06BUCHAREST519 / 2006-03-24 18:00:00
Embassy Bucharest
                C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 BUCHAREST 000519 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/23/2016 
     B. BUCHAREST 447 
     C. BUCHAREST 278 
     D. 05 USNATO 759 
     E. 05 BUCHAREST 2354 
Classified By: CDA Mark Taplin for Reasons 1.4 (a), (b) and (d) 
1.  (C) Summary. Romania's desire to play an active role in 
the Black Sea region could, if properly channeled and 
supported by the U.S., the U.K. and like-minded partners, 
further our goals for the region and beyond. Bucharest could 
play a positive role in promoting regional efforts to 
strengthen democratic institutions, diversify energy sources, 
and combat asymmetric transnational threats such as TIP and 
narcotics trafficking.  Existing organizations like the 
Bucharest-based Southeast European Cooperative Initiative 
(SECI) Regional Center can help further these goals, but more 
support from Washington and European capitals is needed to 
persuade skeptical neighbors along the Black Sea rim to begin 
to cooperate seriously on a regional basis. The June 5 Black 
Sea forum in Bucharest provides an opportunity to jumpstart 
this process, but we need to provide counsel to the Romanians 
on how to best focus their efforts, as well as lend 
encouragement to Bulgaria and NATO-aspirants Ukraine and 
Georgia to work together more closely on a regional basis. 
It also provides an opportunity to send a clear message to a 
reluctant Ankara in particular that more regional dialogue 
rather than less is the best way for it to maintain its 
leading role on the Black Sea and to collaborate with NATO 
and EU members in addressing "soft security" questions that 
have growing implications for Europe and beyond. End Summary. 
2.  (C) On March 20, the Ambassador assembled Country Team 
members for a wide-ranging offsite discussion of Black Sea 
issues. Embassy Bucharest offers these thoughts as our 
contribution to the ongoing USG assessment of a strategy 
towards the Black Sea region.  If all politics are local, it 
may be true that all global strategies are too.  The 
standing-up of an East European Task Force in Romania and 
Bulgaria may be, when viewed from Washington, mostly about 
cutting-edge military training and operations far beyond the 
Black Sea rim.  However, for the countries in the region 
itself, our new presence on the Black Sea has meant strategic 
recalibrations -- some more enthusiastic than others -- as 
well as no small measure of heartburn.  For this reason, 
among others, it is imperative that we set a clear policy 
direction, on a government-wide basis, so that regional 
capitals will better understand our objectives -- and 
correspondingly will be less likely to make miscalculations 
about a neighborhood which shows every sign of becoming more 
critical for U.S. interests. 
The Black Sea "Security Paradox" 
3. (C) Country Team members immediately identified the Black 
Sea "security paradox": despite the presence of three NATO 
members on the Black Sea littoral, and the planned accession 
of both Romania and Bulgaria to the EU in January, 2007, the 
Black Sea region and its neighborhood remain very much on the 
"frontier" of a prosperous and democratic Europe.  The Black 
Sea region itself is home to at least three frozen conflicts 
and abuts the still-unstable Western Balkans.  The area's 
nascent democracies face major challenges, including 
entrenched endemic corruption within their borders and the 
threats posed by transnational crime syndicates, which 
transcend national boundaries. 
4.  (C) The region is Europe's "gateway" to the Caucasus and 
the Middle East, as well as an increasingly major point of 
entry into Europe for oil and natural gas from those areas. 
Indeed, much of the Romanian focus on the Black Sea region 
reflects its growing dependence on foreign sources of energy, 
including Russian gas imports. (Ref A) Although the region is 
a crossroads for legitimate commerce, having reemerged in the 
post Cold War era as the pathway from the Middle East to 
Europe, law enforcement experts note that the Black Sea 
region is also increasingly becoming a crucible for illegal 
trade -- from smuggling of cigarettes, stolen cars and oil to 
trafficking in drugs, persons, small arms and, possibly, 
weapons of mass destruction (WMD).  While hard statistics are 
difficult to come by due to an extraordinarily low rate of 
interdiction, illegal trafficking via the Black Sea region 
probably accounts for most of the trafficking in persons from 
Eastern Europe, much of the Middle Eastern migrant smuggling 
into Western Europe, a large percentage of the heroin 
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smuggled from Afghanistan and a significant proportion of 
small arms and light weapons smuggled out of Transnistria. 
