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Romania - a part of a complex and durable system: NATO

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Romania - a part of a complex and durable system: NATO

In an international context, after the ending of the Cold War, NATO has had an essential role for the Euro-Atlantic consolidation of the security. On a force negotiation base which increases substantially in the last decade, NATO has opened and has developed the politico-military partnership, cooperation and has consolidated dialogue with other states, culminating with the affiliation of new members, including Romania.

From 1945 to 1949, faced with the pressing need for economic reconstruction, Western European countries and their North American allies viewed with concern the expansionist policies and methods of the USSR. Having fulfilled their own wartime undertakings to reduce their defence establishments and to demobilise forces, Western governments became increasingly alarmed as it became clear that the Soviet leadership intended to maintain its own military forces at full strength. Moreover, in view of the declared ideological aims of the Soviet Communist Party, it was evident that appeals for respect for the United Nations Charter, and for respect for the international settlements reached at the end of the war, would not guarantee the national sovereignty or independence of democratic states faced with the threat of outside aggression or internal subversion. The imposition of undemocratic forms of government and the repression of effective opposition and of basic human and civic rights and freedoms in many Central and Eastern European countries as well as elsewhere in the world, added to these fears.

Between 1947 and 1949 a series of dramatic political events brought matters to a head. These included direct threats to the sovereignty of Norway, Greece, Turkey and other Western European countries, the June 1948 coup in Czechoslovakia, and the illegal blockade of Berlin which began in April of the same year. The signature of the Brussels Treaty of March 1948 marked the determination of five Western European countries - Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom - to develop a common defence system and to strengthen the ties between them in a manner which would enable them to resist ideological, political and military threats to their security.

Negotiations with the United States and Canada then followed on the creation of a single North Atlantic Alliance based on security guarantees and mutual commitments between Europe and North America. Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Norway and Portugal were invited by the Brussels Treaty powers to become participants in this process. These negotiations culminated in the signature of the Treaty of Washington in April 1949, bringing into being a common security system based on a partnership among these 12 countries. In 1952, Greece and Turkey acceded to the Treaty. The Federal Republic of Germany joined the Alliance in 1955 and, in 1982 Spain also became a member of NATO. The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland joined NATO in 1999.

The North Atlantic Alliance was founded on the basis of a Treaty between member states entered into freely by each of them after public debate and due parliamentary process. The Treaty upholds their individual rights as well as their international obligations in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. It commits each member country to sharing the risks and responsibilities as well as the benefits of collective security and requires of each of them the undertaking not to enter into any other international commitment which might conflict with the Treaty.

Between the creation of the Alliance and the present day, half a century of history has taken place. For much of this time the central focus of NATO was providing for the immediate defence and security of its member countries.

Today this remains its core task, but its immediate focus has undergone fundamental change.

NATO's essential purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of all its members by political and military means in accordance with the North Atlantic Treaty and the principles of the United Nations Charter. The Alliance has worked since its inception for the establishment of a just and lasting peaceful order in Europe based on common values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. This central Alliance objective has taken on renewed significance since the end of the Cold War because, for the first time in the post-war history of Europe, the prospect of its achievement has become a reality. NATO embodies the transatlantic link by which the security of North America is permanently tied to the security of Europe. It is the practical expression of effective collective effort among its members in support of their common security interests.

Developments of major significance for the entire European continent and for international relations as a whole continued as the year progressed. By the end of 1989 and the early weeks of 1990, significant progress had been made towards the reform of the political and economic systems of Poland and Hungary; and in the German Democratic Republic, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Romania, steps had been taken towards freedom and democracy which went far beyond expectations.

The promise held out for over 40 years to bring an end to the division of Europe, and with it an end to the division of Germany, took on real meaning with the opening of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. Beyond its fundamental symbolism, the member countries of the Alliance saw this event as part of a wider process leading to a genuinely whole and free Europe. The process was as yet far from complete and faced numerous obstacles and uncertainties, but rapid and dramatic progress had nevertheless been achieved. Free elections had taken place or were planned in most Central and Eastern European countries; former divisions were being overcome; repressive border installations were being dismantled; and, within less than a year, on 3 October 1990, the unification of the two German states took place with the backing of the international community and the assent of the Soviet Government, on the basis of an international treaty and the democratic choice of the German people as a whole.

Both the fact and the prospect of reform brought about major positive changes in the relationships of Central and Eastern European countries with the international community, opening up a new and enriched dialogue involving East and West, which offered real hope in place of the fear of confrontation, and practical proposals for cooperation in place of polemics and stagnation.

Such changes were not accomplished without difficulty and, as events within the former Soviet Union and other parts of Central and Eastern Europe confirmed, could give rise to new concerns about stability and security. The bold course of reforms within the Soviet Union itself led to new challenges as well as severe internal problems. Moreover the dire economic outlook and the major difficulties experienced in many of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe in managing the transition from authoritarian government and a centrally planned economy to pluralist democracy and a free market combined to make political forecasting uncertain and subject to constant revision.

