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05BUCHAREST1063 2005-04-29 13:36:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bucharest
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 BUCHAREST 001063 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/29/2015


1.4 A, B AND D

1. (C) Summary. An April 20 conference on strategic
opportunities in the Black Sea region permitted Romanian
President Basescu to highlight his view that democratic
stability, security, and prosperity in the region depended on
Euro-Atlantic cooperation. He also emphasized that Romanian
strategic thinking will become less reactive, and in
recognition of widespread democratic change, will seek
development of more intensive relationships with neighboring
states. Basescu's remarks, together with his sponsorship of
the conference, reflect his hands-on, highly engaged approach
to developing Romania's foreign policy, especially in regard
to its immediate neighbors. They also illustrate that
Romania is still seeking to define and execute a coherent and
comprehensive Black Sea regional strategy. The Embassy
Charge d'Affaires emphasized Euro-Atlantic institutions,
including NATO, and called for a broader definition of the
challenges and opportunities facing the region. Other
speakers also evoked the importance of anchoring the region
to Euro-Atlantic institutions. On the other hand, two
Western European speakers outlined a "Euro-centric" vision
that contrasts with Romania's support for a more robust NATO
role in the region. End Summary.

2. (SBU) President Basescu delivered the keynote address at
an April 20 Bucharest conference on "Black Sea Area and
Euro-Atlantic Security: Strategic Opportunities," sponsored
by the Romanian Presidency's National Security Department and
supported by the U.S., UK, and German Embassies as well as
the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies.
In his remarks, Basescu stressed that the Black Sea area
needs "a real Euro-Atlantic strategy designed to ensure
democratic stability, security and prosperity." He also
noted that three countries in the Black Sea area are NATO
members while others are members of the Partnership for Peace
or have developed special relationships with NATO. Basescu,
who has repeatedly referred to a "Washington-London-Bucharest
axis," dismissed concerns voiced in some Western European
quarters that the GOR has moved too close to the U.S. and UK,
adding that both countries have a "special interest" in the
Black Sea region and that Romania should take advantage of
the region's strategic opportunities.

3. (SBU) Basescu pointedly claimed that Romania had now
completed its transition to democracy and had now entered
into a period of "normalcy". He foreshadowed themes we
expect to see in Romania,s Defense White Paper shortly,
namely * that Romania would no longer be merely a "consumer
of security", but would also be a provider. Formulating the
idea a little differently, he then said that Romanian
strategy would be less reactive, and would instead become
more anticipatory of possible threats. Looking at the Black
Sea region, he called it vital to Romanian interests, and
noted that "our region can no longer be considered on the
periphery of Europe, but in the midst of an active
geopolitical process." Noting that he is an "optimist,"
Basescu continued "at the present time the Black Sea zone is,
first of all, a zone of strategic opportunities. The
principal risk. . .is losing momentum" in dealing with
pressing issues. These include "bad governance, frozen
conflicts, arms, narcotics and human trafficking, organized
crime, and extremist-separatist movements (which) constitute
strategic risks for the security of the Euro-Atlantic

4. (U) Charge d'Affaires also delivered a keynote address in
which he stressed the importance of defining geographic
parameters of the somewhat ambiguous "Black Sea region,"
given that there is no accepted definition of the term. He
focused on the importance of adopting a holistic, integrated
approach to security, democratization and economic
development. He further recommended incremental, tangible
steps toward concrete goals, channeling efforts through
existing multilateral institutions with proven track records,
particularly NATO. The Charge observed that policy makers
are increasingly coming to recognize the importance of the
Black Sea region, especially given that the end of the Cold
War, the spread of democratic institutions and values and
increased economic development have increased opportunities
for constructive engagement in the region. He noted that
these factors have contributed to a geopolitical reality in
which the Black Sea region presents a historical opportunity
for multilateral engagement and cooperation.

