Speech of President of Romania, Mr. Klaus Iohannis, at the reception of the heads of missions and the consuls general on the occasion of the Annual Reunion of the Romanian Diplomatic Corps
12:00 | 27 August 2019
Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Minister Delegate for European Affairs,
Your Excellencies, Heads of diplomatic and consular missions,
Welcome again to Cotroceni Palace!
Since 2015, when we first met in this format, I have established with most of you a constructive dialogue, through which we collaborated to promote Romania’s national interests abroad.
Let me assure you that I appreciate the efforts you are making along with the other Romanian diplomats.
Therefore, after almost five years of mandate as President of Romania and head of the country’s foreign policy, this meeting is a good opportunity to assess with responsibility and lucidity the activity we have undertaken during this period and to project our short and long-term strategic priorities.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the last five years, I have taken permanent action to secure the stability and predictability of Romania’s foreign policy, which are vital to our country’s credibility as an external actor. Our foreign policy actions addressed the efficient identification of sustainable solutions to the challenges Romania is facing , so that we meet our national objectives, for the benefit of our citizens.
Throughout these years, our foreign policy has focused on the following key-coordinates - the consolidation of Romania’s role in the European Union and NATO and the strengthening and expansion of the Strategic Partnership with the United States of America. These essential guidelines continue to be utterly important and you bear the responsibility to further consolidate them.
Moreover, our foreign policy actions and priorities have aimed at consolidating Romania’s other strategic partnerships and relations, as well as the relations our country has developed with other states.
During 2015-2019, I made 25 bilateral visits abroad and I hosted over 40 heads of state and government in Romania, actions to which you decisively contributed.
During my bilateral and multilateral meetings, I have constantly followed, and this has been a priority, the consolidation of Romania as a state able to deliver its assumed commitments, able to propose strategic positions and solutions that bring added value and consolidate Romania’s international profile.
With regard to our European dimension, the last five years had a particular significance for Romania, including by celebrating, in 2017, 10 years since our country acceded to the European Union.
This year we have successfully fulfilled Romania’s first Presidency of the Council of the European Union, a reason of great satisfaction.
Therefore, we have succeeded in producing important, consensual results, for the benefit of the European project, and have contributed to consolidating a more coherent, more united and stronger Union.
As President of Romania, I have continually pleaded that unity is the source of power for the Union, both domestically and externally. I have always considered that we need an inclusive Union, which does not leave any of its Member States or any European citizen behind.
Certainly, the most important moment of our action at European level was the Sibiu Summit, on the 9th of May 2019.
We have witnessed a historical moment when, alongside the other European leaders, we reaffirmed our common willingness and unity of the Member States with regard to the shared values and objectives that the Union represents.
The Sibiu Declaration will remain a relevant benchmark: the most important message of the Declaration – the so called «Sibiu spirit» – is the confirmation of our readiness to carry on the European project together.
Moreover, throughout its Presidency, Romania proved its deep commitment to consolidating the transatlantic relation. We took significant efforts to project a positive European Union-United States agenda and to deepen the dialogue between the two sides, particularly on the still existing divergent topics.
Romania has to fulfil some other important objectives: accession to the Schengen Area, which will significantly contribute to consolidating the security of the entire area of free movement of the Union, and Eurozone accession, when all conditions have been met.
We have to capitalise efficiently the trust we have gained by successfully fulfilling our Presidency of the Council of the European Union and you, as heads of missions, can play a key-role in meeting this objective.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
15 years after our accession to NATO, which we are celebrating this year, we can state that Romania has decisively consolidated its role of allied state and regional actor that actively takes part in ensuring the Euro-Atlantic and international security and it is acknowledged as a substantial contributor to implementing NATO’s objectives in the current international context.
The significant damaging of the security situation in Europe’s Eastern and Southern neighbourhood prompted within NATO an accelerated process to tailor to the new realities.
For Romania, the measures that have been adopted at allied level have had and still have a particular importance for the consolidation of our national security, mainly those addressing the Eastern Flank and, obviously, the Black Sea region.
The decisions taken at the last three NATO Summits speak for themselves. We have achieved an enhanced allied presence in Romania and in the Black Sea region by establishing a tailored forward presence, by increasing NATO’s maritime presence and by consolidating Romania’s air defence; a strengthened recognition of the strategic relevance of the Black Sea for the Euro-Atlantic security; the consolidation of NATO’s Eastern Flank and ensuring a concrete vision and actions in this regard, including by organising the first meeting of the North-Atlantic Council devoted to security at the Black Sea.
We will continue to actively support these objectives at the NATO Summit in London, which will take place at the end of this year.
Starting with 2017, our country has made significant progress in increasing the defence budget for spending on procurement and modernisation of our armed forces. 2% for defence is the result of the initiative I took right at the beginning of my mandate and which has brought about recognition from our allies, as well as concrete benefits for Romania’s security.
