Select Committee on Defence Written Evidence

Memorandum from the Romanian Embassy


  The end of the Cold War determined NATO to fundamentally revise its mission and structure. The disappearance of the common enemy—the Soviet threat—raised the voices questioning the continuing NATO legitimacy. The Alliance managed to contradict these voices, keeping its relevance through a process of constant adaptation to the changes that have occurred in the international security environment.

  Conceived as a collective defense organization, the Alliance has progressively extended its field of action, becoming a complex institution, with a strong voice at global level, both militarily and politically. Besides continuing to stay the alliance based on collective defense against an attack on the territory of the member states, NATO gradually acquired a new mission, that of a security organization tailored to deal, through crisis management, with a multitude of threats, from any direction.

  The membership of NATO, obtained in 2004 (after receiving the invitation to join the Alliance at the NATO Prague Summit in 2002), represents the cornerstone of the Romanian security policy. Romania is fully supporting the modernisation process of the Alliance, in order to give NATO the adapted instruments to respond to new security challenges as well as to take advantage of the new opportunities.


  Since the end of the Cold War and more intensively after the 9/11 attacks against the US, NATO has extended progressively, but firmly, its area of action, both functionally and geographically. There were changes at doctrinal and conceptual level and new capabilities have been created or are being developed. The Alliance that in 1949 defended the territory of 12 member states conducts today six operations and missions on three different continents and is an important actor in areas such as security sector reform or military training.

  The geographical extension of NATO's mission makes clear that the Alliance is not anymore suited just for its political and military tasks as they are phrased in the Treaty of Washington, but that has also a special responsibility in projecting stability far beyond the Euro-Atlantic area.

  Politically, this has materialized in:

    —  Intensifying the relations with the states from the ex-soviet space—creating a Joint Permanent Council NATO—Russia (1997), followed by the creation of the NATO -Russia Council (2002), as well as the setting up of a Distinctive Partnership with Ukraine (NATO—Ukraine Commission, 1997), establishing an Intensified Dialogue with Ukraine and Georgia, deepening the relations with the other states in the Caucasus and Central Asia, including by developing Individual Action Plans of the Partnership, diversifying progressively the Partnership instruments and mechanisms, so that this program corresponds to the needs of all partner states, according to the basic principles of PfP—inclusiveness and self—differentiation.

    —  Developing the relations with states in the Mediterranean Sea and the broader Middle East, by launching the NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue (1994) and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (2004).

    —  Initiating a profound reform of partnership relations and expressing, at the Riga Summit, the availability of developing the dialogue and cooperation with third states that can contribute to fulfilling the allied objectives and missions, independent of the geographical location of these states.

  Strategically, it has materialized in:

    —  Enhancing the expeditionary character of NATO forces and focusing the allied efforts on developing the capability for missions and operations on the allied territory, at its periphery and at strategic distance.

    —  Developing new initiatives and projects helping to the enhancement of capabilities essentials for deploying, sustaining and acting in remote theatres of operations with or without host nation support—strategic airlift, special operations.

  Operationally, it has materialized in:

    —  The taking over of ISAF in Afghanistan (2003), at present the biggest and most complex operation of NATO, complemented by establishing a cooperation partnership with Afghanistan, in order to support the security sector reform.

    —  The involvement in Iraq (2004), through a training and equip mission for the Iraqi security forces.

    —  The first NATO involvement in Africa, through a mission of support for the African Union in Sudan (2005).

    —  The assistance provided to the US for managing the consequences of Katrina and to Pakistan for managing the consequences of the earthquake in 2006.

  In parallel with the geographical expansion of NATO a functional expansion can also be noticed and it can be seen in:

    —  Promoting a broader approach to security, already affirmed in the 1999 Strategic Concept and, as a consequence, a broader interpretation of the means of collective defense at NATO's disposal. This has led to an increase of NATO's involvement in crisis management, stabilization operations and missions, outside art. V of the Washington Treaty.

