Statement by
H.E. Mr. Mircea Geoana
Minister of Foreign Affair of Romania

57th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
New York, 14 September 2002

Monsieur le Président,
Monsieur le Secrétaire Général, Excellences,
Distingues délégués, Mesdames et Messieurs,

Permettez-moi tout d'abord de vous féliciter, Monsieur le Président, à 1'occasion de votre nomination en tant que Président de la 57e session de 1'Assemblée Générale de l'ONU. Mes félicitations sont également adressées à l'ancien Président, Son Excellence Monsieur Han Seung Soo, pour son dévoument et excellent travail.

Je tiens aussi à joindre mes prédecesseurs, en accueillant chaleureusement la Suisse, comme le membre le plus nouveau de notre organisation, ainsi que le Timor Oriental qui nous joindra prochainement.

Les modèes de sécurité globule, en train de changer après les attaques terroristes du 11 septembre de l' année dernière, ont apporté à la communauté internationale de graves et inattendus défis. Nous nous sommes confrontés à une epreuve dramatique et tragique, à savoir celle que notre sécurité est plus fragile que l'on a imagine, que la démocratie et la liberté ont été attaqués. On nous a violemment rappelé que la lutte contre le terrorisme nous concerne tous.

La réponse rapide et constructive de la Roumanie à l'appel des Nations Unies pour la solidarité est maintenant de toute évidence. Notre participation au sein de la Force Internationale d'Assistance pour l'Afghanistan, approuvée par le Parlement roumain au mois de decembre dernier, a montré clairement notre détermination de suivre notre engagement, en pratique ainsi qu' au niveau de l' esprit, en faveur des principes et objectifs des Nations Unies.

Suite à l'adoption par le Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies de la Résolution 1373 (2001), nous avons adopté la législation sur la prévention du financement, en Roumanie, des organisations et des actes terroristes et nous avons ratifié les 12 Conventions et les Protocoles des Nations Unies relatifs au terrorisme. Nous nous sommes activement engagés dans des opérations en Afghanistan avec nos alliés stratégiques qui s'occupent des conséquences de la lutte contre le terrorisme.

But have we, the international community, done enough? The Secretary General, in his opening statement, drew an uncompromising picture of the threats to peace and has rightly reminded us of our responsibilities.

Romania believes it is necessary to proceed unambiguously in condemning and actively combating all forms of terrorism and violent fanaticism, through cooperation at the international level that is substantive, consistent and coherent. Financing of terrorism is an obvious target for action. Romania believes that the experience of regional liaison and joint operations in South East Europe can be of use to international efforts to suppress the flow of funds to terrorist groups.

The terrorist threat calls for us to be even more vigilant in controlling the use and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as conventional weapons such as landmines and small arms, which can fall into the wrong hands.

In this context, Romania calls on Iraq to comply with existing UN Security Council Resolutions and to allow UN inspectors to return, immediately and unconditionally, to enable further decisions relevant to the people of Iraq and the security and stability of the area. Romania was on the UN Security Council in 1990 when the first Resolutions on Iraq were adopted and contributed to building consensus at that time. We believe the Security Council must respond to the continued defiance of its Resolutions firmly and resolutely. There can be no doubt as to my government's stand should fears about possible threats to global security prove justified. As we have done in the past, we will stand alongside our allies and freedom-loving nations in the defense of world peace.

A strong response to Iraq's long-term defiance of the Security Council's authority is called for because of the threat to global security from weapons of mass destruction. The temptation to apply these same principles to other, localized, conflict situations should be resisted, especially when mechanisms exist for dialogue and peaceful resolution. While states have the right to exercise control over their own security, they also have a responsibility to ensure that security measures do not undermine the foundations of democracy. We can adapt to these new realities without sacrificing human rights and universal values. Indeed, through respect for civil liberties and the promotion of equal opportunity and social cohesion, we can help to remove some of the root causes of terrorism: resentment and frustration fuelled by poverty and marginalisation.

This is a fundamental element of conflict prevention. But early warning and early intervention by the international community is not enough. The experiences of the last decade show it is time to move away from ad hoc solutions for short-term problems towards an integrated and long-term approach to "nation-building". By integrated, I mean that the international response should be based on an efficient division of labor between the appropriate organizations, with a common mandate and a clear chain of command. By long-term, I mean that international support should remain in place until security is seen to be durable and rehabilitation and local empowerment have become a reality.

The stabilization and rehabilitation process in Afghanistan is a test for the changing pattern of international cooperation. Ultimately, reconstruction efforts must be directed towards sustainability and ownership by the Afghan people. The recent attempt on President Karzai's life demonstrates the frailty of the current situation in Afghanistan. This, and the attacks in Kabul and other cities, are dramatic reminders of the price paid by many Afghan generations for recovering their sovereignty and for winning the right to govern their country. The intense effort that the United Nations has embarked upon in the democratic and physical reconstruction of the country is commendable. Romania believes this commitment must be maintained as long as the dangers of a serious renewal of violence exist. Romania has already made a solid financial contribution to the international aid effort and is ready to offer further assistance, according to the requirements of the Afghan government.