5. (C) The British Ambassador to Bucharest outlined in
general terms the risks facing the region, including
trafficking in narcotics, persons, and arms, observing that
the "Black Sea must not become a Black hole." The UK envoy
also expressed support for extending an "Operation Endeavor
type program in the Black Sea." (Note: The British Defense
Attache subsequently clarified to PolOff, however, that HMG
favors this extension if all littoral states are in accord.
End Note.)

A "Euro-Centric" View of Black Sea Security?


6. (C) Two Western European speakers implicitly called into
question a major NATO role in the Black Sea region, stressing
instead a "Euro-Centric" vision. Norbert Baas, Special Envoy
of the German Federal Government for Eastern Europe, Caucasus
and Central Asia, gave a keynote address that stressed the
primacy of European institutions and praised BLACKSEAFOR as a
"key tool." Baas gave only a brief nod to NATO at the end of
his remarks, when he noted that NATO engages in useful
dialogue with Russia and Ukraine. One member of the audience
later remarked that Baas' remarks contained nary a hint that
Romania and Germany are both members of the NATO Alliance.

7. (C) Later in the conference (when two thirds of the
participants had already departed), Onno Simons, the Deputy
of Head of the European Commission in Bucharest, cited
"prevailing tension between European models and non-European
models" in the Black Sea region. Simons outlined four EU
priorities for the region: addressing hard security issues,
including frozen conflicts; solving soft security issues,
such as TIP and organized crime; giving proper attention to
energy issues; creating a stable trade and investment
climate. Simons added that Romania could make a
"contribution" to development of an EU security policy, but
did not address a NATO role in the region. Marshall Center
Professor Detlef Puhl offered a more balanced "European
view," opining that a Black Sea strategy should be
"inclusive," incorporating a role for NATO as well as
compatible with EU issues.

8. (SBU) Other speakers explicitly called for a more robust
NATO role in the region (a view strongly endorsed by the
GOR). Cristian Istrate, Director General of the MFA's
Strategic Policy Division, underscored that the Black Sea
area should be "anchored" to Euro-Atlantic institutions and
praised the NATO Istanbul Summit's evocation of Black Sea
security issues, concluding that regional security
cooperation should be "a win-win instead of zero sum game."
Bulgarian Ambassador to Romania Konstantin Andreev also
evoked the Istanbul Summit Declaration and described the
Black Sea region as an "indispensable part of Euro-Atlantic
security." Dr. Jeffrey Simon of the National Defense
University expressed support for creation of a NATO Black
Sea/Caucasus strategy and proposed creation of a NATO "Black
Sea Group." Chamber of Deputies Defense Commission President
Mihai Stanisoara stated that EU and NATO should jointly
create a "strategic umbrella" over the region.

A Diversity of Regional Themes


9. (C) The conference did not have a single focus, but
explored in a general fashion a number of themes, including
energy issues and the apparent lack of a Black Sea regional
identity. It provided a forum for speakers, and participants
in the question and answer sessions, to explore diverse
themes related to Black Sea security:

- Common challenges: The speakers shared a broad consensus
on the principal risks facing the region, including frozen
conflicts, economic disparities, uneven democratic
development, and trafficking in persons, narcotics,
conventional weapons, and WMD. At the same time, speakers
generally agreed that a shared commitment to democratic
values (albeit in varying degrees throughout the area) bodes
well for the development of multilateral solutions to
regional challenges.

- Energy: Senior Presidential Adviser and National Liberal
Party (PNL) elder statesman Teodor Stolojan underscored early
in the conference that "energy security is the key" to the
Black Sea Region, a view shared by a number of other
speakers. Professor Roger Kangas of the Marshall Center
stated that access to energy reserves to the east of the
Black Sea littoral is an important element in the region's
- Black Sea "Identity": Several speakers questioned whether a
"Black Sea identity" exists, with the NDU's Dr. Simon
contrasting the historical presence of a "Balkan identity"
with the apparent lack of a "regional identity" in the Black
Sea area, where frozen conflicts are stumbling blocks to
developing unity. Other speakers, including Professor
Kangas, agreed on the lack of regional identity but opined
that its absence is not necessarily an impediment to regional