    —  Developing the relations with third countries, including a political dimension of dialogue and consultations, regarding issues of common interest, as well as a practical cooperation dimension, covering a wide range of subjects, such as interoperability, security sector reform, civil emergency planning.

    —  Developing the soft component of NATO's action, by increasing the involvement of the Alliance in activities supporting the security sector reform, the restructuring and training of security forces, as well as by developing the classified information exchange, both among allies and with the partner countries. In this context, at the Riga Summit a new Training Cooperation Initiative was launched, aiming at training the security forces of the countries in the Middle East, an initiative that some allies believe could be applied to states in Africa as well.

    —  Increasing the complexity of NATO operations by including not only stabilization activities, but also reconstruction and development, relating with local authorities, with governmental and non governmental organizations. One case in point is Afghanistan, where the provincial reconstruction teams constitute the support for the expansion of the NATO presence on the entire Afghan territory. It could be also mentioned the efforts to develop a comprehensive approach within NATO operations, that would combine in efficient manner military instruments for stabilization with reconstruction and development activities, including by developing the cooperation with other international organizations.

  These evolutions show that NATO is an organization that has evolved from being a defendant of the Euro-Atlantic security to being an actor which provides stability at global level. This does not mean that NATO became a kind of worldwide alliance or a world policeman, but that the Alliance became one with worldwide interests and partners. The partners' contribution to the fulfillment of the security objectives of the Alliance is demonstrating the wisdom of the considerable investment in the Partnership policies and of looking at security both functionally and geographically.

  At the same time, NATO is no longer only a military actor, but a political—military one, having its own evaluations and positions regarding the areas or the fields of activity in which it gets involved operationally. While most of the initiatives related to the transformation of NATO are technical in nature, they also have profound political implications, being able to affect the future of the organization, including its role and place at international level (and in relation with other international organizations, especially the UN and the EU).


  NATO has obtained impressive successes, some of them in difficult circumstances, proving the positive pace of the transformation process of the Alliance. The ultimate success of this process still cannot be taken for granted, especially in times where in Afghanistan the Alliance is facing major difficulties.

  A major source of difficulties is related to the difference of interests and vision among the NATO member states regarding the future of the organization. Because of this difference of views, certain allies are sometimes hesitant in providing the necessary resources—financial and military—in order to ensure the success of NATO's missions.

  Some allies promote the implementation of an ambitious transformation of NATO, aimed at increasing its role at global level. In this context, they support NATO taking over new missions and responsibilities, a process that requires adequate resources.

  Other allies continue to see NATO mainly as a military alliance and they are hesitant towards NATO getting involved in what they perceive to be traditional civilian tasks, towards developing relations with third states or other international organizations, towards deploying NATO forces outside the Euro-Atlantic space.

  The biggest challenge for NATO future is therefore the fact that there is not a clear enough common vision of its member states regarding the role of this organization.

  On a different level but related to the first one, there is a second major challenge, which has to do with the exploitation of these differences by third actors, having opposite interests and objectives to those of NATO.

  These differences of view, while not exaggerated, should not be ignored. Some allies define NATO's role taking into account the national evaluation regarding other existing international organizations and their potential of ensuring the achievement of the national interests and of promoting influence at international level. This is particularly relevant while we talk about the views of different allies on EU and NATO—EU relations.

  That is why the allied states are likely to and should continue to reflect upon the delimitation of NATO role in the current international framework and the modalities of coordinating with other international organizations, especially with the EU, in order to avoid competition and unnecessary duplications.


  Based on the current realities, could be assumed that, on a medium term perspective:

    —  the Euro-Atlantic area would continue to face different threats, both from inside (as the terrorist threats on the territory of the member-states) and from exterior, the latest having the potential to ask, in some cases, for military interventions;

    —  NATO—whose area of operation would inevitably enlarge— remains the best instrument that could be used to deal with this kind of challenging situations;

    —  NATO alone would not be sufficient; therefore the Alliance will need to closely coordinate with and to benefit from an active support to its action of other international organizations, especially EU and the UN;

    —  Transatlantic relations, even if revisited, will remain cooperative in nature; and

    —  the allies will have to accept that the new security challenges need the revival of their cohesion.

