The meeting of the NATO foreign ministers to be hosted by Romania on November 29 and 30 “will once again prove the unity and solidarity of the allies and will look for solutions to counter the effects of Russia’s brutal war of aggression of against Ukraine,” Romania’s Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu said on Thursday.
In a video message before the event, Aurescu said that this will be the first high-level NATO meeting to be hosted by Romania after the 2008 NATO Summit.
It is also the first event that takes place in a country on the Eastern flank of NATO after the start of Russia’s war against Ukraine.
According to Aurescu, the NATO ministerial meeting in Bucharest is “a very relevant meeting that confirms Romania’s role and profile in the North Atlantic Alliance and, at the same time, indicates the strategic importance of the Black Sea to Euro-Atlantic security, and therefore also to Romania.”
He added that it is also about a symbolic moment, two decades after Romania was invited to join NATO.
Aurescu added that Romania will also host the Munich Leaders Meeting on November 28 and 29, a fact that underlines “the importance and key role of Romania, at the intersection of two areas of strategic importance for European, Euro-Atlantic and global security: the Black Sea and the Western Balkans”.
“For three days, between November 28 and 30, Bucharest will be the diplomatic, European and Euro-Atlantic capital,” said Aurescu.
Cristian Diaconescu: Security and stability of Romania stands to gain from the organization in Bucharest of the meeting of heads of diplomacy of NATO member countries
The security and stability of Romania stands to gain from the organization in Bucharest of the meeting of heads of diplomacy of NATO member countries, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Cristian Diaconescu told Agerpres on Thursday.
Diaconescu expressed his hope that the reaction and determination of the Alliance states and those participating in this project will be “uniform” regarding the approach to the Eastern Flank from north to south, from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.
He said that the invitation to the meeting in Bucharest of countries such as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Georgia, Finland, Sweden and Bosnia and Herzegovina was “certainly” a criterion in the choice of participants in the event, in the context of the war in Ukraine.
The former head of Romanian diplomacy believes that the European Union “is the one called” to have solutions regarding the “dramatic” situation from the energy point of view in which Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova are.
Referring to the possible developments of the frozen conflict in Transnistria, in the event of a victory, either of Ukraine or of Russia, he showed that an unwanted victory of the Russian Federation would generate “a precedent with consequences that are difficult to assess” and added that any peace initiative must be initiated by the Ukrainian state.
According to him, following the organization in Bucharest of the meeting of NATO Foreign Affairs Ministers, in the context of the war in Ukraine, Romania can obtain “confirmation of solidarity, of cohesion”.
Cristian Diaconescu voiced his hope that at this meeting “there will be, from the point of view of the reaction and determination of the NATO states and those participating in this project, a uniformity regarding the approach to the Eastern Flank from north to south, from the Sea Baltic Sea to the Black Sea”.
“So, a uniform decision of the North Atlantic Alliance regarding the forward presence of NATO and the categorical decision of the member states regarding the signal they send abroad related to the determination to defend the Eastern Flank. It is as important as possible in relation to the message that will be received by Moscow as well, from this perspective,” stated Cristian Diaconescu.
Cristian Parvulescu: NATO ministerial meeting in Bucharest, a recognition of the role played by Romania in this part of Europe
The meeting in Bucharest of the foreign affairs ministries from the NATO member states, which is the first of such importance since the North Atlantic Alliance Summit in 2008, represents a recognition of the role Romania plays in this part of Europe, political scientist Cristian Pirvulescu told AGERPRES.
“It is of crucial importance. This is a recognition of the role Romania has been playing in this part of Europe. This will not only be symbolic, for we already know now how important was the meeting in 2008, because of everything that happened later, including the war in Ukraine, considering the positions that were stated there, both by the NATO partners and by Vladimir Putin, who was, at that time, carrying out his second term in office as the President of Russia. Now, this meeting confirms Romania’s status, which is unique in this area, of a pillar of NATO and, obviously, not just in military but also in political terms, we do needed to emphasize this. At the same time, the meeting sends a message to the citizens of Romania in respect to the role played by our country in this organization, which is of a major importance as I believe that everybody understands it now,” stated Professor Cristian Pirvulescu.
He also hailed the participation in the meeting in Bucharest of countries such as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Georgia, Finland, Sweden and Bosnia and Herzegovina, some of which have already expressed their desire to become part of the North Atlantic Alliance, which represented a criterion in the choice of participants at the event.
