05BUCHAREST1063 / 2005-04-29 13:36:00
Embassy Bucharest
                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: 

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