To support the allied decisions corresponding to Romania’s security interests and objectives, together with all Presidents of the states on NATO’s Eastern Flank, we have undertaken consistent preparing activity.
The platform of dialogue and consultation that contributed a lot to these achievements is the Bucharest Format, the so called B9 Format, an initiative I have launched in 2015, together with the President of Poland during the Summit I hosted here, in Bucharest.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Strategic Partnership with the United States, an essential pillar of Romania’s foreign policy, has turned more robust in this period and gained more substance and endurance. The scope of our political relations has widened to a maximum after my meetings at the White House, both in 2017 and last week.
My visit in June 2017 was the first visit of a head of state from Central and Eastern Europe during the mandate of the new American Administration and marked the relaunching of our Strategic Partnership.
My meeting with President Trump highlighted the commitment of the United States of America to the security in the region, Romania included, a recognition of our country’s capacity to be a security provider and to act in order to project our shared values in the region.
On 20 August 2019, I had another excellent and very substantial talk with President Trump. The Joint Statement we adopted decisively marks the deepening of our Strategic Partnership in key fields.
On this occasion, I talked to the President of the United States about ensuring a substantial US military presence in Romania. Indeed, against the current international background, which is very complex, the security and defence dimension of the Strategic Partnership with the United States has reached a level of excellence.
Moreover, I highlighted that, beyond the political-military component, it is essential to develop the bilateral cooperation on other dimensions, especially the economic and investment one – and I encouraged American involvement in strategic projects in Romania.
We have to take further action to consolidate the political bilateral dialogue, to enhance the military and security cooperation, to increase the USA’s strategic investment presence in Romania, mainly in the energy field, to increase trade and strengthen coordination with regard to regional and global evolutions.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have to continue to pay close attention also to consolidating other bilateral strategic partnerships and relations – I will refer only to some of them now.
Our relation with the Republic of Moldova is a top priority for Romania and for me, personally.
In the context of the recent evolutions in the Republic of Moldova, Romania supported, through its actions, the peaceful transfer of power that took place in Chișinău on 14 June and put an end to the political crisis.
On 2 July 2019, I had the pleasure to meet with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova during her first visit abroad since she took over her mandate.
I reiterated then, as I do now, the full support of Romania, as well as my personal support, as the new government has firmly committed to the European course and to advancing the Strategic Partnership for the Republic of Moldova’s European integration.
Additionally, we have decided to carry on the cooperation projects, mainly those of strategic interconnection, which Romania is running in the Republic of Moldova, as well as those referring to consolidating the institutions in the Republic of Moldova.
I encourage you to continue working towards maximizing the benefits of the European Union’s action in the Republic of Moldova.
Our relation with France reached a higher level last year. During my visit to Paris in November 2018, we launched the most comprehensive bilateral event in the last decades: the Romania-France Season.
In this context, President Macron and I signed a new Political Declaration within the Strategic Partnership, to upgrade cooperation between our countries and to voice our readiness to deepen it in future.
Our relation with Germany is very dynamic and it is sustained by strong economic, social and interpersonal ties.
Germany remains our main trade partner and among the first three investors in the Romanian economy. During my five years mandate, I had close relations at Chancellor and Federal President level, as well as at Minister President level, so that today we can talk about a special relation, with strategic character, with Germany.
Against this background, it is not a coincidence that, in January, I represented Romania, as Presidency of the Council of the European Union, at the signing ceremony of the Franco-German Treaty on Cooperation and Integration, in Aachen, a very significant moment for the Paris-Berlin bilateral cooperation and for the future of the European Union.
Last year’s state visit to Italy, 10 years after the Declaration on the Strategic Enhanced Partnership was signed, the first state visit in the last 45 years, meant a new important step in deepening our strategic relation and highlighted the excellent level of our bilateral political, economic and sectoral cooperation.
At the same time, I had the pleasure to meet the representatives of the Romanians living in Italy, a remarkable vector of our bilateral partnership, a very well integrated community into the Italian society, which brings a substantial contribution to the development of the hosting country.
Moreover, this year’s Apostolic visit of His Holiness Pope Francis in Romania undoubtedly represented a benchmark with a particular visibility in the recent history of Romania, and for our relation with the Holy See. It was one of the most substantial apostolic visits on the European continent, which validated our country as a genuine model of ethnic and religious tolerance.
Our very good relations with Poland are marked this year, in both states, by celebrations marking 100 years of diplomatic relations and 10 years of Strategic Partnership.
Signed in 2009, our Strategic Partnership is based on security as its main pillar, but we intend to expand and deepen our economic collaboration too.
Over the latest years, our relation with Poland has diversified and expanded also within successful regional initiatives such as the Bucharest Format and the Three Seas Initiative.
These are only part of Romania’s important relations with relevant states. There are other relations to be mentioned, such as our relation with Great Britain, which enjoys the highly beneficial contribution, for Romania’s image and not only, of His Royal Highness Prince of Wales. After Brexit has been concluded, it will be important for us to update and deepen the strategic partnership with Great Britain, with which we cooperate very well on the security dimension and with which we need to properly develop collaboration on the economic field, as well as other fields.
