Speech held at the swearing-in ceremony as President of Romania before the plenary of the Romanian Parliament (21 December 2014)
Speaker of the Romanian Senate,
Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies,
President Ion Iliescu,
President Emil Constantinescu,
Distinguished representatives of religious denominations,
Your Royal Highness,
Distinguished members of the Romanian Parliament,
Your Excellency, Head of the Diplomatic Corps,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors,
President of the Constitutional Court,
Judges of the Constitutional Court,
Distinguished citizens, dear fellow citizens,
I am standing here today, aware of the stake of this moment for Romania’s future. I am grateful and honored by the trust that Romanian citizens have granted me – being their President. I assure them that I will be the President of all Romanians. I am deeply moved by the love for the country that fuelled the turnout and by the Romanians’ aspiration for freedom and prosperity.
Thank you, fellow citizens, for showing Romania’s genuine face to the entire world. 25 years after the fall of the Communist regime, you have once more made democracy and participation triumph.
People are much talking about expectations these days. About the Romanians’ hopes for their future, about the signal sent by the November 16 vote. After the wave of enthusiasm, a doubt of the past seems to timidly make its way among some of us. What if great expectations lead to disappointment?
I want to remove this doubt, as I have done to others before. And I am clearly telling Romanians that great expectations can lead to great achievements. And they will. For great expectations mean more responsibility, more effort, more commitment and more work from all of us. And I will be the first. The time when the political class begins to rise to expectations cannot be delayed too long. And it is not the fear of disappointment that should motivate politicians, but rather the fact that Romania is changing. The fact that a nation of citizens filled with aspirations, ideals and values will only accept to be represented by a political class that is up to par.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Romania of things well done is the commitment that I have made before the people and with which I embark on this path. By the end of my term in office, I want Romania to be the space of a different state of mind and a different social climate that could eventually accommodate stability, appreciation of value and calm. I am not referring to the apparent calm defined by the absence of debate, or to the calm that conceals resignation, but to the calm provided by freedom of choice, as options do exist. I am referring to the calm given by the confidence that prosperity emerges when everyone does their job and the conviction that together we are strong. A Romania where stability, calm and appreciation of value turn into cornerstones of normalcy will undoubtedly be attractive for investments. Jobs and prosperity wished by all Romanians can only emerge within such a climate.
We shall not allow Romania to remain the country of projects always failing to be completed, from Constitution to roads, the country of beautiful words and few acts, and the country that makes laws for the present, never for the future, for private interests rather than common wellbeing. Romania cannot continue to be the country of great expectations and small achievements, the country of wasted time and missed opportunities. And it shall not. By the end of my term in office, I want people to see that in Romania projects are successfully completed, that we have built solid institutions and that we have passed enduring laws and regulations. By the end of my term in office, I want us to share the satisfaction of having capitalized on each and every opportunity to build a stronger and more united Romania. But for this to happen, we must start working. Things will not happen overnight, nor will they happen on their own. Each stage will bring about challenges and traps. And resilience to change and the fear of novelty – which are often the greatest within the system – should not be underestimated. But we will overcome them all if we constantly bear in mind what we have committed to.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The first step in this process is the rebuilding of political institutions, called upon to represent citizens and exercise power at all levels. 2015 must be devoted to their reform and the building of an enduring state construction, for the next 50 years, not 5 years. I am particularly addressing the representatives of the political parties, in this respect. I am pleased to note the existence of the openness that I have requested to begin talks regarding:
- the review and modernisation of the Constitution,
- changing the electoral legislation – electing Parliament including the reduction in number of the MPs, electing local authorities, the vote by mail and the electronic vote,
- changing the political parties’ legislation – including their funding and the funding of electoral campaigns.
The great trap in the reform of political institutions is to draw it up for us today. The absence of a long-term approach is as damaging as the absence of change. I understand political reasons and mechanisms within parties. But I would like to ask those of you who belong to parties, to equally understand that we can no longer make circumstantial decisions. That the reconstruction of political institutions cannot start from party calculations, private interests, distribution of positions or strategies for the upcoming elections. I hope we all share the wisdom of not repeating past errors. If there is genuine political will, instead of mere declarations of intent, we will make decisions leading to an enduring construction, beyond transitory partisan interests.
In the field of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, as well as that of the fight against corruption, the steps that we have made so far must firmly be continued. Guaranteeing them and acting in line with them must become normalcy in Romania. The President holds an important role in this regard which I will certainly assume. But one principle must be clearly understood by the entire political class: there is no way for Romania other than that of a country free of corruption.
