania. I have one question for the Secretary General. (Inaudible...) combat troops from Afghanistan. How do you see the transition strategy? Do you intend, or do you think there are necessary any changes?

And a question for the President... (SPEAKING IN ROMANIAN)...






ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: First, let me stress that we stick to the road map that was outlined at the NATO Summit in Lisbon in November 2010, according to which we will gradually hand over lead responsibility to the Afghans; a process that has been started and hopefully will be completed by the end of 2014.

There is nothing new in the fact that from mid-2013 there will be a gradual change of the role of our forces in Afghanistan. The fact is that by mid-2013 we will start the final transition of provinces and districts to lead Afghan responsibility. So from that time on the whole of Afghanistan will have Afghan Security Forces in the lead of security. And from that time on we can gradually change the role of our forces from combat to support.

The pace and the scope of that transformation of our forces will, of course, very much depend on the security situation on the ground. The better the security the stronger the Afghan Security Forces the more rapidly we can transform the role of our forces.

So all that will take place within the road map we outlined in Lisbon in 2010.


OANA LUNGESCU: I'm afraid that's all we have time for. Thank you.