  The question of how global can NATO become is a very topical one and extremely relevant for the future of the North Atlantic Alliance. The transformation of NATO into a true global actor, both political and military, is likely to remain top on the organization's agenda, even if the allies' views regarding the rhythm and the dimensions of this process will continue to differ.

  At political level, this transformation might include the continuation of the enlargement process, possibly with new invitations being launched at Bucharest Summit, in 2008. The relations with Georgia and Ukraine are also considered, at least by certain allies, within the larger package of "extending the NATO family". If the accession to NATO of the three current candidates (Croatia, Albania and Macedonia) is likely to follow, in general, the basic principles that have guided the previous rounds of enlargement (taking into consideration both the individual performances of the candidates and the political interests of NATO), a potential enlargement to the East will be different and more complex, given the Russia position regarding this space.

  Finding a win—win solution with Russia regarding the relation with the countries in the former Soviet space interested in developing the cooperation with NATO will be very difficult, but is essential for ensuring security and stability in this area and for ensuring that those countries can make their own strategic and political choices in term of foreign policy.

  The continuation of the NATO reform process and of the enlargement, the repositioning of the US military forces in Europe or the location of some components of the US missile defense system on the territory of Czech Republic and Poland are just some of the developments that Russia has criticized sharply, considering them as directed against its own interests.

  The NATO—Russia Council has a tremendous potential that still needs to be explored and in which a new Kremlin administration should be engaged at the earliest possible stage.

  Another important subject is the reform of the NATO partnerships. This includes both the re-balancing of the current partnership format, once some of the current partners become NATO members, as well as the development of relations with countries that share NATO values and contribute to fulfilling NATO objectives, such as Japan, South Korea, Australia or New Zeeland. A profound reconfiguration of NATO partnerships and an extension of the partnership mechanisms and instruments for the so called "contact countries" will impose the development of a comprehensive vision of NATO regarding the strategic and operational cooperation with partner countries and other international organizations.

  Developing NATO's role in civilian fields exceeding the "traditional" missions of the Alliance—energy security, training and security sector reform—will remain high on the allied agenda, as part of the process of adapting NATO to the new realities, to a new strategic and security framework in which it needs to operate.

  A new strategic concept should present a common vision of the NATO member states regarding the future of NATO, its role and place in international arena. It is likely that the debates concerning the possibility of adopting such a document will intensify. Currently, some allies are concerned about launching formally the process of reviewing the current strategic concept, while other allies argue that the current document no longer corresponds to reality and needs to be updated (the document was written before 9/11, before NATO's involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, before the biggest enlargement round of NATO, at the Prague Summit in 2002).

  Still, some NATO members fear that launching a review of the strategic concept will re-open controversial debates and will be contrary to the spirit of trans-Atlantic reconciliation that characterized NATO after Iraq. The debates surrounding the Iraqi crisis in 2003 have shown a series of divergences among NATO members, that were later confirmed by the debates on other issues on NATO's agenda, and these divergences are linked to the way in which the Alliance should answer to the new threats, including terrorism, as well as to the question if NATO should include among its missions promoting democracy. Could be questioned even the NATO relevance in the new security framework, given the fact that some allied states are tempted to appeal more and more to coalitions of the willing for solving different crisis, while others support the development of a security and defense dimension of the EU.

  In spite of all these difficulties, at the 43rd edition of the Munich security conference, in February 2007, talking about the priorities and the future of NATO, the Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer mentioned 2009 as a possible time horizon for adopting a new NATO strategic concept. It is likely that, even if the deadline of the Secretary General could hardly be met, the debates surrounding this issue will intensify in the near future. The final result is difficult to anticipate and will depend to a certain extent on the way in which the NATO transformation process develops, in general, but also on the way the operation in Afghanistan evolves.

