4 Feb. 1997

Welcome Speech

by the Dean of the North Atlantic Council,
Ambassador Leif Mevik, Permanent Representative of Norway

Mr. President,

On behalf of the North Atlantic Council I have the honour of welcoming you at NATO Headquarters.

I also would like to congratulate you on your recent election as President of your country. The exemplary way in which the November elections were conducted confirms that democracy has taken root in Romania. You have, Mr. President, played an important rôle in that tranformation. We all wish you success in your efforts to lead your country and people through the challenging process of political and economic reform. We have the deepest respect for the way your people has struggled for freedom through years of particular hardships.

Your early visit to NATO after assuming your duties as President is a very clear political manifestation of your country's commitment to integrate in the European security structures. Nobody doubts the strength of that commitment. Romania was the first partner country to sign the Partnership for Peace Framework Document, almost to the date three years ago.

Since then Romania has been one of the most active partner countries in PfP activities. The Romanian efforts to promote civilian control over armed forces have been very positive. Equally laudable have been your country's initiatives to enhance its capability to function interoperably with NATO.

At the Summit in Madrid this summer, NATO will invite one or more countries to open accesion negotiations. It will also decide on an enhanced PfP. This new PfP will offer far more possibilities for partner countries to play their rôle as co-actors with the Allied countries in our common search for security. I'm convinced that Romania will play her part. We also look forward to working with you in the shaping of a new enhanced cooperation forum, the Atlantic Partnership Council.

Let me also mention Romania's active participation in the individual dialogue with NATO over the last year. I expect that an intensified dialogue will take place also in the coming months, and will further enhance understanding between NATO and Romania.

Your commitment to contribute to our common endeavour to create stability and security in Europe was again confirmed by your valued participation in IFOR, and by the approximately 200 Romanian soldiers presently in SFOR.

NATO-nations also warmly welcome the recently concluded treaty between Romania and Hungary, as well as the progress achieved in the negotiations on a bilateral treaty with Ukraine, both of which will be important contributions to good neighboorlly relations and stability in Europe.

Mr. President, it is a strong wish of all NATO Allies that your people and your country should feel secure and at home in the wide European family of nations, sharing the same values and ideas. Allow me on behalf of this Council, Mr. President, to paraphrase your own new year speech to the Romanian nation in wishing you, your people and your country, every success in pursuing prosperity, security and an improved, more dignified rôle among the nations of Europe and the world.

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