April 4th, 2008
The NATO Summit in Bucharest was preceded by the opening of the International Conference of the German Marshall Fund on the night of April 1, 2008. A major meeting of member and partner states’ experts in international relations and NATO affairs, the event occasioned a brief overview by the President of Romania Traian Basescu of Bucharest’s position on the agenda of the Summit. The Romanian President’s address underscored that the agenda would include, among others, talks on the developments in Afghanistan, on the Alliance enlargement, while at the same time expressing hopes that the North Atlantic Alliance would welcome Albania, Croatia and Macedonia as new members, that the development of the Partnership for Peace in the region (Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia) would represent a step forward in stabilising the area and that the Black Sea region must be part of an endeavour to promote democracy and reform, by means of granting the MAP status to Ukraine and Georgia.
The speech by the President of Romania was followed by a keynote address by the Hon. Ellen Tauscher, member of the US House of Representatives and Chairwoman, US House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces. She emphasised that the main threat that NATO must handle in terms of international security is terrorism.
A Conference held on April 1 by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington D.C. jointly with the Foundation for Democracy, Culture and Freedom in Romania, must also be regarded as a preface to the Bucharest Summit. The Conference brought together well-known security experts as well as representatives of the business communities in several member states of the North-Atlantic Alliance. Titled “Central European Security: Power, Research, Markets and International Influence,” the meeting was a lively and useful exchange of expert opinions on matters on which NATO is expected to dwell and to make decisions in its top-level meeting in Bucharest. Mention must be made of some of the topics approached: NATO’s future and scope; the EU-NATO coordination; security issues, missile defence, cyber terrorism, organised crime; business role in security Alliance missions; the role of the private sector in State security; politics and economics of contractors in NATO operations; NATO – Russia and EU – Russia relations; Kremlin energy policy, etc. What debates indicated was that one of the key issues on the agenda of the Summit would be the handling of the Alliance’s relationship with Russia with respect to the option of a MAP status offered to Ukraine and Georgia, as well as the need to efficiently redesign and reshape NATO’s relationship with the European Union in view of optimising the international stability and security. Mention was also made that none of the non-NATO States may influence NATO decisions, and that in spite of the threats Russia lacks “retaliation” means in case some of the NATO decisions would be regarded as uncomfortable.
The first day of the NATO Summit in Bucharest saw a far-reaching event. Namely the speech given that morning by the US President George W. Bush at the CEC Palace in Bucharest, to an audience made up of Romanian officials and guests of the German Marshall Fund International Conference, representatives of international organisations, of the Romanian civil society and so on. Recalling, in the beginning of his address, the memorable “rainbow” moment during his 2004 visit to Romania, the American President made a point of praising the performances of the Romanian troops in international missions, jointly with the American forces. George W. Bush presented the US views on a number of current international and NATO matters. Here are the highlights of his address: NATO is no longer a static alliance; NATO will deploy troops wherever this will be necessary; the North-Atlantic Alliance must ensure the security of its citizens; Afghanistan is the most ambitious mission of NATO; the future of the Middle East belongs to freedom, rather than terror; the Alliance door is open to Serbia as well; Russia is not our enemy, we are working on a new security relation with this country; European institutions must be open to Russia; we will urge our European partners to invest more in defence; we appreciate our friendship with Romania; the anti-missile shield (to be installed in Poland and the Czech Republic) is an urgent matter; terrorists have sought to impose their own rules through terror attacks; we must decide what we will answer to Ukraine and Georgia’s requests (for the MAP).
Only tens of minutes later, the Romanian Premier Calin Popescu Tariceanu, a guest of the GMF Conference, delivered a speech which emphasised that the Summit must confirm the expectations of the Balkan and Black Sea states with respect to their accession to the trans-Atlantic organisation. “The NATO Summit is a good opportunity for us to meet the expectations of these countries,” the Romanian Premier stated. He also pointed out that the top-level meeting of the Alliance must clarify the issue of the energy security and bring about a consistent approach of this matter.
Also during the GMF Conference, two far-reaching meetings were held Wednesday. The first featured the NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the Premier of Canada Stephen Harper and the President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai, with talks focusing on the state of play in Afghanistan and the measures needed in order to make the NATO mission in this country successful. The second was a debate on Article V of the NATO Treaty, on its relevance to today’s world, and it brought together in a panel personalities such as Tomas Hendrik Ilves, President of the Republic of Estonia, the foreign ministers of Turkey and Poland Radoslaw Sikorski and Ali Babacan respectively, as well as ex-SACEUR Gen. Joseph Ralston. These distinguished personalities’ discussions with experts were the arena in which valuable ideas were put forth with respect to the new NATO strategic concept, to means of optimising NATO crisis management operations or to how to adjust NATO’s collective defence commitments for its members to the new security environment.
These happened before the “heavyweights” entered the arena, i.e. the representatives of Alliance states, heads of state and government for member states, partner states or special guest countries. This occasioned a clarification of the ways to reach consensus during meetings which require the consensus of all NATO members in order for a suitable decision to be made. Without doubt, opinions expressed in these meeting and speeches by senior officials, preceding the Summit, are highly relevant to the decisions to be made with respect to the Alliance enlargement, to the relationship with Russia or to Afghanistan.
Entry Filed under: Why choose Romania?