POLITICS

President Basescu says Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement brings Romania highest security

US President Barack Obama congratulated Romanian head of state on the U.S.-Romania Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership for the 21st Century.

President Traian Basescu stated yesterday, after his return from the US visit, that the Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement (including the decision to select the Deveselu air base) is the first document mentioning the strategic partnership between Romania and the US. ‘It is a document stating the strategic partnership on long term,’ he said during a press conference at Henri Coanda Airport. ‘The ballistic missile defense system guarantees Romania the highest security level in its history,’ he said.

“The agreement contains nothing secret. I want to dismiss any speculation that this agreement may have any secret clauses. I hope we can agree with the U.S. Department of State shortly and make the agreement public both in Romania and in the USA,” said Basescu. He hopes to convince the State Department to make it public in both Romania and the US in the next ten days.

The president further noted that the agreement would need to be ratified by the Romanian Parliament. The strategic partnership launched during President Bill Clinton’s visit to Bucharest in 1997 had never been transposed into a Romanian-American bilateral document.

On the other hand, Basescu explained that Secretary of State Bogdan Aurescu had acted under a mandate written and approved by him for concluding the ballistic agreement.

Obama-Basescu meeting

The scenario of the Basescu-Obama talks, kept a secret until the very last moment by the Presidential Administration, is explained by a White House release also disclosing the topics addressed by the two heads of state. All meetings on Tuesday took place after the closure of our yesterday edition.

According to a White House release, President Obama joined a meeting between Vice President Biden and President of Romania Traian Basescu in the Roosevelt Room. The President also invited President Basescu into the Oval Office along with the Vice President.

‘The President noted the close alliance between the United States and Romania, and thanked President Basescu for his strong partnership. The President congratulated President Basescu on the U.S.-Romania Ballistic Missile Defence Agreement, which exemplifies the President’s commitment to strengthening NATO and ensuring allies have the capabilities to meet 21st century threats. The President also congratulated President Basescu on the U.S.-Romania Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership for the 21st Century. Both of these documents were completed during the visit of President Basescu,’ the release reads.

The US President thanked President Basescu for his leadership in NATO as the Alliance prepares for the Chicago NATO Summit in May 2012, and expressed appreciation for the sacrifices that Romanian soldiers have made in our common effort in Afghanistan and elsewhere. He thanked President Basescu for Romania’s critical contributions to the ISAF mission.

The President and President Basescu discussed the important role that Romania can play in supporting and advancing democracy, both in Europe and in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring.

Vice President Biden welcomed the strengthening of the U.S.-Romania strategic partnership as follow up to the discussions he held with President Basescu during his visit to Bucharest in October 2009. The Vice President and President Basescu also discussed ongoing political and economic reforms in Romania, and our shared goal of encouraging stability in the Balkans. They also discussed their strong concerns about the situation in Syria and agreed to consult closely going forward, the release concludes. The meeting was not included in Traian Basescu’s Washington visit programme or in President Barack Obama’s official agenda for the day, realitatea.net notes. As shown by the photographs provided by the Presidential Administration, the other participants in the talks were Defence Minister Gabriel Oprea, Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi, and State Secretary Bogdan Aurescu. The Obama-Basescu dialogue however happened in a more exclusive formula, only attended by Vice-President Joe Biden.

A critical step

After his talks with Vice-President Biden which followed the meeting with President Obama, Basescu was present for the signing by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and FM Teodor Baconschi of the agreement on the hosting on the Romanian territory of terrestrial elements of the US ballistic missile defence system.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, after the signing, addressing the media, that ‘thanks to the diligent work of our negotiating teams and the personal commitment of President Basescu and President Obama, the foreign minister and I have just signed the U.S.-Romanian Ballistic Missile Defence Agreement. This represents a critical step in implementing the Phased Adaptive Approach to missile defence in Europe,’ a US State Department release informs.
Clinton also said the proliferation of ballistic missiles that are more lethal, more accurate, and can cover greater distances poses a growing threat to the people and security of both Europe and the United States. ‘Our governments worked closely together to select Deveselu Air Base in Romania to host a ballistic missile defence system, and the agreement we have just signed will position Romania as a central player in NATO’s evolving missile defence capability,’ the US Secretary of State said.

‘Once the agreement is ratified, the United States will build, maintain, and operate in Romania the land-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence System, a system we have assiduously tested and have proven effective over the last decade, and which will help protect the entire continent and augment the security of the United States. With the support of the Romanian parliament and people, we anticipate deploying the completed system as part of the second phase of European missile defence in approximately four years.’

In his turn, FM Teodor Baconschi said the agreement ‘also sets a new stage in our relation, confirming that our strategic partnership has broadened and deepened. The provisions of the agreement allow for the establishment of the territory – on the territory for Romania of elements of the U.S.-European phased adaptive approach to missile defence. This is an integral part of the effort to implement the decision NATO took last November in Lisbon.’