With regard to Japan, during Prime Minister Abe’s historical visit last year, we decided to build a relevant strategic partnership.
All these efforts and results urge you to continue to take action to consolidate our bilateral strategic partnerships and relations, each having its own specific and depth.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As regards the other main guidelines of our diplomatic action, which we discussed every year, our focus will remain the same. Our foreign policy is consistent, either with regard to the Western Balkans, the South Caucasus, Central Asia and the Middle East or Asia, Latin America and Africa.
At the same time, we have made permanent efforts to outline our profile as visible and proactive as possible at regional level.
I would like to refer to the Three Seas Initiative. Romania, through the Summit and the Business Forum I hosted in 2018, has fundamentally contributed to the Initiative’s political and conceptual maturity, as well to moving to the phase of pragmatic developments.
Romania has to continue to stay involved in this Initiative’s success , to take action to make pragmatic use of the available instruments and to put into practice the agreed priority projects.
Concurrently, we will continue to cooperate on security matters within the trilateral dialogue with Poland and Turkey, which is another strategic partner of Romania.
Regrettably, we cannot mark today, at the Annual Reunion of the Diplomatic Corps, Romania’s election as a non-permanent member in the UN Security Council, despite your sustained efforts and the substantial number of supporters.
Romania was boycotted by the irresponsible political statements of certain Romanian high officials, which were uttered with no mandate and which contradict traditional positions in the Romanian foreign policy.
These severe sideslips resulted in some states withdrawing their support, which they had already voiced, as well as creating the impression, a wrong one in essence, that sensible and complex foreign policy files lack in predictability.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The protection of the interests of the Romanian citizens who chose to live outside our borders has to be your permanent priority.
Unfortunately, on 26 May we witnessed the humiliations suffered by the Romanian citizens who wanted to make use of their constitutional right to vote, which was gained in December ’89 with great sacrifice.
Such humiliations shall never happen again!
I am aware that your efforts depend on the decisions and coordination from the assigned authorities in Romania.
I thank all the missions that, after the events on 26 May, sent their assessments and their suggestions to improve the conditions to vote.
As you know, shortly after 26 May, I set up a working group in the Presidential Administration, which identified the required measures to be taken so that all the citizens can exercise their right to vote and I asked the Government and the Parliament to elaborate and adopt a law in this regard as soon as possible.
Additionally, the National Political Agreement I initiated on 13 June includes the pledge to translate into legislation the measures ensuring the full and effective exercise of the right to vote by all Romanian citizens.
Therefore, on 23 July I promulgated the law which is supposed to ensure for the Romanians abroad the possibility to now make use of their right to vote without waiting in a queue for hours, while being concerned they might not succeed to vote in the end. The assigned authorities have to organise their work properly and put these measures into practice efficiently and in good faith.
I demand the Government and the other authorities assigned by law to prove maximum of responsibility in order to put the legislation into practice and to organise the elections properly, including by efficiently informing people on the new provisions of the legislation – so as to make sure that all the Romanian citizens can exercise their right to freely vote.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our membership to NATO and to the European Union, the deepening of our Strategic Partnership with the USA, supporting multilateralism – all these together provide Romania with the highest level of security it has had till now and a profile which is consolidated internationally.
At the same time, the realities of the world we live in, when the risks and threats are growing and diversifying quickly, force us to take additional efforts so that we can continue to sustain our achievements. Therefore, I urge you to conduct a credible and predictable foreign policy in order to fulfil Romania’s national interest and for the benefit of its citizens.
Nicolae Titulescu once said: «Give me a good internal policy so that I can deliver a good foreign policy». Therefore, we cannot ignore Romania’s internal policy. On the current government crisis, the government reshuffle, the way out of the crisis, I will make a public statement tomorrow.
But you will return to your posts and will be asked about what is going on in Romania, about the solution to this crisis, and about the elections.
You will answer that Romania is a stable democracy, a consolidated democracy, through the referendum that took place on the 26th of May and which put forward the clear option of the Romanian citizens, an option for democracy, for the pro-European path, for a solid trans-Atlantic approach, for the rule of law, a fair justice system, and for the consolidation and the continuation of the fight against corruption.
You will answer that Romania will remain a democracy and a credible, stable partner under any circumstances.
Our partners and friends will ask you what is happening and how it is happening. You will answer that anything that happens in Romania will happen within the limits of the Constitution.
Romania is a consolidated democracy, in which the Constitution is respected, and, regardless of the solution, Romania will continue to be a serious partner, predictable, credible, engaged in the common initiatives which are underway.
Let me tell you that there are solutions and I will watch over. I will guarantee that these solutions are constitutional.
I trust your professional engagement, which is essential in this regard, and I wish you all success, in the benefit of Romanian citizens and Romania!”