Mircea Geoana


The importance of President Clinton's visit to Bucharest goes far beyond the symbolism represented by the first visit of an American president to a free and democratic Romania. "Euro-Atlantic integration" does not start when a country states its commitment to being a candidate for North Atlantic Treaty Organization ('NATO') or European Union ('EU') membership and does not end with the moment of accession. Among Central European nations, accession to NATO has enjoyed the greatest public support in Romania. Romania's integration into the European Union is the other foreign policy goal that, together with accession to NATO, is considered indispensable to Romania's development as a stable and prosperous free market democracy. Romania took advantage of the instruments set up by the EU which are meant to assist Central European associated countries in their preparation for accession. Economic integration does not take place overnight; negotiations for accession to the EU of Finland, Sweden and Austria -- prosperous European nations and former European Free Trade Agreement ("EFTA") members -- lasted for four years. The prospect of EU membership has been a main factor that has enabled Romania to become a member of Central European Free Trade Area ("CEFTA").