From the event


2 Jul. 2008

Video interview

with Traian Basescu, President of Romania

Q:  Greetings Mister President and welcome to NATO headquarters.  What was the most vivid and memorable moment of the Bucharest Summit for you personally?

Basescu:  My favourite, the most vivid moment was a moment that was not part of the Summit as such. 

One evening at the reception given in the honour of Heads of State and Government present in Bucharest, at one table we had George Bush; Vladimir Putin; Angela Merkel; Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the UN; Mister Barroso, President of the European Commission; Mister Scheffer, the NATO Secretary General and their spouses. 

I think what impressed me was the density of decision-makers, of persons that decide destinies at the global level.  It was a very pleasant image.  The more so, that it was a very relaxed atmosphere.  Everybody was joking, was laughing.  And at the same time, they were discussing very serious matters.

Q:  What dit the Summit mean for the Romanian people?

Basescu:  It means a lot.  Firstly, it came as a recognition of Romania's importance in the region and within NATO.  Secondly, the Romanians could be proud to host the most important persons in the world.  Romania had the occasion to demonstrate its hospitality on one hand and at the same time to demonstrate its capacity of organizing such a large event.

And the result of the Summit pleased them because they were pleased with what happened in Bucharest in April.  Not lastly, it was for the Romanians an opportunity to demonstrate that they are a civilized people, people that has a lot to show culturally speaking.  And it was also important for Romanians that they were able to ensure the security of this event.

Q:  What were the Summit's main accomplishments and missed opportunities, if any?  Could NATO have done bettter?

Basescu:   I wouldn't say there were any lost opportunities.  I think the most important thing that happened at the Summit was the fact that it proved the Alliance capacity of transforming beyond the achievement of the objectives regarding the enlargement for example, the enlargement with Croatia, Albania and also Macedonia, that is after the settlement of their bilateral issue with Greece.  

Well, the summit has demonstrated the capacity of adapting to the new threat.  It is at this Summit where we have decided to put in place a missile defence shield that would protect all the NATO member States. 

It is at this summit that we decided that protecting the critical infrastructure for the transportation of energy is an objective of NATO.  And it is at this Summit where we established that the fight against terrorism as a new threat is a priority for the member States. 

This is a proof of the capacity of NATO to adapt to the new realities.  And moreover NATO demonstrated its capacity of having many partners.  The Summit with the Russian Federation, with Ukraine, the discussions and the projects for Afghanistan were proofs of the fact that NATO has the capacity to adapt to the world's current realities.

Q:  Both the UN Secretary General and the EU High Representative were present at the summit.  What does this mean for the future of NATO-UN and NATO-EU cooperation?

Basescu:   It means very much my opinion.  I would mention that it is for the first time when the UN Secretary General and the President of the European Commission, along with the World Bank, participate in a NATO Summit.

But beyond this matter, the significance is that NATO is building a partnership with the EU and with the UN.  And this means very much.  And at the same time, this is an objective that NATO has settled and that has proven it can achieve through the very fact of bringing these two great institutions, the EU and the UN, in a discussion on the future of Afghanistan. In my opinion, this is one of the characteristics of this Summit:  the capacity of uniting the great institutions of the world in a joint effort on Afghanistan. 

Q:  Did your country's decision not to recognize Kosovo make hosting the Summit more difficult in any way?

Basescu:   No, we didn't come across any issue in our hosting of the Summit due to our position on Kosovo.  I can tell you that we are maintaining our position.  And this will be our position on a very long term.  We cannot recognize the independence unilaterally declared in Priština.  But at the same time, under the provisions, the resolution 1244, Romania will assume the obligations entailed by the NATO membership.  And that means that we will continue to provide troops as part of KFOR.  And on the other hand, we will assume the obligations entailed by the EU membership.  And this means that Romania will also participate in the EULEX.  And the fact that we do recognize Kosovo will not be for us a reason of not being along with our Allies.

Q:  In your view, do the benefits of Georgia joining NATO outweigh the costs of inheriting frozen conflicts?

Basescu:   I think we can overcome this approach.  We can overcome the difficulty entailed by the frozen conflicts from the Georgia territory, particularly the Abkhazia situation.  Georgia has opted through a popular referendum where than 80% of the population voted in favour of joining NATO.  For this reason, I think that we should give all our respect to the option of the Georgian people, building at the same time on the added value that Georgia's presence would bring within NATO, for the security of the member States.  So I think that the balance inclines in favour of Georgia's accession when it will meet all the criteria. 

Q: Romania has been a consistent supporter of the Black Sea region.  Why do you consider this region so important for allied security?

Basescu:   There are many reasons.  I will refer to some of the reasons that make me and Romania a promoter of the Black Sea as a region where NATO and the EU should give priority and attention.

The EU member States and also the NATO member States are looking for viable alternatives in order to create competition for the energy supply for the EU market. 

The Black Sea region which is bordering the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea is a region that can generate this competition for the energy supply for the EU member States. 

At the same time, I would like to say that this region is also source of threats for the security of the NATO member States.  The level of trafficking in human beings is quite high coming from the former Soviet and the Central Asia to the EU.  Also the legal trafficking in arms.  And we can also see that the shortest road for the narcotics coming from Afghanistan to the EU goes again through this region. 

But beyond these arguments, I would also like to mention one argument which I believe is very important.  If you look at this region, you can see that it is at the crossroads in Central Asia, Middle East and Europe.  This means that the Black Sea region is surrounded by various cultures, various religions.  If you only look at the bordering States of the Black Sea you can see that we have Muslim States, states with Orthodox majority.  This is a mix of cultures, a crossroads of cultures that have to cohabitate.  And this is why we support with no reservation the fact that both NATO and the EU have to consider this region as a region of great sensitivity. 

Q:  Is NATO capable of dealing with 21st Century security threats, particularly in the areas of cyber-defence, missile defence and energy security?

Basescu:   Categorically yes.  NATO has the capacity of answering all these three threats of the 21st Century.  And the fact that through the document adopted in Bucharest we have established the involvement of NATO in the missile defence system, in the cyber defence system.  This demonstrates NATO's capacity of assuming these missions of perfecting the NATO member States and the EU member States from these 21st Century threats.  And I'm convinced that these new missions that NATO has assumed will not only be achieved, but they will also be raised at the level of performance that, in time, will make us think in peace about these issues.

Q:  Looking ahead, what's next for the Strasbourg-Kehl Summit?

Basescu:   It is obvious that this summit organized in Strasbourg-Kehl will have to be firstly a Summit of consolidation for the new approaches from Bucharest, related to the enlargement of NATO, to the NATO missions, to the consolidation of partnerships.

And at the same time, the Strasbourg-Kehl Summit will have to take decisions concerning the strengthening of the new dimensions assumed by NATO in Bucharest.  I have the conviction at the same time, this anniversary summit which will mark 60 years from the establishment of NATO will also create an excellent opportunity for the Franco-German "propeller" of the EU so that it will also become a catalyst within NATO.  I'm sure that this will happen, and I would like this to happen.

Q:  Thank you Mister President, we appreciate your time.