At the end of my term in office, I would like corruption to no longer top the public agenda, institutions to function for citizens, and politicians to have definitively understood that they work for the public service, not for personal or group interests.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The second essential chapter that we have to rebuild is that of big public systems. And not only that. We will have to look forward and ask ourselves how to make them function not only now, but for one or two generations ahead. We all have been saying this for years: education is a priority. We want the reform of healthcare. We want a pension system that can ensure a decent life. Although we all say we want them, why do we lack them? How come that, although we set them as priorities, education and healthcare are the first to bear the consequences of crises, circumstances and political scheming? These questions have answers that we know. If today we close a 25-year chapter and assume a new beginning, then it is time for us to approach big public systems differently. How do we build an efficient and competitive education system? What does a fair and efficient healthcare system look like? What do we do for Romania to be able to pay decent pensions in the long run?
How do we tackle the demographic issue? We will have to sit at the same table and reach consensus regarding these matters. I will soon invite political parties for consultations so we can jointly decide on three fundamental issues:
- what country goals we assume in these areas,
- a working and permanent dialogue method;
- and a roadmap with stages and actions, in order to move on from words to actions.
Governments will never find enough funds for healthcare and education. They will never have the courage to operate substantial changes or to reconsider the system, if they do not know where they are going and what destination they are heading for. Great changes are not made by expecting the perfect social, economic and political conditions. They are made by assuming a vision and endless work, responsibly and with determination, in order to fulfill that vision. When we do this, Romanians will no longer embark on a quest for their future abroad, and those who have left will want to return. And although reconstruction is not yet ready, they will want to make their own contribution to it. For then Romania will be a country in which politicians respect citizens, a country that knows what it wants and where it heads.
Ladies and gentlemen,
While in the field of domestic policy, we have to rebuild institutions and systems, as far as foreign policy and security are concerned, Romania reconfirms its options and takes on new roles. The political class in Romania may have many flaws, but it has an important merit: that of jointly assuming a clear and irreversible option with regard to foreign policy – that of having ensured Romania’s national security. The three pillars of our foreign policy are the Strategic Partnership with the United States of America and our NATO and EU memberships. The key words with regard to our foreign policy are continuity and predictability. The strategic directions that the Romanian state will pursue will be continued during my term in office. I want us to do even more. I want us to deepen the Strategic Partnership with the United States not only in the military sector, but also in the field of economic and cultural exchanges. As regards our NATO membership, I want to clearly state one thing. We cannot only be the beneficiaries of a security system. We must also assume the role of security providers. I have clearly said that the Defence budget must increase by at least 2% of the GDP. I propose to you, all parliamentary parties, to reach, along with me, consensus on this matter, including on maintaining this budget level in the long run. If need be, I will go to discuss this project that is vital in the current geopolitical context, with our European partners. My intention is that, during the first 6 months of my term in office, pursuant to my constitutional powers, I would present the National Defence Strategy.
Last but not least, both the ruling regime and the opposition have to jointly ponder our role in the European Union. I want Romania to have a stronger voice in the European concert, a more solid profile and a greater contribution to building a united Europe.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I believe that we all hail the results of elections in the Republic of Moldova. These results have reaffirmed a clear option of the majority for a European path. This outcome obliges us, over the coming years, to provide the most important support to our brothers across the Prut River, so that their European integration objectives turn from desire to fact. I propose to you, parliamentary parties, as well as to all social players and the academic world, to organize national consensus on this objective. This is not merely about declarations, but primarily about concrete action formulas, whereby our support for the Republic of Moldova’s European integration is effective and efficient.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear fellow Romanians,
We all want a profound transformation of the society in which we live, of Romania as a whole.
Legislation changes are just a step. They must be accompanied by change in mentalities, practices and working methods. I want a Romania that steers clear from sensationalism that has become the norm. I want a Romania where there is no time for putting up a show, because the power and the opposition are busy working, where the President, the Government and Parliament work, each with their attributes and in their capacity. One of the practices that we must leave behind now, as we close this historical stage, is that of polite statements. They affect trust and serve no purpose. A thing that is well done means that we will build consensus, not just in statements, but in action, with measurable results.
It means that we have the duty to regularly come before the Romanians and honestly and responsibly inform them of the stages that we have undergone, of the stage that we are in, how many tasks we have completed and what is next. This is how I will act in my capacity as President of Romania.
Above all, I want a strong nation. The Romanian nation is greater than the sum of its interests, ambitions and even individual successes. We are not a mere group of people bound by a community of traditions, language, history and space. We are one nation of values and especially of goals. A nation of citizens aware of what they pursue in Europe and in the world, and of what they desire for themselves. It is an honor for me to be the President of this nation. I want every Romanian to genuinely view being part of this nation as an honor and a source of pride. We live in a world in which we want things to move fast and results to be instant, a world in which asking someone for trust and patience is a challenge. And having trust and patience is an even greater challenge. However, I request that from you. I do not request that for me, but for you to have trust and patience with one another and with ourselves, as a nation. For it is only with them that we can make an enduring construction.
I place my entire strength and skill in the service of the Romanian people, so that in 5 years’ time we are able to say that Romania is the country that has amazed the world, with its transformation and reconstruction.