Basescu serves up some suprises in NATO Summit Preview
On January 31, GMF Brussels hosted a talk by Romanian President Traian Basescu, entitled "Gearing up for the NATO Summit," that was later opened up for a question and answer session from the audience. Dr. Ronald D. Asmus, the executive director of GMF's Brussels Office, moderated the event held in the packed Polak Room of the Residence Palace.
President Basescu gave a brief preview of what the next NATO Summit, set to happen this April in Bucharest, would entail; including talks on future enlargement and partnership possibilities, developing a new sense of neighborhood alliance and welcoming new member countries. However, he also laid out his hopes for the discussion of certain topics and gave the Romanian standpoint on several other issues.
A podcast of President Basescu's remarks is available from the GMF VirtualForum here.
The first of such issues that drew many questions from the audience concerned the status of Kosovo. President Basescu began his analysis by saying that giving Kosovo independence would "implicitly endorse collective rights," which are not aligned with European and international laws, thus possibly creating a "risky precedent" that would have "huge effects in time." He continued by saying that Romania would not be able to recognize the independence of Kosovo, suggesting that democracy in Serbia must prevail and should work on becoming consolidated to facilitate its integration with the rest of Europe.
In response to questions about how Romania would be perceived if the United States and EU countries accept Kosovo's declaration of independence, especially since his stance sounded close to that of Russia, President Basescu said he was "not afraid of being close to the Russian position," but would be more "afraid of not being in accordance with the UN Charter, international laws or the Helsinki Accords." He attributed the problems with Kosovo to a "deep lack of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina," and the "single realistic solution [would be] to encourage fruitful dialogue." He admitted that his solution would be unpopular, but he advocated that the two sides should be given another chance to discuss their situation.
The president stressed the importance of the Black Sea region calling it a "crossroads of Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East," and the region's trade, energy and transportation hub. To that effect, he hoped Ukraine and Georgia would have a presence in Bucharest, and that such an invitation would send a strong message for their eventual inclusion to NATO. Since these areas are important, however, he also called for an increase in NATO's commitment to provide international security "not just to member nations," and that NATO needs to become more involved in energy and cyber security. The reasoning being that terrorists are not only relegated to making overt attacks on member nations, but can do so indirectly by attacking existing infrastructure and supply boats that will cut off energy supplies to Europe and other countries.
He also stressed that NATO's relationship with Russia needs to be strengthened, and that NATO should continue to pursue a missile defense system comparable and compatible with that of the U.S. since only "80 percent of the NATO territories are protected," emphasizing the need for "indivisible security."