President Basescu visits Serbia and Montenegro

Romanian president Traian Basescu is to pay a visit to Serbia and Montenegro in April 18-19. Svetozar Marovic, president of the latter Union, has invited the president of Romania to proceed to official visit.

The Romanian official's agenda includes meetings with Svetozar Marovic, president of the Serbia-Montenegro Union, Serbian president Boris Tadic and president of Montenegro Filip Vujanovic. Traian Basescu is also to meet Serbian PM Vojislav Kostunica.

The president of Romanian is also going to talk to representatives of the Romanian community in Serbia and visit the Romanian Orthodox Church in Varset. He will also visit Romanian troops in Pristina, Peci and Gorazdevak.

Presidency Administration mentions: "The agenda of meetings with officials from Serbia and Montenegro focuses on expressing one more time Romania's support to Serbia and Montenegro with view to reaching European and Euro-Atlantic structures. The meetings are also going to highlight how important it is to respect the rights of persons belonging to national minorities. It is also scheduled the intention to take up means to intensify economic relations between the two states." The Romanian official intends to take up the evolution in the Western Balkans as well. (A.H.)

"Serbia's accession isn't negotiable"

Just before setting out the Romanian president has been interviewed by the well-known journalist from Belgrade in Bucharest, Milan Petrovici. ZIUA is the only Romanian daily to deliver this interview to readers. (D.E.)

Rep.: Are you satisfied with the Serbian-Romanian relations? What is positive and what is not working out well?

T.B.: I am satisfied with the dialogue and the political relations we have got with Serbia and Montenegro and with Belgrade in particular. In the last eight months I met with president Zvetozar Marovic and president Boris Tadic too. Last week I had a meeting with Vojislav Kostunica. Therefore the political dialogue is real and it is after solutions for the region. I am convinced there will be solutions to security in the Western Balkans. On the other hand, there is some dissatisfaction with rather scarce economic relations, as compared to the two states' potential and tradition in economic exchange. But it is certain that the progress made in the last three years will continue. I am convinced that in 2-3 years' time we will achieve a high level of economic exchanges. It is no secret that we have traditionally been in terms with the Serbians and we are trying to contribute to secure the concept of Serbia's national territory. This is why I believe we have much work to do together.

"We hosted the JAT air fleet against NATO bombing"

Rep.: We, the Serbians, know little about something you did to save the JAF air fleet just one day before the start of the bombing in 1999. What was there behind your decision as a minister of transport to open the air corridor for the whole civil air fleet of the JAF to land in Bucharest, whereas Constantinescu's Administration agreed to the NATO bombing against Serbia?

T.B.: I was part of that Administration too, so I can't say Mr. Constantinescu made a decision I disagreed with. Therefore I am responsible for the event together with president Constantinescu. There was a request from JAF company, the state secretary for aviation informed me at once. I contacted the head of the Romanian Army and together we coordinated the pass of JAT planes. There was no aggression against them. On the contrary, Baneasa airport was available to them, where several planes stayed till Monday. I think any reasonable minister of transport would have made the same decision. The JAT wasn't fighting a war against NATO.

Rep.: Can you realize how such a decision sounds like for Serbians today?

T.B.: I don't know how it sounds like. I did my duty as a minister of transport, with view to a solicitation I was entitled to approve or disapprove of. My decision was to approve of it so that we could host the JAT air fleet on the Bucharest airport.

Rep.: Were there no other implications?

B.T.: Yes, there was compassion.

Romania is against the making of the Kosovo state

Rep.: Your plan on the Kosovo issue has led to international interest and controversy as well. It was welcome in Serbia. I would like you to be more specific and tell us what made you take such firm attitude against the independence of the Kosovo province?

T.B.: The simple concept Romania has traditionally promoted in foreign affairs. This concept is called the inviolability of borders. We surely live in a modern world, in which the desire to be autonomous is present in many parts of Europe. I think we should look into it. But from here to changes on the frontiers of an independent and sovereign state it is a long way to go. We too believe that Kosovo needs a European solution. It can come from the French autonomy pattern and assume the Belgian one too. Still we believe no one can doubt a European state's borders. From this our solution to oppose the making of a different state and our wish to get the EU more involved in the Kosovo issue. This is sure to help us talk about European standards on autonomy that need to be negotiated. I think the only thing negotiable is the degree of autonomy and whether Serbia stays a whole or not.

Rep.: Romania is about to join the EU. Still there are voices claiming different things. In the West some are claming Romania isn't ready to join the EU in 2007. But you claim everything will go on as estimated. What are your reasons?

T.B.: I am relying on the reality I know. I know what our government have been achieving, I know the progress made with the accession. I know how keen the government, all state institutions and myself have been on meeting the requirements in the Treaty of Accession signed last April in Luxembourg. (...)

We have been working on it since last April and preparations are good. Only those who have no knowledge of Romania's progress make allegations about Romania's entry likely or not in January 1, 2007. But apart from what politicians know or don't know about the real state of things, there are the EU reports showing Romania has constantly met requirements. Since I know the situation we are in, I have got no doubts about our successful accession to the EU. (...)