“Certainly, yes, because the states that are closer to Russia geographically feel in danger right now – Finland has already submitted an official request with NATO, although, for now, it is being blocked by Hungary and Turkey, not coincidentally both countries being in a special relationship with Russia. For the other countries, Georgia and Ukraine, it is a vital signal, these countries would like to, but the geopolitical context makes their accession unlikely, and what is happening in the Western Balkans, not only in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also in Kosovo or in Montenegro, shows how important this area is for maintaining stability. So the invitation of these states has a geopolitical significance, it is a signal sent to Moscow and, indirectly, to its partners in the area who are interested in destabilizing the situation in the Balkans,” explained the political scientist.
Regarding the energy security, one of the topics of discussion at the ministerial meeting, Cristian Pirvulescu showed that NATO does not have many political and economic solutions, but it provides military protection, which is essential when it comes to securing members’ access to energy resources.
“This topic has already been discussed in Madrid. NATO doesn’t have very many political and economic solutions, while it does provide military protection, which is essential when it comes to securing members’ access to the necessary energy resources. This is a change in the strategy of the member states in the European Union and in NATO, but especially of those in the EU, in what concerns the energy resources and the energy security. Having this on the agenda is very important. We are all aware of the importance of this topic. The discussions will propose different types of solutions. In what concerns the Republic of Moldova, as you well know, there was a donors conference held in Paris, where they tried to solve the current crisis. But the strategic problem remains and it can also be approached at the level of NATO, provided that the member states all agree, which is hard to believe will happen, because Hungary or Turkey have not only geostrategic interests, but also energy interests different from the other states,” stated Cristian Pirvulescu.
Asked whether a war in which Ukraine emerges victorious can mean the resolution of the Transnistrian problem, a frozen conflict that has lasted for over 30 years, or, if the war ends in favour of Russia, we will have two frozen conflicts, Professor Pirvulescu said that this depends on how the war will end.
“It depends on how the war will end. The first hypothesis you proposed is that of a Ukrainian victory, which is possible but still uncertain. Ukraine is trying to take advantage of the tactical advantages it has by knowing the territory, in order to have a position of strength in the peace negotiations. And, yes, a victory for Ukraine will probably also mean the beginning of a solution to the Transnistrian conflict. It depends on how serious Russia’s situation will be. Because Russia will try to maintain all frozen conflicts. In case of an improbable Russian victory – a victory on the ground, a military victory – then the geostrategic situation becomes very complicated, because Russia is an advocate for a new world order, which it will try to impose by force. But it does not have the world’s support. China is not interested in a new world order. The current world order is satisfactory to China because it has become a superpower in the new bipolarity that Biden and Xi Jinping announced in Bali,” said Cristian Pirvulescu.
Regarding the discussion of a possible peace initiative and the role that Romania can play in this sense, the political analyst specified that it is not the problem of the NATO states to initiate peace talks.
“It is obvious that Romania is not an important diplomatic actor in this conflict, but I think that it is not the problem of the NATO states to initiate peace talks. It is the problem of the Ukrainian authorities who will determine when and how, and the NATO states will ensure, as they did until now, all the necessary support,” stated Pirvulescu.
The politologist also said that, at the end of the meeting in Bucharest, in the context of the war in Ukraine, Romania can obtain “a much more important position within NATO, a recognition of the role our country has here and a strengthening of its military capabilities in the medium term, not only of Romania, but also of the partners present here.”
Cioroianu: Bucharest NATO ministerial, a new confirmation of Romania’s position, of the stability and predictability of Romanian diplomacy
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs Adrian Cioroianu believes that the upcoming meeting of the heads of diplomacy from NATO member states represents the most important event of recent years, the meeting providing the opportunity for a new confirmation of Romania’s position, of the stability and predictability of Romanian diplomacy.
“It is probably the most important event of many years so far and the presence of the foreign ministers and the topics that will be discussed, without a doubt, are directly related to the crisis situation in Ukraine, following the Russian aggression. I think that Romania’s role is also emphasised by its position as a neighbour that supported the Western world’s sanctions against Russia, as a country that supported Ukraine in the first place, including through the large number of refugees it took in. I think there will be substantive discussions and a good opportunity for allies to harmonize their positions, especially since practically every day brings something new. We have seen in this crisis from missiles falling on the territory of third countries to various protocol incidents, such as the one that the Polish Prime Minister went through, or Prime Minister Orban’s scarf,” Adrian Cioroianu declared for AGERPRES.
