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Annual meeting at the Cotroceni Palace with the heads of the diplomatic missions accredited in Bucharest

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The President of Romania, Mr. Klaus Iohannis, held a speech on Thursday, 16 January 2020, at the Cotroceni Palace, on the occasion of the annual meeting with the heads of the diplomatic missions accredited in Bucharest.

The text of the speech, as translated, can be read below:

Thank you very much, Mr. Dean of the Diplomatic Corps for your kind words!

Mr. Minister of Foreign Affairs,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very honoured to host our traditional meeting shortly after the beginning of my new mandate, during a period expected to be vital for our future, marked by many important challenges, but also opportunities.

I thank you for the good cooperation we have had so far and I am fully confident we will consolidate our relations in the next five years.

The 2019 was an important year, filled with symbolism for Romania.

Besides the two historic moments mentioned by His Excellency, the Apostolic Nuncio – the Sibiu Summit and the visit in Romania of His Holiness, Pope Francis, I would like to recall the recent anniversary of 30 years since the Revolution through which the Romanian people regained their freedom, but also the justice referendum, which I have convened and was won by the Romanian society, fully mature in the defence of the rule of law, and also the European and Presidential elections.

I would like to add to all these our first Presidency of the Council of the European Union, a successful Presidency with important achievements, which brought to Romania a strengthened profile, including through the Sibiu Declaration, which laid the foundations of the Strategic Agenda of the European Union for the next 5 years.

At the same time, 2019 brought Romania a Government that resonates with the President in all governing dimensions, including foreign affairs. I can assure you, with all responsibility, I will continue to watch over Romania so that it remains a vector of stability and a staunch promotor of democracy.

Our foreign policy will continue to advance, as it was the case until now, under the sign of continuity and predictability, but, naturally, there will be certain accents and nuances designed to offer more coherence and consistency.

Our membership in the European Union and NATO, alongside our strategic partnership with the United States remain the key pillars of our foreign policy or, as I have called them last year, “the strategic conceptual triad of Romania’s foreign policy”.

These pillars go together with the profound attachment of our country to multilateralism and international law.

As for the European Union, we want to capitalize on the experience gained during our EU Presidency last year. We have proven that we are a mature and responsible member of the European Union, capable of involving and assuming complex objectives in favour of consolidating the European project.

As a constant supporter of the idea of a stronger Europe, we will contribute to strengthening the European project on the basis of an honest and open partnership with all Member States and European institutions.

We will act in favour of a stronger, more united, more competitive and inclusive Union, more secure and closer to all its citizens. These were, in fact, the main messages of the Sibiu Declaration.

Therefore, we intend to be actively involved in the Conference on the Future of Europe.

We need a common approach on the major issues at the European level, such as climate change, the digital agenda, the economic growth or deepening the Internal Market, migration and asylum, agreeing to an ambitious budget of the Union, the enlargement policy, promoting the European values and consolidating the EU’s external action.

Stimulating an increased convergence across the European Union remains a major objective, as a basis for a balanced advancement of all European policies. A strong European Union, capable of reducing the existing discrepancies and, at the same time, responding to the new challenges, needs an appropriate budget, according to its ambitions.

Romania will continue to support the Union's enlargement policy, especially the opening of the accession negotiations for the two candidate states – the Republic of Northern Macedonia and Albania - as soon as possible. The discussion about the efficiency of the enlargement methodology should not in any case block or delay this process.

At the same time, we will continue to act for Romania’s accession to the Schengen Area, which can substantially contribute to consolidating the security for the whole area of free movement across the European Union. Additionally, we will aim to joining the Eurozone, when all the conditions are met.

In the short term, the UK will withdraw from the European Union. Even though we did not want this to happen, we will act in order for the friendship and the alliance that have bound us so far to remain strong between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

To the same extent, we aim to upgrading the strategic partnership between Romania and the United Kingdom, which we are currently working on.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The current international context is confronted with risks, challenges and threats - some of them ongoing and some of them newly emerging. More than ever, this requires a strong, united and effective North-Atlantic Alliance. NATO is a successful military Alliance and we will continue to work closely together with the rest of our Allies in order to make it even stronger.

This is in fact the underlying message that the NATO Leaders’ Meeting held last December in London sought to convey. And this is the track that Romania shall be focusing on, with renewed efforts, as an important Ally on NATO’s Eastern Flank.