Nato Secretary General welcomes the signing

‘I welcome the signing of the agreement under which the United States will deploy anti-missile interceptors in Romania. The deployment of these defensive interceptors will be an important element of NATO’s missile defence capability, which was agreed at the Lisbon summit last November, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a release. ‘This agreement represents another critical step in the Alliance’s effort to defend against current and emerging ballistic missile threats. The interceptors in Romania will significantly contribute to NATO’s capability to provide protection to its European territory, populations and forces against the growing threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles.’

Russian Foreign Ministry – convincing safeguards necessary

‘This event makes even more actual the need to obtain from the US and NATO constraining safeguards attesting to the fact that the anti-missile systems to be deployed in Europe will not be targeted at the Russian strategic nuclear forces. It is equally necessary to assign to the Russia-NATO the task to develop concrete decisions on the objectives and architecture of the ballistic missile defence system currently under implementation in the region,’ reads a Russian Foreign Ministry release cited by RIA Novosti and Mediafax.

‘Missile defence deal could lead to arms race,’ french analyst says

With Washington and Bucharest striking a deal to build elements of a European anti-missile defence shield in Romania, some observers are suggesting the agreement is more a political move than a military necessity.

‘No one really believed that there was a possibility of Iran attacking Europe – its missiles could not reach Western Europe’, Pierre Guerlain, a professor at Paris West University, told Russia Today. ‘Washington probably wants to reassure the former satellite countries of the Soviet Union. So this is a political move – hardly a military necessity.’ ‘It is a way of antagonizing Russia, which is going to turn into, maybe, some kind of new arms race, which is totally pointless’, he said.

Basescu wants his American visit to be historic

On Tuesday, President Basescu also met with US Vice-President Joe Biden, CIA head David Petraeus and Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta.

The president also saw the members of the Romania Friendship Group in the US Congress, noting that his visit to the United States would be recorded by history as the moment when the Ballistic Missile Defence System Agreement was signed, Mediafax reports.

All measures taken not to have visit ruined by commentators back home…

At his meeting with members of the Romanian community in the US, President Basescu said his visit to Washington was ‘a good and well secured thing, to prevent it from being damaged by the media,’ also adding that he had taken ‘all measures not to have his visit ruined by commentators back home’.

Basescu recounted how he had asked the American President, at the White House, what Romania could do for his country and how Obama answered him: ‘The laws should be enforced and the justice system should function’. In a short conversation at the beginning of the talks in Washington, on Tuesday, Vice-President Joe Biden told Basescu he looked ‘good’ and ‘healthy’ and Basescu answered, laughing: ‘I am healthy’.

Extended cooperation set by Strategic Partnership

The Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership for the 21st Century between the USA and Romania sets new targets and partnerships.

The release underlines that ‘in pursuit of a common vision of broader and deeper United States – Romania Strategic Partnership, the United States and Romania have identified the following areas for strengthened cooperation: – The U.S. missile defense system and NATO missile defense capability, recognizing that this system contributes to the defense of the United States and Romania and NATO European Allies and enhances regional stability; – Disarmament, non-proliferation, and arms control; – Combating terrorism, and addressing other emerging risks and threats including by enhancing information sharing; – Cooperation within NATO, including improved interoperability and cooperation in the field of defense equipment and related materiel; – Regional cooperation and stability, including in Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans, including by improving NATO-EU cooperation, enhancing Euro-Atlantic institutions, and seeking solutions to protracted conflicts; – Trade and investment, including facilitating contacts between business communities, while reaffirming our commitment to market principles, rule of law, a sound business environment, transparency, and public integrity; – Energy security, including ensuring diversified sources and transport routes such as the Southern Corridor, developing smart grids, researching unconventional sources of energy, including shale gas, and pursuing alternative sources of clean energy and liberalizing of markets to attract new investment to the energy sector; – Democracy and rule of law, human rights, and good governance, including by firmly supporting these values in the region, the release reads.

Liberal Antonescu says Basescu didn’t have official talks with Obama

Liberal president Crin Antonescu commented on Wednesday on President’s Traian Basescu’s visit to the US and the meeting with US President Barack Obama and Vice-president Joe Biden. ‘From the representation point of view, I believe the Romanian head of state didn’t have, as it should  – having in view the documents signed – a confirmed official meeting with his American counterpart,’ Antonescu said, quoted by Mediafax. On the other hand the PNL leader said the ‘secrecy’ displayed with ‘pride’ by Traian Basescu is unnatural. Antonescu stressed his party is supporting the documents signed in Washington, but maintains more transparency is needed. When Romania concludes such important agreements, this thing must be done with ‘maximum transparency possible,’ he said.

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