Updated: 26-Mar-2003 NATO Speeches


26 March 2003


by H.E. Mr. Mircea Geoana, Minister
of Foreign Affairs of Romania,
at the extraordinary meeting of the North Atlantic Council

Secretary General, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is a great day for my country. After receiving the invitation to join NATO in Prague Romania takes today another step toward membership. NATO membership is highly popular with our public and enjoys the full support of our political establishment. It symbolizes the full reintegration of Romania into the Euro-Atlantic family of free and democratic nations.

Membership will give Romania the security of belonging to the most successful alliance in history and will provide us with the opportunity to contribute directly to the policies, decisions and operations aimed at ensuring the stability and defense of our continent and beyond. Moreover, it is an important element in the development of Romania as a democratic, respected and prosperous country.

We have strived hard to make it here today and we are proud of our achievements. But it is not the end of the road. NATO is not only about benefits; it is also about responsibilities and contributions. We have to be able to fulfill them. Although we have already come a long way, progress is still needed. The reforms continue throughout the Romanian society, including firm measures against corruption, enhancing administrative capacity and sustained economic progress.

We focus on the importance of fully implementing NATO’s standards regarding the security of classified information. And, of course, we will continue the reforms of the Romanian military in order to build modern well-trained armed forces able to effectively act with our allies in NATO operations. Our commitment is reflected by the timetable for completion of reforms we have recently submitted to you.

Romania is determined to become a reliable and credible player, in NATO and the EU. We want the Alliance to stay as the main pillar of Euro-Atlantic defense, relying on Article 5 of the NATO Treaty. We want NATO to remain the most significant expression of the transatlantic link.

Only a strong Europe can be an effective partner for the United States in dealing with today’s tremendous problems. We support the development of a meaningful ESDP operating in the same direction.

The historic decisions in Prague and Copenhagen set the stage for a successful transatlantic partnership, based on a strong European identity, increased military capabilities and a larger global role.

NATO is now at a pivotal moment, with extraordinary challenges, but also with extraordinary opportunities. New threats are arising – the most dangerous one being the very toxic mix of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and trans-border organized crime. NATO has to meet these threats, because, as you Secretary General rightly said once, “geography is no longer our shield”. That is why new NATO capabilities are needed and that is why the Summit in Prague had its focus on the adaptation of capabilities and on building a NATO Response Force. Romania will be a net contributor to the process. We are already thinking of the capabilities we can bring along for NATO’s core missions and the “niche capabilities” we can offer to the Alliance.

Romania wants to contribute to all the other issues included on the Prague agenda. We are committed to the new relationship between NATO and the EU that enables the EU to take over, as a concrete expression of the ESDP, the operation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to which we have already pledged to contribute. We are looking forward to take part in the NATO-Russia Council, which has already built solid bridges of confidence between the parties. We are also looking forward to participating in the NATO-Ukraine cooperation.

Romania brings to the Alliance experience, expertise and a new vision of regional cooperation in the Balkans having as its goal the region’s full integration into the Euro-Atlantic mainstream. Recent dramatic events in Belgrade should prompt a faster, more meaningful development and support for Serbia and Montenegro to fulfill the conditions to be invited to the PfP.

We will also remain active in the EAPC framework, focusing on ways to strengthen the cooperation with partner countries, especially with those in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Romania supports the “open door” policy of NATO. We believe there is room in the Alliance for all peace loving, democratic states, willing and able to further its goals.

But first and foremost the Prague agenda means a sound solidarity within the Alliance.

The Alliance is changing as the world is changing. The heated debate which took place recently in this building showed that the allies can overcame divisiveness. In the years to come we will probably witness other differences. The Alliance should build on the lessons learnt from these discussions, to ensure that NATO lives up to its ultimate commitment of guaranteeing the defense of its member states.

Even more than its capabilities, the cohesion of NATO is its most important and effective weapon. Not only will Romania not forget this, but it will be our course of action as a member of the Alliance.

Secretary General, distinguished Colleagues,

We meet today in testing times for NATO, for the democratic community and indeed for the whole world. These are times when solidarity and spirit of alliance become a foremost value in the efforts to bring peace and stability to the world.

Our thoughts go today to the Iraqi people and to the soldiers that are fighting to disarm Saddam Hussein.

We do hope that the conflict ends swiftly so our attention can be focused on the future of Iraq and the Greater Middle East, from North Africa to Afghanistan. NATO, together with other international organizations, mainly the UN and the EU, has the potential to play a role in overcoming the difficulties in the aftermath of the war.

Looking back to the way we have come since 1989, we feel today like winners. A dream of generations of Romanians has come true. We are grateful to the older members for their support and guidance, as we are to the Secretary General. We hope this support will continue throughout ratification, as will our commitment to reform.

Romania will not be just another nameplate around the NATO table. We invested enormous energy and expectation into this journey. Challenges might lie ahead, but we believe in our Alliance. We believe in its values, we believe in its principles and we believe in its future.

We will never rest in helping it in any way we can to remain the Premier Alliance of the West.

Thank you very much.

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