He said that ‘five years ago, Romania was still knocking at the European Union’s doors,’ because, although it had completed negotiations its accession date was still under a question mark because of a special clause regarding justice and other administrative malfunctions in areas such as agriculture, environment and competition.
‘It took a substantial domestic and foreign policy effort for January 1, 2007 to become the moment of accession, an endeavour that lasted several years and to which all the political parties, joined by Romanians, contributed. Today, Romania has a well-defined profile in the world,’ the President said.
Basescu said that ‘Romania’s full recognition as a credible and predictable state’ came with the NATO summit meeting that marked the reconfirmation of Romania’s position on the world stages. He added that he was not afraid to tackle embarrassing truths that had still to be mentioned, and that in this interval Romania’s relation with its European and North-American partners as well as with friend countries on all continents furthered.
‘I would like to mention to the point particularly the consolidation of the strategic partnership with the US, as well as the development of similar partnerships with France and Korea.
Next month, Romania will conclude a strategic partnership with Poland that will add new valence to our efforts within the European Union and in the neighbourhood,’ said Basescu.
He pointed out that buttressing the strategic partnership of Romania with the US are common interests in citizens’ security and prosperity.
‘Ever since the beginning of my tenure I have believed that, besides our presence in Euro¬Atlantic structures, only a consolidated relationship with the US can offer Romania the long-term security guarantees it needs.
In this sense, I would like to point to the signing in 2005 of an agreement between Romania and the US concerning the activity of the US forces stationed on Romania’s soil.
Under that agreement, US troops operate and train themselves jointly with Romanian troops at the military facilities of Dobrogea,’ the President added.
Basescu also pointed out that Romania is a party to the Nabucco gas pipeline project toward which many Romanian politicians and analysts voiced scepticism.
‘Yet, Nabucco is about to happen. At the end of a huge diplomatic effort of the participating countries, an agreement on the construction of this gas pipeline was signed in Ankara. The country’s energy security is a priority and it should stay so, not just to secure a diversity of sources and meet the demand, but also to maintain the national sovereignty and the autonomy of political decisions of Romania’s governments,’ said Basescu.
He added that Romania has managed to ‘place the Black Sea issue on the agenda of the European Union,’ arguing that it is crucial to Romania that an area of security and prosperity exists at the borders of the European Union and NATO.
In relation to the conflict between Georgia and Russia, Basescu mentioned that Romania once again confirmed its understanding of the area, as well as its correct strategy assessment when presenting the host of ‘frozen conflicts’ around the Black Sea as a risk against national security and regional peace.
‘We need Russia to solve such security problems, but Russia has to play its part responsibly and in good faith.
Romania wants a pragmatic relationship with the Russian Federation that is grounded in mutual trust and respect to mutual interests,’ said the President.
Basescu pointed out that processes such as the Black Sea Forum for Dialogue and Partnership, the Black Sea Euro-Region under the aegis of the Council of Europe, the Black Sea Synergy of the European Union and the blueprint for a Danube strategy of the European Union were the outcome of diplomatic efforts, including Romania’s.
At the same time, he pointed out that during his tenure Romania won a favourable decision from the International Court of Justice in The Hague in its dispute with Ukraine over the delimitation of the Black Sea continental shelf and exclusive economic zones.
‘That was a difficult endeavour that was led to successful completion by a new generation of exceptional diplomats. Romania’s victory in The Hague is just one example that confirms what Romania can achieve when it knows how to defend its rights.
The same as Romania’s position on the status of the Kosovo province, Romania’s victory in The Hague proves the solidity of our approach of the relations between states all these years, the stance of the supremacy of international law, of the force of law instead of the right of force, as Nicolae Titulescu would put it,’ said Basescu.
Likewise, he mentioned that Romania’s relations with countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia were expanded and a partnership with Azerbaijan will be signed late this month.
‘The frequent visits to the Middle East and the Gulf area prove that the issues of that zone were not indifferent to us and cannot be so. We want to promote in a more careful manner our relations with these states and, where need be, to find back the former intensity of such relations,’ said Basescu.
The President also said that China’s size and dynamism boost the expansion of traditional relations and that he wants a speedy development of relations with Japan, Korea, India and other Asian countries.
He pointed out that as chair of the Supreme Council for National Defence (CSAT), he approved the withdrawal of Romanian troops from Iraq this summer.
‘The decision, taken under a memorandum of understanding with the Iraqi Government, marked the end of the most complex mission of the Romanian Army after WWII. More than 8,400 Romanian troops honoured Romania’s pledge to its allies and honourably carried out their duties for six years under hard conditions.
I am taking a bow of gratitude before the soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan under our country’s flag’ said Basescu.
The President added that despite many attempts to politicise the presence of Romanian troops in Iraq, he has always been the advocate of meeting the country’s pledges.
‘I have considered the commitments made under the tenure of President Iliescu to be Romania’s pledges that have to be fully met, irrespective of whether now, after we have entered NATO and the EU, we like it or not, and I mean here our pledges in Western Balkans and Afghanistan,’ said the President.