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Prime Minister Nastase’s Speech at Columbia
The Southern Dimension of NATO Enlargement. Romania's Vision
H.E. Mr. Adrian Nastase, Prime Minister of Romania

Thank you, Professor Micqiel, for your hospitality and kind support in organizing this event. You are a friend of Romania, with profound understanding of our country and our region. You lent instrumental help in opening the "Nicolae Iorga Chair" that, through the dedicated work of Professor Mihaela Albu, as well as of other Romanian academics, is a fulcrum of Romanian language and literature in this highly reputed university. I would also like to commend Romanian Society for the hard work in promoting Romanian culture and traditions while building friendship between Romanians and Americans.

Distinguished Professors and Students of the Columbia University, Dear friends,

Both as a professor and as a politician, it is a special pleasure for me to share with you my vision of Romania and our contribution to the peace, security and freedom of the Trans-Atlantic space community.

The attacks of September 11 touched our souls because they assaulted the very essence of our humanity. Along with thousand of Americans and hundreds from around the globe, eleven Romanians fell victim that day. The magnitude of the trauma in the United States generated shock, emotion and sympathy among the Romanian people. Thousands of Romanians gathered on September 14 in Bucharest to convey -- through their presence and their prayers solidarity, compassion and support for the American people.

Those atrocities made clear that terrorism is the most insidious and immediate threat faced by our nations. They also generated the antidote: for those who share common values to unite the cause of defeating evil. International support is essential in the multifaceted theaters of the war on terrorism: military operations; diplomatic coalitions; financial countermeasures; intelligence sharing; and law enforcement coordination.

The Importance of NATO Enlargement

Although some questioned the rationale of NATO's existence after the fall of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, wiser voices saw that the alliance that was so critical in winning the Cold War could be even more central in securing the peace. How? First by thwarting a dictator's desire to conquer neighbors, exploit ethnic unrest and use mass murder as a tool of policy. In Bosnia, in Kosovo and now in Macedonia, NATO acted, NATO fought and NATO worked.

Second, NATO began a historic process of enlargement to invite qualified new democracies to join the alliance. The 60 million people of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic were the first beneficiaries of NATO's role in consolidating the new Europe. It is no surprise to them or to Romanians, that NATO invoked the Article V mutual defense clause in its charter for the first time in its history after the attacks on September 11th.

In November this year in Prague, NATO members will meet in a historic summit. NATO will consider momentous issues: the evolving relationship with Russia; interaction with the European Union's nascent defense capabilities; and how best to meet the security challenges of the 21st century. NATO will also issue invitations to Europe's new democracies for full membership in the alliance. The scope of NATO's enlargement was boldly defined by President Bush in his historic June 2001 speech in Warsaw: "from the Baltic to the Black Sea".

Inviting new European democracies to join NATO will further consolidate stability and democracy in Central and Eastern Europe. It will, finally erase the old Cold War division and complete a Europe that is whole and free. NATO enlargement will also enhance NATO's ability to meet the challenge of terrorism. As NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson pointed out at the November 2001 Sofia Summit of NATO candidate countries, there is no better insurance against terrorism than enlarging NATO by inviting stable, multi-ethnic, rule of law-based societies that share the same values that bind North America and Europe?

Moreover, Europe's new democracies have already acted as "de facto" allies. Without the pressure of treaty or law, they freely chose to assume the central obligation of NATO -- Article V -- that an attack on any member of the Euro-Atlantic community is an attack on all. Concrete support to military operations was provided: we opened our airspace, airfields and port facilities to Allied forces; we committed our intelligence assets, search and rescue personnel, and military forces to the campaign. We froze financial assets linked to terrorist groups and denied terrorists' access to Europe. In my view, a new alliance emerged from September 11th when the 19 NATO members and Europe's new democracies joined as de facto allies for a shared purpose.

The democracies of Central and Eastern Europe are reliable allies in countering the 21st century threats to the Trans-Atlantic community: terrorism, trans-border crime and ethnic or religious intolerance. After the hard legacy of communism, our national identity - our European identity - is defined by an unwavering commitment to pluralistic democracy, free markets, respect for human rights and the rule of law, good relations with our neighbors and complete dedication to EU and NATO integration. With our mixed religious and ethnic populations, we are a bridge between the West and the Islamic World. We believe that the democracies of Southeastern Europe will continue to make significant contributions to European security. We remain firmly committed to the integration of the Baltic and Central European countries in NATO. Each of us has a unique role to play in fostering stability, security and freedom from the Baltic to the Black Sea.

The Southern Dimension of NATO Enlargement

As President Bush said in Warsaw, "the expansion of NATO has fulfilled NATO's promise. And that promise now leads eastward and southward, northward and onward".

Romania and Bulgaria are the most populous of the new European democracies. We are the tested partners in Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia and the war against terrorism. From a geo-strategic perspective, including Romania and Bulgaria in NATO will consolidate the southern flank of the Alliance and strengthen its ability to address current security needs. Challenges remain in the western Balkans. Surrounding the territory of the former Yugoslavia with stable and democratic NATO members will increase the prospects for economic and political success in the region. NATO's strategic contiguity would be also ensured, since Romania and Bulgaria would link Northern and Central Europe with Greece and Turkey. The Prime Ministers of Greece and Turkey have publicly expressed their support for a southern dimension of NATO enlargement including Romania and Bulgaria. They understand that the Southern Dimension of NATO enlargement will increase stability, reduce the potential for conflict and strengthen European integration.