Efforts to aid Afghanistan should not stop at that country's borders. Stability for that country and the region will only be assured through a broader vision for the development of the whole of Central Asia. We need to find a way to link Europe and Central Asia by working up an integrated strategy that will reinforce democracy and bring economic prosperity not only across Europe but Eurasia as well. A first step must be to end the "frozen conflicts" in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus.

The positive developments in South East Europe show what can be achieved when the international community takes action in a coherent and coordinated way. The United Nations and its international partners, notably the European Union, OSCE and NATO, have worked tirelessly to help to reconstitute societies based on the rule of law and ethnic tolerance. But the process is not yet complete. It is vital that this decisive electoral autumn shows beyond doubt that modern democracy has taken root. By ensuring free and fair elections, political leaders in the region should keep their countries on the right path to European integration. As Romania draws closer to achieving its Euro-Atlantic integration ambitions, we will continue to contribute actively to efforts to break down the remaining divisions in South East Europe and to speed up the integration of the whole region into the European mainstream.

The violent conflicts over the last decade awoke the world to the need for action against the horror of war crimes. The entry into force on 1st July of the International Criminal Court Statute represents a very significant step forward. Romania ratified the International Criminal Court Statute this year and remains deeply committed to ensuring that the Court should function effectively as a viable and necessary instrument of international law. In this spirit, ongoing discussions should clarify some of the outstanding issues.

The danger that the violence in the Middle East will escalate beyond control cannot be ignored. My recent discussions with political leaders from the region have reinforced my conviction that it is crucial to find a way to renounce the logic of war in favor of a logic of peace. We call on the parties to engage in serious negotiations for a peaceful, comprehensive and lasting solution. Their success or failure will have consequences far beyond their own immediate region, impacting upon what might be termed the wider Middle East, from North Africa to Central Asia.

The two serious challenges for the 21St century are: fighting terrorism and new security threats; and making globalization work for everyone everywhere. In both, the United Nations has a decisive role to play. We have reached the point where we must address the global agenda in a way that meets people's expectations and achieves early results. We must deliver in a coherent and pragmatic way on the commitments taken at Doha, Monterrey, Johannesburg, as well as other major UN conferences, such as the Special Session on Children. We must design an urgent, clear and encouraging response to the humanitarian needs of Africa and promote the conditions for the sustainable development of the African continent.

Tangible progress depends upon a new paradigm of cooperation between stakeholders of globalization, states, corporations, international organizations and civil society. Efficient implementation depends upon a new architecture of global governance that is fitted to today's realities and a renewed responsibility by states.

Finally, success in achieving the Millennium Development Goals depends upon a strict and verifiable system for monitoring implementation. A new sense of participation and partnership must energies our common contribution.

We welcome President Bush's announcement that the US will rejoin UNESCO.

The graduation of the Central European countries from transition economies to membership of the European Union is proof that democracy with a functioning market economy and an open society does work. But there is a price: and that is the difficult decisions, politically and socially, of successful transition. We have been fortunate to have EU financial support and know-how that has been vital in maintaining momentum and public acceptance of painful reform programs. In return, we will do the same, by sharing the burden of international responsibility and assistance. We have not only a moral or historic, but also a strategic responsibility to address the needs of the poor and disadvantaged. Discontent and disillusion breed instability that in turn offers fertile conditions for terrorism to flourish.

Governments, business and civil society have a unique opportunity to accelerate economic development through the use of the powerful new Information and Communication Technologies. In preparation for the forthcoming World Summit on Information Society in Geneva in 2003 and in Tunis in 2005, Romania will host, between 7-9 November this year, a Regional Ministerial Conference, jointly organized with the International Telecommunication Union and the Economic Commission for Europe. Our aim is to draw up a preliminary plan of action with specific mechanisms for bridging the digital divide.

The United Nations Security Council is the lynchpin of our Organization. Romania believes that we must redouble our efforts to promote reform of this body. The composition of the Security Council should be more representative of our global membership and reflect more accurately the realities of the global balance of power today. Romania's candidature for a Security Council seat for 2004-2005 is motivated by our commitment to the United Nations as a credible and efficient contributor to peace and stability world-wide.

What will we take home from our meeting this year? We need to reflect on how to eliminate the habit of ad-hoc cooperation. We need to think creatively and craft continuous patterns of teamwork. We should be more receptive to what people want from the UN. This is how we can best live up to our commitments and overcome what is seen as the handicap of International Organizations: namely the discrepancy between words and deeds. Let us leave this General Assembly determined to work on mapping pledges and achievements in a way that will add vigor to our words and reinforce our credibility. This after all is the source of our strength.