We stand firm in our engagement to honour our commitments seeking to secure 2% of our GDP for our defence and we will continue working towards strengthening the North-Atlantic Alliance’s defence and deterrence posture, especially on its Eastern Flank.

At the same time, without prejudice to the Allied efforts in the Black Sea, Romania will support an increased NATO engagement in the Middle East and in fighting terrorism.

The strategic partnership with the United States remains a stable reference point in our policy, in the larger context of our consistent interest for strengthening the transatlantic bond. We will continue to work towards strengthening our bilateral relation starting from the strategic priorities set by the Joint Declaration adopted last August, upon my encounter with President Trump.

Beyond our excellent defence cooperation, we will seek to expand our bilateral cooperation through a more comprehensive definition of security. I refer here to fields such as cyber and telecommunication security or energy security. Some of our other important objectives for the upcoming period include promoting trade exchanges and increasing investments, strengthening our relations in the fields of education and research, alongside with progress on visa waiver for Romanian citizens.

A regional enterprise in which we continue to count on the United States’ support is the Three Seas Initiative, the priority in the coming period being the implementation of concrete interconnection projects, on the lines of the decisions adopted during the Summit in Bucharest in September 2018.

We will equally continue to support the Bucharest 9 Format, which is also of interest to the United States. This format continues to be highly valuable for the coordination of the Allies on NATO’s Eastern Flank.

We will pay close attention to the continuous development of the partnerships and strategic and special relations with Germany, France, Poland, Italy, Spain, The United Kingdom, Turkey or Israel, alongside those with all our direct neighbours.

On the Republic of Moldova, I shall highlight once more Romania’s standing position: the European track of the Republic of Moldova is the only and the safest path towards a deep and thorough reformation if its Institutions, capable to bring about concrete benefits to its citizens.

Unfortunately, like I said on previous occasions, we are not convinced that the current Government in Chisinau is pursuing this objective. Therefore, we shall seek to ensure continuation only to those projects targeting directly the citizens of the Republic of Moldova, to the projects that can make an impact on a local level and to the projects envisaged to ensure a strategic interconnectivity.

We shall resume our full-fledged cooperation only when the Government in Chisinau shall take concrete action geared towards continuing the Republic of Moldova’s European path, its reform process, especially in fields such as justice, administration and fighting corruption, capable to ensure its democratic path together with its predictability - both internally and externally.

Our guidelines, as set previously, remain also valid when addressing the Western Balkans and the states from the Eastern Partnership.

In a wider perspective, our foreign policy priorities are pursuing strengthening our relations, including our economic ties, with other states and regions of interest around the globe. I shall mention here Japan, South Korea, China, India and also states from around Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Throughout 2020, we shall be seeking to strengthen the openings reached over the past two years, some of them unprecedented.

We wish to achieve a meaningful Strategic Partnership with Japan, a Partnership that shall strengthen the results of the historical visit paid to Bucharest by Prime-Minister Shinzo Abe back in 2018. We look forward to meeting this objective next year, on the anniversary of the Centennial of our political and diplomatic relations.

With regards to the recent crisis in the Middle East, as you might know, I have already stated Romania's position, so I will not reiterate it in detail. Nevertheless, I want to emphasize that the negative effects of this crisis go well beyond the regional level. They can impact on European and global security as well.

Therefore, negotiations and efforts aiming at achieving dialogue, alongside with stabilization and reconstruction in this area must continue. I call on all our partners to act together towards this purpose.

Romania supports the efforts of the European Union, which needs to be more involved, alongside with those of its strategic partners and of the international community, employed in order to de-escalate the situation, to favour dialogue and to seek sustainable solutions.

We need solutions that would restore peace in the region and safety for all the people concerned - from the Middle East, Europe, the United States or other areas, whether it concerns the situation in Iraq, the Iran file or developments in Libya. Progress is also needed in the Syrian file, in Yemen, but also in the Middle East Peace Process, on which Romania's position remains unchanged.

At the same time, the fight against terrorism is not over yet; we need to carry it on more united and with more solidarity. As I have already mentioned, NATO can play here an increased role.

Before I close, I would like to come back to Romania’s support for multilateralism, within the United Nations, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and other international organizations. Romania will actively support upholding the international law alongside with a constant and meaningful dialogue in order to secure the international stability and security.

At the same time, I reiterate Romania’s objective to become member of OECD as soon as possible and I thank you for your support.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I hope 2020 to be the year of new beginnings, of positive transformations and of rewarded efforts for each of your countries and organisations!

Thank you all and I wish you a Happy New Year!



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