(Press conference at the Romanian Ministry of Defense in Bucharest following global posture consultations. Participating were Douglas J. Feith, under secretary of defense for policy, and Ioan Mircea Pascu, Romanian minister of national defense.)
Pascu: Thank you for being here. This visit marks the start of the official dialogue on a [topic of] major interest for the public opinion and I would like to remark the fact that the United States has decided for this strategic, global way of thinking regarding the remodeling of the U.S. global posture to be made by consultations.
As you know, Mr. Feith and Mr. Grossman have started this tour in the allied and partner countries with a briefing in Brussels and we discussed today about the general issues that form the substance of this global strategic thinking regarding the remodeling of the American posture. We had a discussion with General Talpes and with Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana at the Supreme Council of National Defence. After that, we continued the discussion here, at the Defense Ministry, and we believe that this is the moment when we start to understand the fundamentals of the American strategy on this issue.
Mr. Grossman is visiting other capitals, and Mr. Feith will leave from here somewhere else. This is a process in which consultation will be a fundamental characteristic. With this short introduction, I kindly ask Mr. Feith to say a few words.
Feith: Thank you, Minister Pascu. I am pleased to be here, in Bucharest. The United States has developed in recent years a particularly good relationship with Romania. We’ve been cooperating on defense matters and we are pleased to be working with Romanian forces in the war on terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the U.S. connection to Romania is an important element of our connection to the North-Atlantic Alliance. The fact that Romania is going to come into the Alliance together with a number of other countries is one of the new important strategic circumstances that are behind the rethinking by the United States the way we are reposturing our forces around the world.
Now, the Cold War is over and the strategic environment in the world is different, we are looking to rearrange the way we are postured around the world, to make sure that our alliances remain strong going into the future, and they will remain capable and relevant to dealing with the kinds the threats that we may face in the next decades. The countries with whom we cooperate in maintaining this posture around the world are sovereign countries and we respect their sovereignty, which is why we are going around having consultations, making sure that we harmonize our strategic thinking and come to a common understanding of what serves our bilateral relations and our trans-Atlantic relations.
One of the main lessons that we’ve learned about military affairs in recent years is that is now possible to have important military effects, strategic effects, with smaller forces than we were required to have for such effects in past years. What we are looking to do is to make sure that we have good, strong military capabilities that are forward in the world. But we know now that we do not need to increase our forces abroad in order to increase our capabilities abroad.
What we are interested in doing as we realign our global posture is taking advantage of the opportunity with a much lighter footprint, to have the kinds of capabilities around the world that will allow us to react quickly with easily deployed forces, with lighter forces, to provide security and shore up our commitments around the world. But we do not need that kind of base structure, or heavy footprint, that were characteristic of the Cold War. As the Defense Minister said, we have started these consultations at a rather broad level of general discussion of strategy and policy, we have not gotten into specific discussions about which facilities might be moved or created or where, so I want to anticipate a number of your questions. If you ask what we have decided to do, we didn’t decide to do anything. The one decision that President Bush has made is that we are going to revise our global posture. He has not decided how we are going to do that and he is not going to make decisions until after this round and later rounds of consultations occur. As I mentioned, this round is at a strategic, or conceptual level. There will be, after the first of the year [January 1], further rounds of consultations when we’ll get into discussions of detail.
Elena Lasconi [PRO TV]: For Under Secretary Feith. We expected for you to give us such an answer, that you won’t communicate the bases, and their number, that you will going to use in Romania, so I would like to ask you on cardinal points: north, south, central zone of Romania. Which is the zone that you will use and, at the beginning, how many American soldiers will be permanently deployed in Romania.
Feith: I don’t think I have anything more to add than that we are here, that there will be follow-up consultations. When we think about our realignment within Europe, we are thinking of Romania, obviously, because we are here discussing this issue with them and we’ll be having follow-up discussions here.
Alison Mutler [Associated Press]: This morning on the BBC there was a report that the Pentagon, as far as the reconstruction of Iraq went, would be giving contracts the countries that had been members of the Coalition of the Willing. 20 billion dollars, I understand, worth of contracts. Did you discuss this with Romania, which was a member of the Coalition of the Willing?
Feith: First of all, my understanding is that it is more than 20 billion dollars. There is a little bit less than 20 billion dollars that was appropriated by the United States, but there are other funds, Iraqi funds and other funds being contributed by other countries for the reconstruction of Iraq.
I believe that what you were referring to is that there will be a list of countries whose companies will be eligible for prime contracts for the U.S. appropriated funds. I know that that list is supposed to be published or it is just about to be published or is going to be published in coming days. That was not a topic of discussion here but I am aware that work is under way in getting that list published. Romania is on the list with the Coalition countries to be sure and Romania has made an important contribution to the Coalition.
Anca Mazilu [Realitatea TV]: Please, tell us, if in this moment Romania is favored ahead of Bulgaria, if on the territory of our country there will exist American military units and which are the weapons that you have evaluated and that you would need in Romania, as far as you seen.
Feith: No decisions have been made and we are not talking about specific weapon systems. That’s far beyond the scope of the discussions that we had here and, as far as preferences, we are obviously not expressing preferences among allies. We have valuable relationships with countries throughout the Alliance and those countries who are coming into the Alliance and we’re consulting very broadly.
Pascu: I would like to add something. We have never perceived this as a competition, because we believe that every country has its advantages and individual merits and as such we discussed about what we have, not about what other have or might not have. So, if others did something else in their discussions that is their problem.
Jana Popescu [Televiziunea România de Mâine]: When you will finally take the decision to realign the U.S. forces, how much will you be influenced by the bilateral agreements of non-extradition to the ICC?
Feith: That is a factor, when we talk about our global posture. This is one of the topics that we did discuss. The concept of posture has a number of elements. It’s much more than just facilities, it’s not just about bases or forward operating sites or what we call cooperative security locations, it’s not just that issue of facilities and infrastructure, it’s also about activities that we do in common with other countries, it’s also relationships that we’ve developed, that allow us to harmonize our strategic thinking, and it’s also the appropriate legal arrangements that we need to have, and among those relevant legal arrangements are status of forces agreements, the kind of agreement to which you referred, the Article 98 agreement under the ICC treaty, and other types of legal arrangements. All of that represents the different facets of the concept of posture and when we are going to be making our review and the President is going to make his decision, he is going to take many, many factors into account.
Mihai Ursu [Naţional TV]: There was information regarding the evaluation of some military bases in Romania, the evaluation of some units, of some facilities. I would want to ask if this visit has also the purpose of evaluating some military units, if there were indeed some people to approach this issue and if so, where. And if you cannot tell us where they were, at least what kind of units.
Feith: We have received information about that from Romania, but we did not, during these consultations, specifically discuss that information that Romania had earlier provided to us. There will be follow-up consultations where we will begin to look at particular locations with various countries, Romania and others, and that would be the appropriate time to focus on that information that we’ve received from Romania.
Pascu: Because it was the last question I would like to say that we’ve discussed this issue of keeping informed the public opinion and political forces in Romania about these discussions. And, from this point of view, under the auspices of the Supreme Council of Defense, we are thinking to organize consultations with the Parliament leaders, the leaders of the political forces represented In the Parliament, with the leaders of opinion, so as all these issues to be clear for everybody. These things will be solved, the details will be set up in the next days and this is our intention, because it’s not an issue for the attention of some group’s only, it’s a true national issue. And this visit, of the American side in Romania is not for this government, but for Romania, so it’s our duty to expand the dialogue in this direction. And let’s not forget that we are talking about a very long process that goes beyond the political terms in office. And we are not talking about one or two political terms in office, we are talking about a long period of time.