|Updated: 21-Nov-2002||NATO Speeches|
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,
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Among the other heads of state, that historical document was signed by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.
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
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
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
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.