5.  (C) Since 2004, senior GOR officials have regularly 
consulted Embassy Bucharest on Black Sea issues, seeking our 
guidance and feedback on Romania's ongoing formulation of a 
Black Sea regional strategy.  GOR policy makers have 
consistently told us that Romania's overarching goal is to 
"anchor the region to the strategic mainstream" (Ref B) by 
linking the region to Euro-Atlantic structures, notably NATO 
and the EU. They view this linkage as the only way to 
successfully confront asymmetrical, trans-border threats and 
regional instability.  Romania remains eager to play a 
constructive and supportive role in the Black Sea region, but 
seeks U.S. leadership in bringing the region closer to the 
West, a point that President Traian Basescu has repeatedly 
stressed, both in meetings with U.S. interlocutors and in 
public remarks.  Initially, the Romanian approach to regional 
issues focused on "hard security" concerns but since last 
year, and at U.S. urging, the GOR has increasingly turned its 
attention to efforts to encourage regional cooperation with a 
"soft security" focus.  The GOR devised its June 5 "Black Sea 
Forum for Dialogue and Partnership Summit" with this in mind 
and views active U.S. support for the forum as pivotal to its 
success.  The GOR frets that absent U.S. urging, Russia, 
Turkey (and others) will send low level representatives to 
attend the forum.  (Ref C) 
A Robust, if Untraditional, Role for NATO 
6. (C)  In Embassy's view, NATO has an important role to play 
in the region, but that role should not just include 
traditional defense issues.  Far more than a military 
alliance, NATO serves as a steppingstone for EU membership 
and a partner in democracy development.  As USNATO has noted, 
NATO can serve as both a "mentor and magnet for fragile 
democracies."  (Ref D)  In light of declining assistance 
budgets regionally, NATO may be one of the best tools 
available for the promotion of democratic institutions and 
regional cooperation.  Although the Partnership for Peace 
(PfP) program is valuable for regional states with declared 
Euro-Atlantic aspirations (Ukraine, Georgia), countries in 
the region that do not belong to the PfP can benefit from 
targeted security cooperation programs, including programs 
aimed at defense reform, a key aspect of which is civilian 
control of the military and the development of durable 
democratic institutions.  Romania, with its recent experience 
as a post-communist state, fledgling democracy and NATO 
aspirant, has a great deal to offer to countries in the 
region exploring closer Euro-Atlantic ties.  Next week, for 
example, Romania is hosting a group of senior Georgian 
parliamentarians under the auspices of a USG-funded NATO 
tour.  Romania could also serve as a host/key participant in 
NATO programs without a specific military focus, such as 
NATO-led environmental projects. 
A "Harmonious" Model for Both Romania and Turkey? 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
7. (C) Romania's reticence about an expanded BLACKSEAFOR 
under Turkish and Russian leadership reflects bona fide 
concerns about Moscow and Ankara's efforts to, in effect, 
exclude NATO from the Black Sea region (Ref E).  On the other 
hand, senior GOR officials have told us that Romania is open 
to the possibility of an expanded Operation Black Sea Harmony 
(OBSH), provided it would not be dominated by Turkey.  Under 
Bucharest's vision, OBSH would have rotating leadership and 
would be open to participation by NATO assets (ships and 
aircraft) from the Mediterranean, including from NATO's 
Mediterranean-based Operation Active Endeavor (OAE).  Romania 
adamantly opposes Turkish control over information flow to 
NATO from OBSH, with one senior Romanian naval officer 
characterizing the current Turkish attitude on intelligence 
sharing with NATO as "Turkey would pass to NATO what it needs 
to know."  If these concerns could be surmounted, Romania 
would be an important, even eager, participant in an expanded 
OBSH -- but it will not participate in an OBSH that is 
"morphed" into BLACKSEAFOR or dominated by players who are 
antagonistic to a broader role in the region for the 
Euro-Atlantic community. 
SECI: Cooperating at the Crossroads 
8.  (C) The Black Sea could use more regional institutions 
like the Bucharest-based Southeast European Cooperative 
Initiative (SECI) Regional Center for Combating Transborder 
Crime.  Its emphasis on issues like TIP, narco-trafficking 
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and conventional smuggling is the right fit for the Black Sea 
and Balkans space.  SECI conducted 21 regional operations 
between 2002-2005 targeting a gamut of criminal enterprises. 
