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On the road to the Bucharest Summit

Romanian President Traian Băsescu outlines what he hopes this year’s NATO Summit can achieve.

This year Romania will have the honor of hosting NATO’s Bucharest Summit.

The event will happen in a time and place full of symbolism. Since the creation of the Partnership for Peace, 14 years ago, NATO has added ten new members. The Alliance has forged a culture of cooperation, advised on defence reforms and developed political dialogue. In doing so, it has also respected the interests and needs of its Partners from the Balkans to Eastern Europe and across the Black Sea towards the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Enlargement has been a successful and visionary endeavour. NATO members have enhanced their security by extending it to other states sharing common values. The Alliance has also developed a wide network of partnerships that allows us to better protect and promote these values. Through integration and partnership, NATO has helped unify Europe around freedom, stability and democracy.

In the East, the Black Sea region is part of this promotion of democracy and stability throughout Europe. This region, which sits at the crossroads of Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East, is also a hub for trade, energy and transportation links. Governments and people are working towards security, modernization and better lives, while coping with protracted conflicts and cross-border crime. There have been reforms and democratic transformation, but challenges remain and NATO assistance and support is still needed.

Achieving this requires Russia to be engaged in the process.

The NATO-Russia partnership has begun another decade. In spite of hurdles, it remains a strategic element in fostering security in the Euro-Atlantic area. Romania is interested in a solid NATO partnership with Russia. This can help safeguard arms control regimes in Europe, fight terrorism and foster stability and democracy across the Euro-Atlantic area and beyond. Our partnership with Russia offers open dialogue and cooperation among equal partners, based on our shared interest in strengthening European and international security.

The Alliance has forged a culture of cooperation, advised on defence reforms and developed political dialogue.

While continuing to play a critical role in European security, NATO has also tried to encourage stability outside of Europe. To those who question our renewed agenda, we can only emphasize that Trans-Atlantic collective defence cannot be served in isolation.

NATO’s first ever activation of the collective defense clause after 9/11 proved not only our commitment to the fundamental character of our Alliance, but also our capacity to respond to new threats and security challenges, such as terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and regional instability. We have launched maritime security operation in the Mediterranean and made anti-terrorism cooperation a priority across partnerships. Building bridges outside of Europe has also meant engaging countries in North Africa and the Middle East, through the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.

NATO’s adaptation to the changing security environment has brought a valuable contribution to international security. Not just because remote instability can impact on the Trans-Atlantic area, but also because the Alliance has the expertise and instruments necessary to help foster security, in tandem with the UN and the EU. That is why we have made Alliance’s largest post-Cold War personnel and financial investment in Afghanistan. A stable Afghanistan is key to stability and prosperity in Central and South Asia, which in turn benefits the Middle East and Europe. We would like to see the ancient silk routes revived not as conduits for terrorism or narcotics, but through stability and cooperation.

The next steps at Bucharest

We hope NATO’s contribution to stability and security will go a step further in Bucharest. We should start talking seriously about a new strategic outlook that will help maintain the Alliance as a robust organization, capable of addressing evolving security challenges, both near and far, and prepared to enlist partner countries willing and able to contribute to set objectives and missions.

At the Bucharest Summit, we hope to be able to invite Albania, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* as members of the Alliance, and we encourage them to step up their preparations for this.

We aim to enhance the Euro-Atlantic Partnership as NATO’s main policy of engagement across Europe and Eurasia.

We want NATO to reconfirm its engagement in the Western Balkans, by maintaining its presence in Kosovo and by enhancing partnerships with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia.

We also hope the Alliance will continue its engagement and enlargement policy across the Black Sea region, by strengthening its support for Georgia and Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, as well as for its partnership with the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Georgia has made great strides in its democratic transformation and in contributing to NATO’s operations. We hope the Summit will end up with decisions in support of Georgia’s bid for the NATO Membership Action Plan.

We are also ready to assist Ukraine in fulfilling its Euro-Atlantic integration goals, based on sustainable political will and support of its people. NATO should further develop its cooperation with the Partners in Central Asia to support regional and Euro-Atlantic security.

We should start talking seriously about a new strategic outlook that will help maintain the Alliance as a robust organization, capable of addressing evolving security challenges, both near and far.

Bucharest is also an opportunity to advance NATO’s comprehensive contribution to international security. We look forward to reconfirming the Alliance’s solid commitment in Afghanistan and refreshing our strategy together with our mission partners. We also hope the Summit will mark renewed NATO-UN cooperation, as well as stronger ties with our partners for security, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea, based on our common interest.

We should send out the message that a strong and active NATO reinforces a strong European Union and vice-versa. Further expanding NATO-EU partnership in Kosovo, Afghanistan and our neighbourhood will remain a priority for Romania - and we hope this process will also bring Turkey closer to Europe.

The Summit would be a good venue to move forward on developing a NATO missile defence system, complementary and integrated to the one already developed by the US. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery means we strongly believe that the allied states should continue to work seriously on this. The indivisibility of Trans-Atlantic security, collective defence and solidarity will remain fundamental. NATO should be at the forefront of this endeavour.

We also look forward to defining NATO’s value added in energy security, taking the Riga Summit decisions one step further. We should speed up identifying a niche role for NATO in this field, using the unique assets of the organization and avoiding unnecessary duplications with others. We must also bear in mind that energy concerns go hand in hand with environmental protection.

In a nutshell, the Bucharest Summit could be a bridge between NATO’s Euro-Atlantic and international engagements, between our past achievements and new tasks in view of the anniversary Summit in 2009 and Summits thereafter. We have the chance to open debates and start charting our way forward towards a new strategic concept that will increase NATO’s capabilities and missions to secure stability in the Euro-Atlantic area and beyond.

Mr Traian Băsescu, President of Republic of Romania

From Afghanistan to Bucharest, NATO is changing

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