25 Mar 2007


by Jean-François Bureau, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, at the occasion of the visit of the ITS EURO to the port of Constanta

Dear Mrs. State Secretary Ionescu,
Your excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour and privilege to represent the North Atlantic Treaty Organziation at this Public Diplomacy Event in Constanta, Romania.

While the NATO Public Diplomacy Division has proudly endorsed this joint effort, let me offer my whole-hearted gratitude to the Romanian authorities, both military and civilian, and our military colleagues from Naples under the command of Vice Admiral Cesaretti, the Commander, Maritime Component Command Naples, for their invaluable support in organizing this special event.   As you know, CC-Mar is one of the three Component Commands of Joint Force Command Naples and is responsible for the planning, coordination and execution of all Maritime related tasks, there.

On behalf of NATO HQ, let me also extend a special thanks and greetings to the crew and the commanding officer of the ITS Euro, Commander Terrinoni, for their hospitality and availability to support us in this important event.   While also under national command, I understand that the ITS Euro will re-join NATO’s Operation Active Endeavour very soon. 

As you know, this port visit of the ITS Euro in the historic and impressive port city of Constanţa, is part and parcel of a wider public diplomacy campaign that we have developed together with our Romanian friends in the run-up to, and during the Bucharest Summit. 

As the senior NATO official responsible for public diplomacy, I believe that such a public diplomacy campaign is more important than ever, as we look at the broad evolution of key security issues affecting our own countries: we need public support for NATO within our Alliance and beyond in order to face the main challenges we are dealing with in a rapidly changing world.   Its main objective is to present not only the Alliance’ broad agenda, from ongoing operations to new political initiatives, but – more simply – to explain what NATO is all about and why our Alliance remains indispensable for our security in the 21st Century. 

Next week’s Summit, as you know, will be the largest in NATO’s history, bringing together more than 60 Heads of State and Government, Ministers, as well as senior representatives of other international institutions and organizations.  It will thus be a landmark event not only in size but clearly demonstrate NATO’s continuing transformation and our collective commitment to work together with all our partners in the wider International Community to tackle the important challenges of the day.

Issues such as enlargement, the evolution of NATO’s partnerships, the distinct, and important NATO-Ukraine and NATO-Russia relationships, defence capabilities, the situation in the Balkans, and, of course, Afghanistan are all part of this very ambitious agenda, indeed.   And while we will decide on the basis of consensus which is our common rule within the Alliance which will allow us to move forward, one of our key challenges in the months and years ahead is to make all these issues relevant and well understood to our publics.    

It is thus a particular pleasure for me to stand aboard the ITS Euro and to help showcase what is an equally important operation for NATO - Active Endeavour.  This only Article 5, collective defence  operation has evolved significantly since the autumn of 2001, and is playing a vital role in the fight against terrorism.  Its achievements though targeted naval operations in the Mediterranean are highly impressive.  They do not only demonstrate NATO’s resolve but are a vivid example of the added value that this Alliance can bring to the complex, global fight against terrorism.   Like other NATO missions and operations, we have also welcomed the interest and participation of non-NATO members, including Ukraine and other nations from the Meditteranean Sea in our joint efforts.  In short, as the demonstrations and briefings that you have received here today vividly show, NATO may be fighting the Taliban in southern Afghanistan but is also actively engaged in detecting and deterring terrorism-related activities on the high seas, close to our shores.  This shows that fighting terrorism is a challenging and daily task.

Does this mean that NATO aspires to be the main counter-terrorism organization in the world?  Far from it.   You know as well as I do that this main challenge of the 21st century is far too complex to be tackled by one organization, government or institution on its own.  Rather, NATO Allies will continuously adapt the Alliance’s policies in this regard in order to defend collective interests and to maximise the added value that the Alliance can bring. 

Before I conclude, I would like to say how grateful we are to Romania.  Just as much as NATO today is a very different organization from what it was only 10 years ago, Romania itself has gone through a most impressive transformation process.  Today, as a member of both NATO and the EU, Romania is not only a key member of the Euro-Atlantic family but is actively co-shaping collective decisions and policies in both organizations that have a direct impact on the well-being of all our citizens.  With 23 Million inhabitants in a strategic area on the Black Sea, Romania is giving a vivid example of how growing prosperity, a solid democracy, and stability can have a positive effect on regions and countries further a field but whose security and stability is of direct interest to all of us.  Romanian participation in ISAF, KFOR and OAE are only three examples of the important role that you are playing in this regard.

Over the years, Romania has also put forward a number of important initiatives to enhance regional cooperation in the Black Sea Region and has championed a stronger NATO role in this regard.  Looking ahead, I am sure that Allies will look at this region even more closely as we all share the same objectives of promoting reform efforts in the Partner countries, enhancing security, and meeting common challenges in this particular region.    

s we thus look ahead to next week, thus, Romania will make global headlines not only because of the NATO Summit but for what she herself has achieved over the last few years.  And as evidenced during my short stay here in Constanta, next week’s Summit will also, I am sure, reinforce Europe’s best kept secret that as a host  - this country is simply unbeatable.  Many thanks again to our Romanian hosts, Admiral Cesaretti and to all of us – as we head towards the big event next week: “Vint bun din pupa. “  [Fair winds and following seas ] .