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President Basescu in Brussels: Romania believes Serbia is key to peace in Balkans

President Traian Basescu said in a joint statement for reporters with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the Brussels-based Alliance headquarters on Thursday that Romania believes Serbia is 'the key to peace in the Balkans' and he reiterated Bucharest's support for NATO's expansion to the Western Balkans.

'Romania unreservedly backs NATO's expansion to the Western Balkans, with a special mention for Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia - Serbia by all means. Romania believes Serbia is the key to peace in the Balkans', Basescu said.

He added that he and the NATO secretary general also examined the security issues in the Republic of Moldova as well as the prospects for cooperation in the NATO-Georgia and NATO-Ukraine partnerships. The Romanian president said he and Rasmussen analysed the prospects for the full implementation of the Conventional Forces Europe Treaty.
Romania examines possibility to increase participation in Afghanistan
President Traian Basescu said on Thursday that Romania was examining in all openness the possibility to increase the participation in Afghanistan with staff necessary for training, but also with combat troops.'We are examining in all openness the possibility to increase our participation in Afghanistan, especially with the staff necessary for training the Afghan army, but also with combat troops,' Traian Basescu told a news conference at the end of the meeting he had with Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Alliance Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the NATO headquarters in Brussels.

The Head of State emphasized the fact that Romania would stay 'strongly committed' to carrying out its mission in Afghanistan.'We are examining in all openness the requests made by the military commanders in Afghanistan to increase the contribution of the NATO member states in this territory. We are going to do it at the same time with our allies. We understand very well that, as long as the Taliban forces are not defeated in Afghanistan, they will spread to the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea,' said Traian Basescu.

He thanked Anders Fogh Rasmussen for the invitation to hold a talk at the NATO headquarters in Brussels and added that the agenda of the meeting included very important subjects.

In this respect the Head of State also said that they approached the question of the new strategic concept of the Alliance. Traian Basescu made it clear that Romania wanted to stick to the unaltered Article 5 of the treaty and voiced conviction that the Alliance must find solutions for the neighbourhood around the borders of the NATO member states.

In his turn Anders Fogh Rasmussen emphasized the fact that one needed to train more soldiers, but also members of the order keeping forces in Afghanistan. He also urged all allies to contribute to the training mission in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan was one of the important subjects on our agenda today. We have come to an intensive stage of the consultations among all the allies. Soon we are going to make important decisions on the road to take in Afghanistan as regards the strategy and the number of soldiers. Particularly I should emphasize the necessity of a powerful training mission in Afghanistan with a view to training Afghan soldiers. Our aim is to hand over, gradually, province after province, the responsibility of ensuring security to the Afghans as their capacity develops, said the NATO Secretary-General.

Rasmussen also voiced 'strong appreciation' for Romania's firm pledge to the Alliance, for its contribution to the NATO operations and missions, the ones in Afghanistan included. The NATO Secretary-General added that, during the talks with Traian Basescu, they also approached the question of the future of the Alliance, which is preparing a new strategic concept. We must make sure that the NATO adapts to the security challenges of the 21st century and I highly appreciate Romania's support from this point of view, also said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who voiced wish to cooperate with Romania in changing and renewing the Alliance, Agerpres correspondent reports.