Throughout this period NATO continued to play a key role, providing the framework for consultation and coordination of policies among its member countries in order to diminish the risk of crises which could impinge on common security interests. The Alliance pursued its efforts to remove military imbalances; to bring about greater openness in military matters; and to build confidence through radical, but balanced and verifiable arms control agreements, verification arrangements and increased contacts at all levels.

At the NATO's summit in Prague which took place between the 21st and the 22nd of November in 2002, was adopted the decision to invite seven new countries to join the Alliance. Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania have started negotiations with a view to adhere to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The invitations addressed to the seven new countries to join NATO, and their real chances to become in one or two years full members of this Organization, represented a "robust extension", transforming NATO from a "western European structure", into a structure covering the whole Europe, from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea and from the Atlantic to the external limits of the Community of Independent States.

It was a very important transformation, which was bringing NATO in direct contact with two zones of instability: the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. That's new situation undoubtedly influenced the future activity of NATO.

For Romania, the invitation to adhere to NATO has had a high political significance, higher than for other States invited. The reason is that for all the candidate countries to NATO, except Romania and Bulgaria, the horizon of their integration into the European Union is 2004, practically at the same moment with their accession to NATO. For Romania, joining the European Union was a longer prospective. The year 2007 was mentioned by the Romanian authorities, without having any assurance that it will be respected. That's why, for Romania, this invitation represented the only official inclusion in a key structure of the Western Democracies. At the same time, this invitation for Romania was a clear support for the continuation of the democratic process and of the economic reform in our country.

Under this circumstances which were the main consequences and priorities for Romania in the next period to come. The first priority was to concentrate, in the next three to four months, on negotiating and signing the accession documents between Romania and NATO. After their signature, a clear priority was concentrated on the ratification of these legal documents by the Parliaments of all 19 NATO Member States, permitting thus a full accession of Romania by the year 2004. The second priority was to offer the necessary resources for continuing the reform of the Romanian Army. The recommendation of NATO for candidate countries was to allot 2% of their GDP for military expenditures. From the public data appeared that Romania was the biggest contributor of the candidate countries. A third priority for Romania was to re-launch the effort for increasing the efficiency of the national policy and the national system devoted to fight against the international terrorism and the danger of proliferation of mass destruction weapons. A fourth priority for Romania was to continue to be an active participant in the Partnership for Peace Program and to devote serious diplomatic efforts for a Policy to the East, first of all for a policy devoted to developments of good relations with Russia. Last but not least, the priority of the priorities for Romania in the period to come was the acceleration of the restructuring of Romanian economy in order to arrive as soon as possible at a functioning market economy. The biggest problem for our country in the prospective of joining NATO was poverty and corruption.

In my opinion, at this moment Romania has the potential and the capacity of participating actively in the Alliance, in the military operations and its missions, but although in the initiatives and conceptual evolutions planning.

On one hand the acceptance of Romania as a member with full-fledged in the Alliance will influence positively the situation from the neighboring countries, encouraging the efforts of consolidation democracy in the region. At the same time Romania will try to improve its role in the development of relations between NATO and states from Caucaz and Central Asia, starting with good relations of cooperation with the states from that's regions.

On the other hand we can't avoid the advantages and the opportunities that's came insight, but also we can't avoid the menaces or the common risk factors to which Romania has to response with efficiency as being a member of the Alliance. The affiliation to NATO is supposing direct and indirect advantages, on a long term, which are crucial for the development of Romania as a stabile, democratic and prosper state. As a member of NATO, Romania for the first time in its history, capitalize on an extremely important security guarantee and it will participate directly at taking political decisions, essentials for Europe's security. Without doubt NATO integration implies a financial effort more reduced than the one that Romania should do for assuring security itself.

In conclusion, we can talk about a historical moment, a moment when Romania is a part of a complex and durable system of collective defending, a guarantee of security and recognizing for whole Romanian society. Although our efforts for reaching economic and social intern equilibrium don't stop here, I believe that Romania has a considerable potential for becoming politically and military a real regional leader.


"NATO Handbook" - NATO Office of Information and Press 1110, Brussels, 2001

"Romania's Accession to NATO after the Prague Summit", In Euro-Atlantic Studies, 2002 - Teodor Melescanu

"Romania vs. NATO: viziune si valori comune. Transformarea leadership-ului romanesc", Prep.univ. Silviu Nate, Universitatea "Lucian Blaga", Sibiu

The Brussels Treaty of 1948, revised in 1984, represented the first step in the post-war reconstruction of Western European security and brought into being the Western Union and the Brussels Treaty Organization. It was also the first step in the process leading to the signature of the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949 and the creation of the North Atlantic Alliance. The Brussels Treaty is the founding document of the present day Western European Union (WEU).

In 1990, with the unification of Germany, the former German Democratic Republic came under the security protection of the Alliance as an integral part of the united country.

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