  Militarily and operationally, the main priorities will remain those related to the military transformation of NATO and to providing the necessary capabilities in order to ensure the success of NATO operations and missions in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Iraq. The adoption of the Comprehensive Political Guidance sets the premises for continuing the efforts for the development of modern high readiness military capabilities, adapted to the missions that the Alliance is likely to launch in the next 10-15 years. The efforts need to be sustained through an effective management that will ensure the coherence of the planning and capabilities within NATO. The discussion on the structural reform of NATO as well as on the review of the planning mechanism of the Alliance will thus continue to be high on the Alliance's agenda.

  In the next period, special attention is expected to be paid to:

    —  strengthening the NATO Response Force;

    —  increasing the expeditionary character of the military forces;

    —  developing the strategic airlift capabilities;

    —  developing a missile defence system and ground surveillance systems;

    —  improving the intelligence cooperation; and

    —  transforming the Special Forces.

  Afghanistan will remain NATO number one operational priority. The focus will be increasingly on the training of the Afghan security forces and extending the authority of the Afghan government, while reducing the influence of the Taliban.

  In Kosovo NATO will continue to have an important role to play in maintaining stability.

  In Iraq the efforts to train and equip the Iraqi security forces will continue, both within the country and outside, through programs hosted by the allied states.


  In the current international security framework, the historical experience and its geographical position make Romania directly interested in NATO remaining a strong, relevant and credible organization. The main interests of Romania in NATO remain:

    —  the guarantee provided by art. V of the Washington Treaty;

    —  the possibility to promote its national security interests and to express its own views in the most important forum for the Euro-Atlantic defense and security; and

    —  the direct participation in the process of military transformation of NATO and extending the modernization effects at national level, by assuming new concepts, making use of the experience acquired in NATO operations and connecting to major reform trends promoted by NATO, as an organization.

  Politically, Romania's main priorities are naturally linked to its own and, at the same time, NATO's neighborhood—the Western Balkans and the larger Black Sea Region.

  While recognizing the fact that the tendency of NATO to become a global actor is perfectly justified by the new type of threats the Alliance is facing today, Romania will continue to argue that a coherent allied policy regarding its Eastern neighborhood remains extremely important and the complex issue raised by the relation with Russia should not inhibit the development of such a policy. While in the current security framework NATO can no longer choose its partners strictly on geographical criteria, the countries situated in the immediate neighborhood of the Alliance still need and deserve political attention and practical assistance. NATO, as an organization, and its member states have a direct stake in developing the relations with these countries.

  Militarily, Romania will remain connected to the profound transformation process launched within NATO, contributing to advancing new concepts and fulfilling its national obligations related to the military requirements.

  Romania started the national implementation of the Comprehensive Political Guidance and of the new initiatives adopted by NATO, including in the strategic planning documents. These will provide the basis for defining a coherent framework that will allow continuing the internal reforms with a focus on those fields identified as important by NATO.

  In this spirit, Romania pays special attention to its participation to the NATO Response Force and to the conceptual development of this force, representing an engine for the military transformation of the Alliance. The national contribution to NRF is integrated in a broader process of developing the national response capabilities to the new threats. The main objectives of this process are:

    —  creating joint expeditionary forces and increasing the ability to deploy and sustain those forces;

    —  providing forces with bigger level of usability;

    —  increasing the ability to face asymmetrical threats; and

    —  ensuring the information superiority.

  Romania will also continue to support the development of a NATO missile defense system, complementary and integrated to the American one and fully respecting the principle of the indivisibility of the security of the allied states.

  At the same time, Romania will continue to act for developing the role of its armed forces, so that they are able to participate to complex stabilization and reconstruction missions.

    NATO will continue to be a pillar of Romania's foreign and security policy and, at the same time, an instrument of consolidating this policy and of promoting the national interests, in correlation with the interests of NATO allies. In a time when NATO assumes an ambitious agenda for transformation, Romania is prepared to contribute to this process and is extremely honored to host the next NATO Summit in 2008.

    Romania's belonging to the European Union, as well as its status as NATO member are two sides of the same coin, which mutually support and reinforce. These complementarities of objectives and instruments strengthen the confidence in the perspective of a wide cooperation between NATO and EU, process that Romania wants to contribute to in the future.

10 December 2007

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