- "Locally Owned" Solutions: Several speakers stressed the
importance of Black Sea littoral states devising and
executing solutions for regional problems that reflect a
regional consensus - rather than solutions imposed from
outside the region. A number of speakers similarly
underscored that policy makers should work through existing
institutions rather than creating new administrative

- Parliamentary Roles: Romanian Defense Commission President
Stanisoara stressed that "parliaments must play a role in
contributing to democracy in the region," especially given
that "parliamentary dialogue will be necessary to develop a
Black Sea identity." He suggested the creation of a "Black
Sea Parliamentary Assembly" modeled on the NATO Parliamentary
Assembly and concentrating on "confidence and consensus
building." Stanisoara, a Basescu ally, later observed
enthusiastically to PolMilOff that the area's parliaments
could help build a regional identity.

- BLACKSEAFOR: Several speakers gave a cautious "nod" to
BLACKSEAFOR. Professor Puhl observed that BLACKSEAFOR has
had a slow start, while Dr. Simon noted that the U.S. has
"met resistance" to an observer role and that BLACKSEAFOR has
been so far limited mostly to "confidence building
activities." The Foreign Ministry's Istrate repeated GOR
support for BLACKSEAFOR "confidence building mechanisms" and
"enhancement of soft security mechanisms." Underlying the
discussions about BLACKSEAFOR was an implicit recognition -
stated explicitly by some speakers - that Russia should be
"fully engaged" in developing regional security strategies.
Bulgarian Ambassador Andreev articulated this sentiment when
he observed "we need to guarantee constructive engagement of
Russia." Several speakers, in addition to the UK envoy, also
expressed general support for an activity in the Black Sea
similar to "Operation Active Endeavor."

Comment: Romania Seeks to Define Its Regional Role



10. (C) The conference received the full support of
President Basescu and reflects the growing importance that
Romania places on Black Sea regional security issues.
Indeed, President Basescu underscored that importance in a
private meeting the day of the conference with Marshall
Center Director Dr. John Rose and Embassy ODC Chief. In the
course of that meeting, Basescu also observed that Romania
does not want Russia to perceive Romania as being "too much
of a leader" on Black Sea issues, but that, for the time
being, Romania should focus on developing an "organizational
role." During a coffee break at the conference, however, a
presidential staffer (who took credit for drafting Basescu's
keynote address) acknowledged to PolMilOff that the GOR has
still failed to achieve a satisfactory level of high-level
interagency dialogue and information sharing on Black Sea

11. (C) While the conference reflected Romania's successful
effort to keep the Black Sea on the front burner of NATO and
EU discussions about regional security, it also highlighted
the divergence between U.S. and Romanian views on one hand
and EU (including German) views on the other. As Basescu's
speech, and his other public remarks and private
conversations, have made clear, Romania continues to consider
its strategic alliance with the U.S. and NATO as the lynchpin
of its strategic security policy. At the same time, Romanian
policy makers, including Basescu, are still groping to define
a coherent Black Sea regional policy, and the April 20
conference reflects this ongoing effort. It would be a
mistake, however, to view Basescu's attention to Black Sea
issues as an isolated phenomenon. Since taking office at the
end of last year, Basescu has energetically engaged in the
development of a regional foreign policy, illustrated by his
visit to Moldova (the first by a Romanian president in half a
decade) and lengthy meeting in Bucharest this month with
Ukrainian President Yushchenko. Basescu has demonstrated a
willingness to "engage" on tough issues, including the
conflict in Transnistria, and has not been shy about calling
for a larger Romanian role. Romania's emerging regional
policy is still a "work in progress," but Basescu appears
committed to developing a policy for the Black Sea region
that binds Romania even more closely to NATO and the U.S.
End Comment.

12. (U) Amembassy Bucharest's reporting telegrams are
available on the Bucharest SIPRNet website: