Speech at the Seminar The Weimar Triangle and Ukraine”

Cracovia, October, 2002

 

Dear colleagues and friends,

 

The richness of our debate about the relations between Ukraine and the European countries West of Ukraine was so impressive that I think that my mission is both difficult, if I try to synthesize it, and easy - if I try to convey my admiration for the well-balanced and interesting panels, as well as for the deep insight of all the interventions. Perhaps the most interesting part of this interesting event was the presence, and the viewpoint, of the young generation of politicians and scholars. It is their Europe, their world, we are trying to build, and it is only natural to hear them identify their aspirations and the means to answer to these aspirations.

 

I was happy to be so graciously hosted in the marvelous city of Krakowia, which I first visited as the President of the Bucharest University, back in 1993. I was also very happy to meet here many new friends, as well as to meet again some very dear ones. I must confess, however, that the presence of one person at this conference is very significant for me. Ambassador Cealii, now minister Cealii, is not only a dear friend, he is my privileged witness, who can, better than many others, tell you that I am a champion of the strong ties between our countries and Ukraine, not only in words, but in actions. Ambassador Cealii was, indeed, Ukraine's ambassador in Bucharest during the negotiation, in 1997, of the political treaty between our two countries, and he knows better than anybody else that we succeeded to solve together, in very few months, problems, which had artificially divided our two countries for too many years and decades.

 

Many difficult aspects were solved by his diplomatic skill and dedication, many others, by our mutual strong will to build a friendly and long-lasting environment for our two peoples. I am certain he shares our mutual concern to deepen this relationship, as well as to multiply it at the scale of the whole region. Indeed, ambassador Cealii was involved as well in the first draft of a trilateral network, between Poland, Ukraine and Romania, an interesting experience, which deserves to be continued in the new circumstances we are confronted with.

I think that all the reports delivered in our conference agreed on the necessity to find new ways to multiply and to develop the cooperation at the Eastern border of the EU. It so happens that this oriental border is also the Eastern border of NATO, even more now that we expect a big-bang in Prague. This massive enlargement of the two main Euro-Atlantic organizations represents a huge effort of integration. Yet this effort should not stop short of promoting new concepts and a new perspective about their closest neighbors. We even have to think together about the meaning of the border concept in this new context. I think that neither NATO, nor the EU, can afford to miss the opportunity of re-defining the basic notions of their own limits, which must not become limitations.

 

Of course, traditional borders in the XIX-th century were strongholds which divided the continent; after the Second World War, at the same time when the Common Market countries experienced trans-border freedom inside their well-protected and prosperous space, the Eastern part of Europe was divided by a maze of barriers, armed guards, and rigid borderlines. Not only the West was divided from the East, with the Berlin Wall monstrosity as an epitome of the deadly incompatibility of the two halves. Inside the Socialist camp, each brotherly partner was sealed inside its own citadel, armed as against an enemy which was a friend only on paper, never in real life.

 

We must now re-define both sides of the borderline, and, as a great Romanian diplomat, Nicolae Titulescu, used to say, to spiritualize the borders. We cannot risk to divide the continent again, either between the prosperous and the less fortunate, or between the countries which will soon join the Atlantic alliance and eventually the European Union, and the ones which are not yet ready, or not willing, to do so now. A New Berlin Wall cannot be the solution for our century's Europe.

 

Let us tackle one of the most sensitive problems of the border area: illegal traffic and immigration. Theoretically, a drastic solution could be to enforce and strengthen the armed control, the police forces, the ugly and heavy materiality of a borderline. We know too well it would be not only very costly, but also dramatically ineffective.  On the contrary, a friendly and constant cooperation between our police forces, a regular exchange of information, a fair and open-minded shared effort can be very effective, and less of a burden. We experienced the concrete benefits of this kind of cooperation in the last three years, when the South-Eastern Cooperation Initiative, SECI, helped us to establish in Bucharest a Regional Center for Combating Cross-border crime, which is an outstanding asset for all our police forces, which can share the information from all the seven countries participating in the project, can organize combined actions, and can prevent many criminal actions. A similar team could be a realistic goal for our common action with Ukraine too.

 

Not to dwell too lengthily, I should say that we have so much to share, so many experiences to exchange and to talk about, that we'll never have the time to quarrel. It's up to us to build the New Frontier of a great and peaceful Europe; let us start now.