Updated: 26 May 1999 NATO Speeches


NATO Summit

with the
States on

25 Apr. 1999

Romania's proposal for the reconstruction of the South-East

Remarks by President Emil Constantinescu

Mister Secretary General,
Mister President,
Your Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

The Southeast of Europe is today the epicentre of a tragedy. Everybody is talking about war. But it is now to talk about peace and reconstruction. It is not an easy task. However, it is necessary and possible. I am addressing you on behalf of a country that had inter-ethnic problems. Thanks to its own forces, loyal to democracy and dialogue, Romania has succeeded to surmount them for good. What democracy achieved for Romania, democracy will succeed for the whole of Southeastern Europe.

Wide cooperation is needed for this process to be lasting and quick-paced. Without the prospect which NATO alone can open up for regional stability and security; without the presence of the United States; without the direct, methodical involvement of the European Union, of the strong industrial states and of all the European nations together; without support from the OSCE and the Council of Europe, this ambitious project could fail. It could equally fail if Russia rejects it and sees it as a threat. Contrariwise, a democratic Russia can be an important actor in this project.

We should think of a present situation as a three-fold battle: the military, the political, and the economic battle for peace and democracy in Southeastern Europe. These three battles must be won together, or there will be no victory at all.

Victory means first and foremost security. Only the consolidation of NATO's Southern flank, through the soonest extension of an invitation for Romania, Slovenia and Bulgaria to become full members of the Alliance, can assure it in the long term. It is safer for NATO, and safer for the whole region, to have the Alliance firmly implanted in the region. For our countries, which assumed the same risks of any member state, without the guarantees and benefits of actual membership, a deadline after 2002 seems an unfair and remote prospective.

Systematic support must be lent to the maturation of the civil society, encouragement (material included) to the cooperation among the non-governmental organisations in the whole Southeast European area, starting with Yugoslavia.

Last, but not least, this must be an economic plan. This plan should be comprehensive, and take into account both emergency operations, seeking to rebuild the destroyed areas, to restore navigation along the Danube and the Danube's ecosystem, and long-term projects, seeking to lay the foundations for lasting economic cooperation.

Economic incentives to the stable zones neighbouring the conflict-torn area is an emergency, as well as the foremost political instrument for maintaining zonal equilibirum and persuading, all the countries in the region of the positive model's validity.

In the long run, the project must restore, at the standards of the 21st century, the complementary aggregate of this region's economies, whose vocation of a bridge between the West and the East must be shown again to advantage.

As time is running, I would like to propose that starting this year, each summit from now on - the United States-European Union, the G-8 summit, and so on - should have a panel on the Southeastern reconstruction plan, with the participation of the representatives of the countries in the region. For I think that this reconstruction must, above all, involve the states and societies in the region in drafting, conceiving, and implementing the program. Only this way would they stop being part of the problem and become part of the solution. Our region has a long historical experience that must not be neglected; it has experts, natural resources and educated human resources. It has developed, throughout a long history, complementary economies and multiple trade links. We do not look for assistance programmes, but for proactive partnership programmes. The fact that countries lying in the immediate vicinity of Yugoslavia actively participate in its reconstruction will diminish the Serbian people's sense of isolation and will defend the democratic world against the allegation of having started the war to gain profits. In exchange, a joint participation will be able to revive the dignity of the old and noble civilization of the Southeast of Europe so that it may no longer waste its energies in frustration and destructive aggressiveness, but use them in building a common future.

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