4 Feb. 1997

Secretary General's Council Welcoming Remarks

for Romanian President Constantinescu


I am very pleased to welcome to the Council this afternoon President Emil Constantinescu of Romania. Your visit is a sign of the ever closer ties that exist between Romania and the Atlantic Alliance.

First, let me congratulate you most warmly, Mr. President, on the outcome of November's elections in Romania. The way this important election has been conducted is a sign of your country's commitment to democratic and pluralistic values. Within a short time, Romania has gone very far indeed.

Your visit therefore comes at a key point in your country's modern political history. Despite the long and difficult transition, Romania remains firmly on course on its internal democratisation. It also remains on course in its relationship with its neighbours, and Europe more generally. Romania has come to an historic agreement with its neighbour, Hungary, and demonstrated a firm commitment to good, friendly relations in your region.

Romania was the first country to join the Partnership for Peace and has consistently shown a strong commitment to its cooperation with NATO and with other Partners. We appreciate your active participation in PfP and the restructuring of your military forces to enable joint action with NATO in a crisis. Also, Romania's participation in the Stabilisation Force in Bosnia shows that your country is ready to contribute its share of burden and obligations in creating the Euro-Atlantic security which we all seek.

Despite the costs you incurred, you helped enforce the sanctions against the former Yugoslavia and, both by your actions and example, Romania has played a constructive role in moving the region to a sustainable peace. Today, Romanian engineers helping to re-establish decent living conditions for the Bosnian people are a hopeful sign that long-term stability and reconciliation can be built in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This cannot help but be a benefit to the Balkans and Europe as a whole.

President Constantinescu, we are delighted to have you here with us today and we await your remarks with great interest.

I now pass the floor to the Dean.

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