Updated: 21-Nov-2002 NATO Speeches


21 November


by Mr. Ion Iliescu, the President of Romania, at the "19+7" meeting of Heads of State and Government of NATO countries and countries invited to begin accession talks with NATO

Mr. Secretary General,
Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
Dear Friends,

You have made history today. You have taken decisions on enlargement, capabilities and partnerships, which will shape the future of the Euro-Atlantic area, including Romania. You have opened a new chapter in Europe's long lasting quest for unity and peace.

For Romanians, Prague has a special meaning. It is a place where, in 1968, Romania, alongside other Warsaw Pact countries, was commanded to come with tanks in order to end the "Prague Spring". Romania not only refused but also condemned the invasion of Czechoslovakia. In 1991 member countries decided, in Prague, to dissolve the Warsaw Treaty. Among the other heads of state, that historical document was signed by President Havel and myself. Today, the NATO Allies have issued a different kind of invitation, that of joining NATO in order to defend and promote democratic values and to build a Europe whole and free. We are delighted and honoured to accept it.

For Romania and its citizens, it is an invitation to open a new page of history. It is an invitation to join a family to which, culturally and spiritually, we have always belonged. It is an invitation that reconfirms the ideals of the 1989 Romanian revolution- We are deeply committed to the values, principles and common interests of the Alliance.

We look upon this moment with great satisfaction. We view it as a recognition of the efforts made towards attaining one of our fundamental foreign policy goals in the last decade. NATO membership will link our own security and defence interests and responsibilities to those of the Euro-Atlantic community and will reinforce our conviction that we are bound together and will grow stronger together.

On its way towards NATO membership, within the excellent initiative that was the Partnership for Peace, Romania has proven her will and her ability to take the measures needed, sometimes painful, in order to launch and sustain the positive change within the Romanian society as a whole.

Romania has made important progress in the economic field, as well as in the reform of the military- Romania has confirmed that it is willing and able to be part not only of an international community of values but also of a community of action.

We are fully aware that Prague does not represent the end of the road for us, but a new and challenging beginning. We are, therefore, determined to continue to engage with full responsibility, energy, and resources in the effort of preparations for full integration into the Alliance. Defense allocations will be maintained at the present level of about 2.3 % of GDP. Economic, legislative and administrative reforms will continue, in line with the complementary goal of meeting European Union membership requirements.

The consolidation of democratic values, building an efficient and competitive market economy, strengthening the country's capacity to play its role as a security and stability provider in the region, are all aims closely interrelated with our national interest.

Let me express our gratitude for the consistent support and assistance received from the NATO member states, NATO's Secretary General and the Alliance's International Staff in the process of preparing for membership. Let me also express the conviction that the continuation of this cooperation will be even more essential in the coming period.

I wish also to congratulate and thank the brave soldiers that Romania has deployed to Afghanistan, as well as all the Romanian soldiers in Kosovo or Bosnia. Their presence, as well as that of more than 9000 Romanians in peacekeeping missions in the last 10 years proves mat

Romania can, in co-operation with our NATO partners, be a producer of global security.

Finally, allow me to sincerely congratulate my colleagues from all the candidate countries invited here, today, to join the North Atlantic Alliance. Our joint endeavors and the spirit of solidarity that has marked our cooperation as we prepared for membership testify to our ability to act as trustworthy, reliable allies. We shall continue our work together, reinforcing each other's efforts on the road to full integration into the Alliance, while supporting the aspiration of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia and assisting Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in joining the Euro-Atlantic institutions.

I would also launch the invitation to act together for the re-emergence of Central and Eastern Europe as an area whose future lies in peace, democracy, economic prosperity and full integration into the European and Euro-Atlantic structures, for the benefit not only of our nations but ultimately of the entire Euro-Atlantic community.

Thank you.

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