In his opinion, the invitation to the Bucharest meeting of countries such as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Georgia, Finland, Sweden and Bosnia and Herzegovina, some of which expressed their desire to be part of the North Atlantic Alliance, was based on “very well weighed reasons”.
“Certainly, these invitations are based on very well-considered reasons and, in the last instance, it is about countries that, for the most part, they themselves want to increase their security. Or, at the moment, the NATO Alliance is the best guarantee of security, given the turbulent times we are witnessing and the unpredictable behaviour of countries like Russia, which are also members of the Security Council and which have violated all international norms. So, inviting these countries is in their interest as well as in the interest of security and the strategic plans of the Alliance as such,” Cioroianu added.
The former foreign minister believes that we are facing a multi-layered crisis, from the energy crisis to the food, climate or political crisis, and although NATO does not have a “magic solution”, a common strategy in approach can only be to our advantage.
“There are no miracle solutions, especially since we are witnessing a multi-layered crisis. There is indeed an energy crisis, but it is superimposed on a food crisis, as we saw with the blocking of those Ukrainian grain exports for many months, a climate crisis, equally, because in Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, but also in our country and in many other countries, it was a rather dry year. We are also witnessing a political crisis, we see what is happening in the Republic of Moldova, in the present moment, or in countries of the Alliance, such as Italy, the result of some elections, sometimes surprising, in some countries of the Alliance, or in Great Britain, if we refer to the political crisis it went through. So, we see that it is a crisis on several levels, and NATO, of course, does not have a magic solution for any of them, but, on the other hand, a common strategy in approaching them can only be to our advantage. And, always, the solution is easier to find when several people exchange opinions and propose ideas. Any talk on this topic is a step in the good direction,” Cioroianu pointed out.
Adrian Cioroianu believes that solving the Transnistrian problem is a decision of the Republic of Moldova, assuming the agreement of this state, no matter what happens, following the war in Ukraine, but things will be clearer after an armistice is agreed.
“It’s hard to say, for now, because, definitively, it’s a decision of the Republic of Moldova, no matter what happens, this presupposes, mainly, the agreement of the Republic of Moldova. For now, all the states that will be present at these discussions support the territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova, but, on the other hand, this conflict, which, for the time being, we do not know how it will end, we do not know what a victory for one of the parties could mean. The conflict is ongoing at the time we speak and it is clear that this will change something of the rather precarious balance in the east of the Republic of Moldova and we will ultimately see what will happen. But things will be clearer after an armistice is agreed upon. Unfortunately, when will that happen it’s hard to guess now,” the historian opined.
The former minister mentioned that, before the recent G20 meeting, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, was “presented” with a possible plan to open discussions with a view to an armistice.
“Things have already been public for a few days now. We don’t know the country that submitted them, but probably that plan for discussions with a view to the armistice was the result of the collaboration of several states, most probably including Western states. In the last ditch, we used especially the word armistice and not peace, because now the essential thing would be to stop the hostilities and destruction in Ukraine. Peace is a bit more distant horizon, but at least an armistice would lead to the saving of human lives on both sides. This is clear. Regarding the role that Romania could play here, of course, in the end, nothing is impossible, but, equally, Romania cannot propose itself as a mediator, because, obviously, we have been the partisans of Ukraine until now. So we cannot propose ourselves as mediators and we cannot be mediators between Ukraine and Russia as long as we chose to support Ukraine and condemn Russia, but our role could intervene later, in a reconstruction of Ukraine, to which, for sure, many European countries will contribute, and we, through the position we have, will be a part of this effort to reconstruct the neighbouring country,” Cioroianu elaborated.
He stressed that the organization of the Bucharest meeting will represent “a confirmation of our position, of the stability and predictability of the Romanian diplomacy”.
“In our country, diplomacy has been criticized quite often, but what some of us find more difficult to accept is the fact that diplomacy is not always visible. That is, diplomacy does not have to be spectacular, diplomacy has to be effective. Or, from this point of view, knowing the system from the inside, I am convinced that, despite all the criticisms, our diplomacy remains quite effective. Of course, we should not brag now and talk about the organization of this summit as being due to the attraction that, definitely, Romania would exercise. There were also reasons regarding the choice of our country, but I think that, on the other hand, Romania also offers the landscape of a country that, equally, behaves like a good member of the European Union, but also as a reliable partner of the North Atlantic Alliance and as a partner of the United States in the area. It is a characteristic. Like it or not, it is something that cannot be denied. And I think that what Romania clearly gains these days is the confirmation of the efforts we made in foreshadowing this predictability. I think that no one has any doubts about Romania’s behaviour and that is the basis of seriousness in diplomacy, predictability, so that your allies know what they can expect from you,” the former head of Romanian diplomacy said.