One prominent example of SECI's value to the region: the 
anti-TIP Operation Mirage has netted, to date, 809 
traffickers.  Given that 300,000 containers transit the port 
of Constanta each year, and an ambitious port expansion is 
planned, SECI's recently launched Container Security 
Initiative exemplifies the organization's cutting edge 
approach to regional law enforcement issues.  Romanian policy 
makers strongly support SECI but insist SECI will not work 
without continued U.S. backing, expressing concerns of late 
that USG support for SECI could be lagging.  (Ref B) Despite 
its success so far, and the rising interest in operating out 
of SECI demonstrated by law enforcement agencies like FBI and 
DEA, the Center still needs a "hands-on" U.S. presence to 
facilitate, coordinate and -- on occasion -- to cajole.  This 
will remain the case until at least 2009, the first year that 
substantial EU resources might be available to sustain SECI's 
operations and activities. 
Adopting a Joint Task Force Model 
9. (C) Another practical way to promote Black Sea security 
would be to encourage each of the region's governments to 
develop internal inter-agency coordination modeled on the 
U.S. Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF).  Issues such as 
TIP and narcotics smuggling tend to fall between the cracks 
of those agencies which have the capacities to track 
traffickers (including the military and intelligence 
services) but lack law enforcement jurisdiction and law 
enforcement agencies which have the jurisdiction but lack 
intelligence gathering capacities.  One possible U.S. 
contribution to the June 5 Bucharest "Black Sea Forum" could 
be to urge Black Sea states to promote a "task force model" 
of inter-agency cooperation at the national level. 
Energy Diversification:  New Route(s) to Regional Cooperation? 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
10. (C) Long skeptical of Russia, the Romanians received one 
more reason to mistrust their giant neighbor to the east this 
winter, when the temporary lowering of gas pressure from 
Russia made the entire region shudder in the cold.  Energy 
diversification is now a renewed Romanian priority, as it has 
become for many of its neighbors.   An issue that had barely 
registered on the Bucharest policy seismograph before has 
caught the attention of President Basescu, who during a 
recent Gulf trip announced a project to build an LNG terminal 
in Constanta for Qatari gas, and Prime Minister Tariceanu, 
who has touted the merits of the Nabucco project repeatedly 
since a winter visit to Ankara. 
11.  (C) Romania, along with fellow NATO members Bulgaria and 
Turkey, seem to be well-positioned to advocate for, and 
participate in, a range of "southern corridor" energy 
options.  If we help our partners articulate a long-term 
vision for a network of pipelines and upgraded ports in the 
Black Sea region, a powerful new cooperative dynamic could 
take hold where little in the way of shared economic 
interests has been evident before.  Without strategic vision, 
international cooperation and large investments, however, 
this opportunity could be lost.  We should also strongly 
encourage closer regional integration through free trade 
arrangements, eased border and customs processes, harmonized 
transportation networks (e.g. there is no single rail-gauge 
standard in the region), harmonized energy and hydrocarbon 
regulations and infrastructure and greater reliance on market 
pricing.  Partners like the World Bank and EBRD could be 
brought to the table to provide real-world resources and 
strategic leverage. 
Civil Society on the Black Sea Frontier 
12.  (C) Although we have saved this category for last, the 
objective of promoting civil society and democratic 
governance is probably the most important work we could take 
on in the broader Black Sea region.  Even outside the NATO 
context, the success of Ukraine, Georgia and potentially 
Moldova in carrying out full-fledged democratic 
transformations over the next decade and a half would make an 
enormous difference in terms of promoting security and 
stability in this sensitive zone.  Fifteen years ago, the 
prospect of Romania carrying out the necessary reforms to 
join both NATO and the European Union would have seemed, to 
put it charitably, highly implausible.  Even if our USG 
assistance resources are dwindling, we still need to find 
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ways to invest in building bridges among NGOs in the Black 
Sea region, in promoting anti-corruption efforts, and in 
helping our Central and East European partners in sharing 
their experience of democratic transformation with the 
fledgling democracies further east.  To this end, we support 
ideas like the German Marshall Fund's "Black Sea Fund" 
proposal along with other approaches for putting small grants 
with USG cost-sharing into the hands of grassroots civil 
society builders so that they can undertake projects and 
build networks further into the Black Sea region.  However 
stretched we are today for resources, this type of relatively 
small investment could, in time, pay off a hundred times over 
in a future Black Sea space that is about more than frozen 
conflicts and simmering suspicions. 
13. (U) AmEmbassy Bucharest's reporting telegrams are 
available on the Bucharest SIPRNet website: 

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