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Romania Georgia: Prospects of Further Cooperation

Monday, October 12
INTERVIEW WITH MR. BOGDAN AURESCU, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR STRATEGIC AFFAIRS IN THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF ROMANIA

Q: Dear Secretary of State, at the end of your 3 days visit in Georgia, could you tell us about the results of this visit? Whom did you meet with and what topics did you discuss?

A: Bogdan Aurescu

I consider that this was a very fruitful visit to Georgia, I had the opportunity to address different audiences, from high officials of your government to students of the "Ivane Javakhisvili" State University in Tbilisi. I had meetings with General Jilles Janvier, the Deputy Chief of Mission of EUMM Mission in Georgia and with the Romanian members of this contingent working in the central office in Tbilisi, as well as in the three regional offices of the Mission: Gori, Zugdidi and Mtskheta.

During the meetings with Mr. Grigol Vashadze, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and with his deputies, Mr. Giga Bokeria and Mr. Aleksander Nalbandov, we have discussed the perspectives of the Euro-Atlantic integration of your country, the security situation in the region and the role of EUMM Mission in Georgia one year after this mission became fully operational.

I clearly pointed out that Romania is directly interested in having Georgia irreversibly anchored in the Euro-Atlantic area of stability and security. We also expressed our firm support for Georgia's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Georgia is a key partner of Romania in the wider Black Sea area. We have an excellent level of our bilateral relations, highlighted by a regular political dialogue and a fruitful collaboration in a wide range of fields. During this visit, we have expressed our readiness for intensifying the dialogue at all levels.

On the practical level of cooperation, we are interested in strengthening and diversifying the relationship between the two Ministries of Foreign Affairs. In this respect, we have decided to initiate a mechanism for bilateral consultations on security issues at and we reiterated our offer to organize, for a Georgian diplomat, an internship program lasting for one month, within the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This program could be focused on EU and NATO integration issues.

I mentioned before that I visited the EUMM Mission in Georgia, being in fact, the first Romanian dignitary who did this. Within EUMM Georgia, Romania has one of the most important contribution (20 monitors in the field and one representative within Brussels Support Element), ranking at the 5th place in terms of personnel. And we are determined to maintain a substantial contribution.

Q: When will Georgia become a member of NATO?

A: Bogdan Aurescu

I am convinced that this is a question which occurs frequently in the minds of your fellow citizens and also represents a matter of great interest for your political leaders.

Let us remember that in April 2008, my country had the honor and the privilege of hosting in Bucharest the largest Summit in the history of the Alliance.

But, for Georgia, it was of utmost importance the fact that Allies agreed, in Bucharest, that Georgia will become a member of NATO, pending on the fulfillment of specific criteria. Not a question of "if but "when".

Romania found quite innovative the stance of the North Atlantic Council regarding the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of Georgia and Ukraine. Both countries have to make tremendous reform efforts.

Romania knows very well, from its own experience, how difficult this reform process is. At the same time we know the importance of the right incentive for maximizing these efforts. Therefore, Romania supports the option of using NATO-Georgia Commission as the appropriate framework for assessing and helping the reform paths.

And I can assure you that Romania continues to be one of the strongest supporters of the perspective of Georgia's Euro-Atlantic integration.

Q: We have learned about the process of elaborating the New Strategic Concept of NATO. Could you please elaborate on this process? Do you think the Partner Countries have a role in this process?

A: Bogdan Aurescu

Your question proves once more that there is a genuine interest of the public opinion in your country on NATO issues.

The Declaration on Alliance Security, document adopted by the Heads of State and Government in Strasbourg-Kehl, on April 4, 2009, triggered the process of renewal of NATO's Strategic Concept, with the aim of strengthening security for all in the Euro-Atlantic area.

I believe for Georgia it is important that the Allied leaders reaffirmed that NATO's door will remain open to all European democracies which share the values of the Alliance, which are willing and able to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership, and whose inclusion can contribute to common security and stability. The Declaration also highlights the success of NATO enlargement and the contribution of this process to reuniting Europe. And this is an idea that most probably will be included in the New Strategic Concept.

Before going into the substance, I would like to underscore that many of the items in the 1999 Strategic Concept are still valid and should be preserved and developed within the New Concept. Thus, fundamental principles underlying the functioning of the Alliance and which are essential ingredients of the current Strategic Concept - the collective defense, based on the Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, the importance of partnerships, the focus on Allied solidarity and equitable burden-sharing, the transatlantic solidarity are imperatives of the NATO acquis. But they require constant adjustments to the evolving security environment in order to be properly translated into effective (practical) actions.

As we speak, the discussions on upgrading Alliance's Strategic Concept have already begun in Allied capitals. The need for a New Concept is undebatable. NATO has to update its functions to the new realities of the strategic environment. In this respect, the drivers for change are defined by: the 9/11-2001 terrorist attacks; NATO's enlargement to 28 member states compared to "NATO at 16" in 1999, when the current Strategic Concept was adopted; the developments in NATO-Russia relations; NATO assuming a specific role in areas such as fighting piracy, cyber defence, energy security etc. A sound transatlantic consensus on a new NATO strategy is an indispensable element of the Alliance's strategic adaptation.

NATO needs to rethink the role it could and should assume in the 3rd Millennium in order to efficiently update its vision, level of ambition, as well as necessary structure and forces. The process of upgrading the Strategic Concept will be a major exercise and it will involve both Allies and Partners. And we think a timely one. Since the last Strategic Concept was adopted, 10 years ago, NATO has almost doubled in size and taken on missions and threats no one could have imagined at the time.

Furthermore, the process should be transparent and connect other key international actors such as the EU and UN, as well as other NATO interlocutors, like NGOs. Finally, an interactive dialogue with the broader public is encouraged, and I can only hope that the interest of your public opinion will remain as vivid as today.

Q: What are the perspectives of the bilateral cooperation between Georgia and Romania?

A: Bogdan Aurescu

Georgia is and will remain a priority for Romania in terms of development assistance. In order to efficiently use these funds, we encouraged the Georgian side to inform us on the domains and projects of interest that can benefit of the funding Romania can provide. Among the concrete projects which are under way, I mention the humanitarian aid to Georgia after the conflict in August 2008, meaning 150 000 Euro from the budget of Official Development Assistance (ODA) and an additional amount of 1.3 millions of Euro from the Romanian Government's Reserve Fund.

But what I think is more important, we have the possibility to share with the Georgian side our experience gained during the transition period (internal reforms, privatization, implementing European standards etc.), as well as to provide technical assistance (sending experts, providing internships, scholarships etc.).