Cioroianu expressed his hope that any incidents would not occur during the smooth running of the meeting.
“Let’s hope we don’t have incidents. Of course incidents can happen, whether provoked or not, but let’s hope we don’t. I’m also thinking about the possibility of cyber attacks these days … There’s a lot of bullying going on nowadays. I saw what happened recently in the Czech Republic, in other countries. I am afraid of these things, otherwise I am convinced that the organization will be very good. We already have a tradition in organizing such meetings and I think that its scale, even if it is, as I said, without precedent in recent years, on the other hand, the simple presence of important people, from Antony Blinken to all the others, today gives more weight to the meeting and, I repeat, I am convinced that there will be substantial discussions,” Adrian Cioroianu concluded.
Radu Magdin: A success of Romanian diplomacy, coming both in a difficult context in the region, and in the continuation of the Madrid Summit
The political analyst Radu Magdin asserts that the holding, for the first time, in Bucharest, of the meeting of the ministers of Foreign Affairs from the NATO member countries, represents a success of Romanian diplomacy, coming both in a difficult context in the region, and in the continuation of the Madrid Summit, where Romania has achieved a series of important successes, especially in terms of consolidating the profile of the Black Sea in the architecture of decisions and the focus of the North Atlantic Alliance.
“It is, at the same time, the signal that the Alliance had to send in connection with the strong commitment and the attention it paid to the Black Sea region. At the same time, the organization of this meeting in Bucharest also shows in which direction the Alliance’s concerns are heading. And here I must mention that, unfortunately, I returned to concerns about the East, after a few years ago the Alliance began to orient itself more towards the South and the Indo-Pacific. Besides the fact that this meeting comes in an opportune moment, it still carries a natural nuance: Romania is a dedicated NATO member, our country has concentrated, in recent years, a great diversity of foreign troops, military equipment and significant contributions to the strategic reflection processes at the level of the Alliance,” the foreign policy analyst told Agerpres.
Radu Magdin believes that Romania’s effort for “stability, resilience, increasing capabilities and regional cooperation” must go on.
“At the same time, it is obvious that this meeting should not be interpreted as a culmination of our engagement efforts; rather, we should realize that we have earned enough trust, including through the way we have handled the security challenges in the region so far, as it should happen here. Romania’s effort for stability, resilience, capabilities’ enhancement and regional cooperation must continue. Romania is now a credible actor within the Alliance and continues to make efforts to modernize the armed forces in all aspects. We have been and we can still remain one of the countries with a very high degree of commitment, which is important in a context where the whole region is under pressure,” he emphasized.
As for the invitation to the meeting of countries such as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Georgia, Finland, Sweden and Bosnia and Herzegovina, some of which have expressed their desire to join NATO, the political analyst believes that it was able or not be a criterion in the choice of participants to the event, in the context of the war in the vicinity of the Eastern Flank.
“The answers are both yes and no. No, because the Alliance has evolved towards a model in which it no longer works only with member states and a few privileged partners, but engages with all countries relevant to NATO security and, in this respect, all the neighbouring countries of the Alliance are important and must be caught in a framework of cooperation and dialogue. At the same time, I am convinced that the invitation of certain states is not only about giving political signals, but also about the effective agenda of the discussions. Yes, because, regardless of when will these states be able to join the Alliance or what political currents will split, there are dimensions of cooperation and dialogue that can be manifested even without membership. For example, I note the fact that the Republic of Moldova, a neutral state, which has not participated in such meetings in the past and which has not expressed the intention of joining NATO, is among the guests, including as a very vulnerable state in the region, in which the allied powers invest in support for resilience,” Radu Magdin explained.
From these two perspectives, says the analyst, we can see how much NATO has evolved in the last 20 years, when Romania was just taking the first steps towards the Alliance and we were in the middle of the “war on terror”, until now, when it acts democratically, inclusively, comprehensively, NATO expanding its area of collective action and areas addressed, but also through the countries with which it cooperates, in order to give peace and security as much a chance as possible.
