Munich, 20 March 1997 (RFE/RL)-- Romania's foreign minister Adrian Severin has appealed to Germany to support its bid to be in the first wave of countries to be invited to join NATO. Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are regarded as frontrunners.
At a meeting with German foreign minister Klaus Kinkel in Bonn yesterday, Severin argued that Hungary and Romania together could provide NATO with a pillar of stability close to the troubled Balkan region. Further, Romania and Poland together could build another pillar of stabilty around Ukraine, with which NATO wishes to develop relations.
The German foreign office said Kinkel did not respond directly to the request that Romania be in the first round of admissions to NATO. He said only that the candidates would be decided at the NATO summit in Madrid in July.
Kinkel will travel to Bucharest at the end of April to draw his own impressions of Romania's situation.
Severin's efforts to persuade Bonn to support Romania's admission to NATO in the first round of expansion is part of a campaign by the new Government led by President Emil Constantinescu and Prime Minister Viktor Ciorbea. It has already won a degree of success with French president Jacques Chirac and some Italian and Spanish politicians.
In keeping with NATO's demand that potential members must first settle any disputes with their neighbors, Romania has signed a basic treaty with Hungary and is in the process of negotiating a similar treaty with Ukraine, settling various territorial problems.
In an interview published in today's "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" the Romanian foreign minister stressed the importance of what he called the "strategic partnership" which had developed recently between Romania and Hungary and Romania and Poland. He also said Romania and Poland would help build Ukraine's relationship with West European structures.
The newspaper quoted him as saying: "Because of its gegraphical position, Romania can be of service to Europe in a way which no other country in the region can."
In his talk with the newspaper, Severin also argued that a NATO refusal to admit Romania in the first wave of new members could have negative consequences among the population.
Severin told the newspaper that Romania's admission to NATO and the European Union would amount to a declaration that it "belonged to a particular political family." He said the Romanian population was concerned that it was not recognised as a member of this family.
He told the newspaper that around 90 percent of Romanians supported entry into NATO in the first round of admissions. According to Severin, disappointment in these expectations could lead to a slowdown in Romania's economic development.
The newspaper quoted him as saying "It is difficult to realize reforms with a frustrated population." He said Romanians were currently enduring a stiff austerity program in the hope that it would help Romania's acceptance into NATO and the European Union.