The Southern Dimension of enlargement will also strengthen NATO's pro-active action against asymmetrical threats. Romania is already working cooperatively in the region against trans-border crime. The Regional Center against Trans-border Crime located in Bucharest, Romania, for example, has seen success in dismantling regional human and drug trafficking networks. Our inclusion in NATO would strengthen the European barriers against criminal and terrorist activities flowing from Central Asia and Caucasus.

The inclusion of Romania and Bulgaria will bring NATO to the Black Sea and provide the Alliance with permanent forward bases for air, land, and maritime traffic towards the Middle East and Central Asia. Romania and Bulgaria have already proven their utility in the campaign in Afghanistan, by opening air, land and maritime space, and placing port and airport facilities at the disposal of the United States and its allies.

I am proud that Romania was the one of the first countries to join the International Security and Assistance Force in Afghanistan with military police, transport aircraft and liaison officers. We are ready to provide further support: doctors, a specially trained military chemical unit and elite mountain troops. Our offer was endorsed by the overwhelming approval of the Romanian Parliament on December 21, 2001. It demonstrates our commitment to act as a "de facto" ally of the United States and NATO in the war against terrorism.

Romania's Contribution to NATO

What will Romania bring to the Alliance?

First of all, let me tell you that Romania's goal to join NATO is fundamental and irreversible. It is based upon our commitment to the shared values of the Trans-Atlantic community. It is consistent with the choices for democracy pluralism, free market economics and international responsibility that we made after 1989. We are confident in our chance to make history in Prague. But we will stay the course even if our moment is delayed.

In the past decade, we have come a long way. We have made mistakes. We have learned lessons. And we have made tremendous progress. Romania is a stable democracy, tested in three rounds of national elections and two peaceful transfers of political power. Ethnic tolerance and religious freedom are firmly rooted in our society. We have come to terms with our painful historical legacies of fascism and communism. We have returned confiscated properties, destroyed statues of fascists, condemned anti-Semitism and preserved Romania's Jewish heritage. We have done this not because we were under pressure from abroad. We have done this because it is right because it reflects the values we share with this great country. After a decade of difficult economic reforms, 2002 should see the third consecutive year of economic growth. A stand-by agreement has been concluded with IMF and major privatizations were completed last year. We are encouraged by the recent Moody's upgrade of Romania's credit rating. Clear challenges remain however. We need to lower inflation, speed up privatization, and improve the business climate. I will not speak in code about this last point. Corruption is a drain on our economy, a damper on foreign investment, and blight on our image. It is a threat to the values we hold and the freedoms we worked so hard to acquire. Fighting corruption is the number one priority of our political and economic agenda this year.

Romania would directly strengthen NATO's security role through our experience in peacekeeping operations and our role, in promoting stability and cooperation in Southeastern Europe. Romania remains on the frontline of conflicts in Southeastern Europe. On September 19, the Romanian Parliament approved a tripling of Romania's participation in SFOR and KFOR. We are at peace with our neighbors and seek to promote diplomatic cooperation beyond our immediate borders. Last year, we launched the "Partnership for Europe" with Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine have important roles to play and Romania believes the logic of engagement is the means to definitively dismantle Cold War divisions in Europe.

Holding the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) Chairmanship last year was a great test for Romania; it is a test we passed with flying colors. We contributed to the stability of Kosovo and Macedonia by facilitating the NATO's "Amber Fox" Mission in Macedonia, overseeing the first Kosovo elections, and in reducing tensions in Southern Serbia. During first half of 2002, Romania will hold two important regional responsibilities: the co-chairmanship of the Stability Pact's Working Table on Security and the Chairmanship of the Executive Committee of the Southeastern Europe Defense Ministerial. We will use these opportunities to continue and enhance the Stability Pact's actions to build an regional capability to cope with 21st century threats.

Romania would be a value added to NATO's military capabilities. We are reforming and adapting our military to be a professional, flexible force, fully inter-operable with NATO. Our armed forces have been reduced to one third of their 1989 level, while the military budget almost doubled in 2001. The huge increase in per soldier spending has made a dramatic difference in our readiness, morale and overall capabilities. This year, we will increase the pace of military reform.

On March 25-26 this year, Romania will be honored to host the Prime Ministers of Europe's new democracies to discuss the future of the new Europe. It will be a meeting to celebrate shared values, discuss common threats, and expand security cooperation. Each of us aspires to NATO membership and each of us understands the dramatic challenges facing NATO in the 21st century. In our view, NATO enlargement is not a challenge but an opportunity - a historic opportunity to strengthen NATO and build a Europe whole and free. As President Bush said in Warsaw, NATO "should not calculate how little we can get away with, but how much we can do to advance the cause of freedom".

Romania is inspired and motivated by President Bush's vision of NATO enlargement from the Baltic to the Black Sea. I personally heard him when I met him last November. Romania has a road map to success, as we have important friends, partners and supporters. We have learned from experience not to take anything for granted, mindful that everything is achievable through hard work and that grand objectives are ours to achieve -- or to lose. I can assure you that Romania will do whatever it takes to be prepared for the rendezvous with history in Prague, that we will to be ready to defend our common goals and values, and contribute to a larger, stronger NATO able to meet the challenges of the 21st century as ably as it met those in the last.