Radu Magdin noted that, although it has a limited mandate in terms of infrastructure and project development, against the background of the hybrid war, NATO’s evolution also went in the direction of exploring energy-related technologies, which can ensure a higher degree of resilience for its North Atlantic Alliance’s members.
“On the one hand, the threats to a country’s energy security are part of the hybrid war instruments, which both Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova face. Hybrid war, like classic war, is part of NATO’s area of concern. On this note, I find that NATO’s evolution has also gone in the direction of exploring energy-related technologies, which can ensure a higher degree of resilience for the members of the Alliance. Of course, this does not mean that NATO is starting to deal with nuclear power plants, but there are a number of technologies and partnerships that can emerge from a cooperation initiated within NATO. On the other hand, the stability of a region, resilience to shocks, the protection of energy transport routes are part, I could say, of NATO’s central mandate and, of course, in order to bring energy resources into a conflict or even contested space, it is important to mobilize to ensure the safety of the infrastructure and the means of using the energy. At the same time, we must not lose sight of the fact that NATO’s mandate is limited in terms of infrastructure and project development, so here NATO comes to work in a complementary way with bilateral and multilateral efforts, including under the umbrella of the EU,” Magdin elaborated.
The foreign policy analyst also says that a discussion and a possible peace initiative following the meeting “does not depend only on Romania”.
“Romania already plays an important role in ensuring security and stability in the region, on NATO’s Eastern Flank, where the situation is critical. Romania’s efforts are major, including at the political level, but this type of effort to facilitate and bring to the table of discussions are things that happen daily, at different levels, in the EU and NATO formats. So, Romania can try a number of things, the success of which, however, does not depend only on Romania. Moreover, the way of decision-making at the NATO level does not reserve a country’s ability to decisively influence an agreement or a solution of this level of commitment. We will certainly have, in the next period, more details regarding the agenda of the meeting in Bucharest, a meeting which, again, is a success in itself for Romania,” he pointed out.
As for a possible solution or to the continuation of the “freezing” of the Transnistrian issue, under the conditions of the end of the war in Ukraine, Radu Magdin believes that it is unclear whether a military solution can really solve the current problems.
“It is very difficult to say. It is unclear even if a military solution can really solve the current problems, and the most likely answer would be no anyway, I don’t think a military victory in Ukraine automatically guarantees a solution to the situation in Transnistria, but only, at most, a flexibility of the Russian Federation and that in an ideal scenario. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that even if the Russian army were to withdraw from both the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, the separatist and occupied provinces would suffer months and years of ideological bombardment and Russian propaganda, which would further undermine the chances of reintegration, as the situation showed after the fall of the USSR. On the other hand, now we can all see the state Russia is in, and former separatists now probably want a living standard similar to that of the EU rather than that of Russia, but that will not be enough to make them immediately model leaders and not wish to make a discordant note anymore,” Magdin said.
He added that “the answer is therefore complicated”.
“A military victory would certainly help in the direction of the reconstruction, respectively the stabilization of the two countries, which would finally have full sovereignty over the entire territory. But the problem of the populations trapped in the occupied and secessionist territories is, in most cases, one multi-generational,” the political analyst added.
Romania’s objectives are, as stated by Radu Magdin, to strengthen its capacities, including the resources of political influence, to further consolidate the presence of allied troops in the country, including in line with the decisions of the Madrid Summit, and to reach a position from which, at the regional level, it can support peace and stabilization efforts.
“We have come an important way, from a point where we were satisfied that the country had no internal conflicts, on the borders, and that we had an army prepared enough to enter NATO, to the present, when we have modern means, we are starting to play a real role in regional stability and there is Romanian thinking in the Alliance. And this is not a small amount in 20-25 years of efforts. From a broader perspective, it is very important for Romania that NATO’s attention and, in addition, of the European Union to remain focused on the Eastern Flank, so that all participating countries engage in a sustainable path of commitments for the consolidation of military capabilities, for cooperation with the eastern neighbourhood, but also for the consolidation of the gains, if we may say so, during the crisis: independence from Russia’s energy resources, decreasing the importance of the Russian market and, as far as possible, gaining autonomy related to other types of resources in conflict zones. The war in Ukraine demonstrated that we must have both internal means and reliable external partners,” the foreign policy analyst Radu Magdin concluded.
Compiled from Agerpres