Cincu military base, where Luxembourgish soldiers are currently deployed; Credit: Ministry of National Defence of Romania

On Friday 29 March 2024, Romania is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); this year (April) also marks the 75th anniversary of NATO. had the opportunity to speak with the Romanian Ambassador to Luxembourg, Alexandrina-Livia Rusu, to learn more about this milestone and how it is being marked both in Romania and in Luxembourg. How has NATO membership impacted and / or benefited Romania in the past 20 years?

Ambassador Alexandrina-Livia Rusu: Romania's accession to NATO took place in the context of a profound transformation of the Euro-Atlantic security architecture at the time. NATO's post-Cold War expansion was an integral part of the process of adapting the Alliance to the new strategic realities. NATO is an alliance of democratic values. The President of Romania has recently summarised in a very consistent manner the way NATO membership has impacted Romania for the last 20 years. The cardinal values of the Alliance, including the rule of law, respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, have been the compass that has guided our country towards the consolidation of a genuine democracy. And, even more crucially, the NATO umbrella has provided us with the strongest security guarantees in history.

Romania would not have been able to develop economically, would not have attracted capital and investors to help raise living standards if there were no solid guarantees of national security. And these guarantees are directly linked to our country's military modernisation, but also to our membership of the North Atlantic Alliance.

On the other hand, Romania has proven to be a pillar of stability and security in the region. We are among the Allies who from the very beginning made the commitment for the allocation of 2% of GDP for Defence, and now we have reached the allocation of 2.5% of GDP, which means significant resources for the development of our military capabilities and capacities. Romania has also contributed and continues to contribute to NATO missions and operations. We have a significant military presence in the Western Balkans, we take a keen interest and we contribute directly to the security of the Black Sea region. Why is NATO membership important today (e.g. in light of the current geopolitical context), in your opinion?

Ambassador Alexandrina-Livia Rusu: We do live in the most difficult security times in decades, but we feel protected precisely because we are members of the North Atlantic Alliance. Never have NATO's security guarantees been more relevant than today. A few years ago, it was very difficult to foresee a military conflict in Europe, but now Europe lives in this reality, and we, Romanians, literally live in its geographical proximity. In these circumstances, NATO's borders are of paramount importance and strengthening the Eastern flank, which includes Romania, will remain a long-term priority. Thus we highly appreciate the presence of the allies in our country. A special thank you for their support goes to the Luxembourg military who, from 2023, are part of NATO's Enhanced Vigilance Activities (EVA) mission.

In view of the solid benefits achieved by Romania during its two decades of membership in the North Atlantic Alliance, our country remains a strong promoter of the Open Doors policy, supporting the efforts of the candidate countries to prepare for accession, both through bilateral channels and through NATO mechanisms. How is the Romanian Embassy marking this 20th anniversary milestone here in Luxembourg?

Ambassador Alexandrina-Livia Rusu: To mark this event, you are invited to a virtual photo exhibition which is going to be posted on 29 March on the Embassy's Facebook page and on our website. How is the anniversary being marked in Romania (e.g. government initiatives / events)?

Ambassador Alexandrina-Livia Rusu: The 20th anniversary will be marked by a series of events in Romania, targeting ordinary Romanians, as well as defence policy experts. The aim behind these events is to bring the Alliance's values and its role in global security to the forefront of public opinion. I can illustrate with a few examples: NATO@75 conference: NextGen Leadership and TechSec (in collaboration with the Polytechnic University of Bucharest); an anniversary exhibition dedicated to Romania's journey in NATO, with exhibition of documents, photos, anniversary posters, philatelic issues / postal and numismatic; Born in NATO - off and online campaign dedicated to young people born after 2004, carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of National Defence in high [secondary] schools in the country, with the aim of promoting the role and values of NATO as a political-military alliance; in the virtual environment it will take the form of short videos sharing their perception of the Alliance and its role in their lives.

(NATO flag being raised at the National Military Circle in Bucharest; Photo copyright: Agerpres)