Romania – Bucharest : 2015 was one of the most difficult recent years for foreign policy, due to the very convoluted political and security context in the neighborhood of both EU and NATO, the main organizations to which Romania is member.
All through the year, Romanian diplomacy acted starting from the premise that one cannot ignore that around these two organizations a genuine belt of instability has emerged, with many hotspots: from the ingressions of Russia in Ukraine and the shift in the security balance of the Black Sea region through the illegal occupation and militarization of Crimea, in the East, to the rise of the terrorism, the growing challenge of migration, the various crises and State instability, in the South.
Consequently, both NATO and the EU needed appropriate measures to counter these challenges. Romania, located on the Eastern border of the two organizations and at the connecting point with the Southern vicinity through the extended Black Sea region, considered it had a duty and responsibility of contributing to the effort of projecting stability, democracy and prosperity to this area. A duty and responsibility not only for ourselves, as a country, but also for the community of values we are part of.
These developments prompted comprehensive analyses, adjusting the strategic vision of Romanian diplomacy, which had to be pro-active so as to protect better our joint interests, to become more effective in ensuring the security of Romania, in the broad sense. This led to proposing new solutions, concepts and tools – a network of converging initiatives. I will present some of them.
At the EU level, some of Romania’s most important initiatives were connected to the review of the EU Security Strategy and of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).
For the first instrument Romania came up with concrete suggestions regarding a more balanced focus on the EU Eastern and Southern vicinities; a better engagement in the missions of the Common Security and Defence Policy; a better coordination between the EU and NATO and focus on aspects pertaining to energy and cyber security.
For the second instrument, we suggested, inter alia, the set-up of dialogue platforms on security topics in the broad sense, which we named Security Trusts. These formats were aimed at stepping up cooperation with partner States/neighbor countries and their own neighbors, as well as at engaging other actors interested in the stability of these regions. These informal platforms were designed as multi-dimensional discussion frameworks between the aforementioned actors, aimed at increasing mutual understanding, stepping up dialogue, that should lead to building trust and, as a result, to solving conflicts in the EU’s vicinity. The various players involved in these platforms would be able to identify and agree on concrete projects to improve the situation at the regional level in fields such as transport, infrastructure, trade, energy, development aid, and cross-border cooperation, by multiplying funding resources for these projects. Following the growing instability on EU borders, we need to build an area of trust and security around the ENP partners, as part of a contiguous space, from the Atlantic Ocean to the south through Northern Africa and the Middle East, towards the Eastern Vicinity. Romania proposed three such platforms: for the Black Sea region and the Caucasus; the Gulf Area and the Middle East; and one for Sub-Saharan Africa. I am glad that the 18 November 2015 Joint Communication of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and of the Commission on the ENP Review included this concept in the ENP Regional Dimension under the name of “Thematic Frameworks”.
Also at the EU level, we proposed, in a joint initiative with Germany and Bulgaria, the review of the Black Sea Synergy, which we want to revitalize. The Synergy may contribute to the development and increase in the efficiency of cooperation in the Black Sea region and between it and the EU. It is also mentioned as such in the Joint Communication.
At the NATO level, we supported the implementation of the reassurance and adaptation measures decided at the 2014 NATO Summit, as provided in the Readiness Action Plan, with concrete results by creating two NATO command and control structures in Romania. But I also suggested, at the NATO Foreign Ministers’ meeting in May in Antalya, two major conceptual initiatives: first, to prepare a strategic reflection on the importance of the Black Sea for NATO security, and second, to elaborate an integrated ‘two-legged’ NATO strategy for our Southern and Eastern neighborhoods, for supporting more effectively NATO partners in their defense capacity building efforts. Both initiatives are already under way within NATO.
Another major Romanian initiative in 2015 was the set-up of an International Court against Terrorism, aimed at preventing and sanctioning this growing phenomenon by efficiently using International Law. I have made this proposal at the EU Foreign Affairs Council in February, and we worked hard together with Spain to prepare and promote this initiative at the UN level, particularly with Security Council members and member States of the South, since this initiative responds to a challenge coming from this area, as well as with international NGOs, some of which already support the concept.
All these complementary initiatives were aimed at ensuring our national security, and the security of EU and NATO States, in the broadest sense, by contributing to the creation of a security belt to counter and replace the present instability corridor. But we need more work, as 2016 will not be an easy year as well. We need more determination, vision and focus for our community of values to be eventually safe.