Romania, United States Nearing Agreement on Military Bases
24 October 2005
Treaty talks to conclude "very soon" for Black Sea sites, NSC's Hadley says
By Vince Crawley
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington – The United States and Romania expect to reach an agreement “very soon” to set up American military facilities on or near the Black Sea, U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said October 23 in Bucharest, Romania.
The negotiations have concluded and “only minor details are still pending,” Romanian President Traian Basescu said during a news conference with Hadley at Cotroceni Palace.
Basescu said the sites in Romania likely would include the port city of Constanta as well as the Babadag training area just south of Lake Razelm on the Danube Delta. Another possible site would be near the city of Fetesti, about midway between Bucharest and Constanta.
U.S. Department of Defense officials previously had announced that Black Sea facilities, if approved, would be used mainly as temporary bases for a few thousand troops on short assignments. The troops’ home bases would remain in the United States or Germany. About 100 American personnel would be on long-term assignment in the region as part of an Eastern European Task Force.
The potential bases in Romania are part of a larger reorganization of U.S. military deployment around the globe. The U.S. European Command plans to trim its military presence from 112,000 troops to about 68,500 over the next several years. Those forces remaining in Europe will focus on being able swiftly to deploy to temporary locations in the Balkans and southeast Europe, Eurasia and Africa.
“The discussions between the United States and Romania on this subject have been under way for some time, and they have made very good progress,” Hadley said during the October 23 news conference.
“There is an issue of finalizing the relevant agreement and then signing it,” he said. “The framework basically allows access to facilities so as to facilitate cooperation between the forces of the United States and Romania.”
“We look forward to the conclusion of the agreement very soon,” Hadley added.
Basescu told reporters that he could discuss few details of the pending agreement. Asked about specific locations, he said, “You can imagine the area Babadag, Constanta and, maybe, Fetesti.”
In practical terms, he said, “the agreement is with the [U.S.] State Department and the [Romanian] Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the last details. I believe that only minor details are still pending, and the signature of the treaty has become an administrative issue.”
Among the issues still being discussed is who within the U.S. government would visit Romania to conclude the treaty formally, Basescu said.
Both Romania and neighboring Bulgaria have allowed U.S. forces to use their military facilities on a recurring basis. Both nations allowed U.S. troops to use their facilities as staging areas for Iraq and Afghanistan operations, and this close cooperation led to President Bush calling for their swift admission to NATO, which took place in 2004.
“We are here also to say thank you to the government of Romania and the Romanian people for the support they have given on so many important issues,” Hadley said during the news conference. “We are allies in the struggle against terror in Afghanistan and in Iraq.”
The Black Sea is considered a strategic transit point between Europe and Eurasia.
The transcript of the news conference is available on the U.S. Embassy Bucharest Web site.
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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