(Prague, Czech Republic--March 4, 2002) Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Dan Geoana says he is "optimistic" concerning both bilateral relations with the Czech Republic and the process of NATO enlargement. Geoana, speaking today at a press conference at RFE/RL's broadcast center in Prague, said that the two countries are now "re-discovering each other" and that the same can be said about the ongoing processes of EU and NATO enlargement, with Europe and its NATO allies re-discovering the potential and capabilities of all the candidate countries, "from northern Europe to its south."
Geoana said Romania has made considerable progress towards meeting the requirements of NATO membership, especially in military reforms and improving economic performance. What made him particularly optimistic, Geoana said, is that for the first time ahead of the summit there is a list of "specifics" that each candidate knows it must meet. Romania, he added, does not claim it can meet all the "value criteria" (among which he counted achieving governmental transparency, the struggle against corruption, ensuring independence of the judiciary, reducing the level of anti-Semitism, "the Roma problem" and "the problem of homeless children") ahead of the summit and cannot be "realistically expected" to do so. However, Geoana said, what is expected of Bucharest is to produce a "short term blueprint" for coping with these problems, and Bucharest intends to do so.
Geoana met today with his Czech counterpart Jan Kavan, and was welcomed to RFE/RL's Prague headquarters by RFE/RL President Thomas Dine. During the press conference, Geoana said RFE/RL has made "perhaps the greatest contribution of all" to demolishing the communist regimes and added that its task "was still not over" and that it now makes an important contribution to the process of consolidating the new democratic systems.