Portuguese-Romanian ties excellent, with wide potential for improvement

by HE ANTÓNIO ANTAS DE CAMPOS, Portugal’s Ambassador in Bucharest

“On the occasion of the Portuguese National Day, I would like to render a special homage to Nine O’Clock and its entourage, that meaning their collaborators as well as their public.

Romania and Portugal are two countries, each positioned at its respective far end of Europe, each with an important geo-strategic position and each with a relevant contribution to European History. Both countries took part in decisive moments of the consolidation of European values and civilization. From ancient times when they both belonged to the Roman World up to the present, where they both form a strong partnership within the European Union and NATO.

The coinciding – or parallel – historic path left deep roots and marked our way of being, our culture, the affinities between our languages and the values we preserve.  They concern Human Rights, the defense of civil liberties, the respect for life and the assertion of the Rule of Law. These values are contributing to narrow the geographic distance between Portugal and Romania and our different regional locations. They proved to be very easy and rewarding for the deepening of our bilateral relations and the consolidation of the excellent level of cooperation both countries enjoy today.

Despite their different regional history, Romania and Portugal experienced occasional but relevant contacts along centuries, showing the openness of both one people in respect to the other. One may recall the meeting of Prince Pedro of Aviz, brother of Henry the Navigator,  himself an indefatigable traveler, with Dan II of Valachia in the XV century, or the tight blood linkage between both Royal Families during the 19th and even the 20th centuries. One of the main Romanian scholars, Mircea Eliade, spent several years in Portugal, where he wrote relevant works, not only about our country and culture, but also producing an important period of his own intellectual path. Also in Romania several literary works were written about Portugal, most probably inspired by the translation into the Romanian language of several relevant Portuguese authors, namely the poet Fernando Pessoa.

Taking into account the excellency of our relations, Portugal and Romania have already reached a significant level of cooperation, but one that still has a much wider political, economic and cultural potential. Deepening these ties will not only reinforce our capacity to contribute to the international cooperation and promote values inherited from our common European history – mainly through our openness to dialogue with people of different cultures and civilizations – but also with regard to a better world with more solidarity, justice and peace.

Concerning bilateral cooperation it is worth underlining the importance of academic and university exchanges. Until now language learning has been successfully pursued, but we should seriously consider the fact that universities and their development will have an important say in the future of our societies. The Portuguese language is taught in Romania both at secondary and university level. About one thousand five hundred Romanian students are learning Portuguese in five different Universities, two of them at graduating level.

In the economic sphere our bilateral relations did get tighter and stronger, certainly after Romania’s accession to the EU in 2007, but still have potential for improvement. Romania’s economic development is quite remarkable and the Portuguese companies wish to exploit the opportunities in the Romanian market as much as possible. In spite of our geographic position and the international crisis, the bilateral trade figure in 2010 was EUR 312.94 millions, therefore representing a 14.5% increase in relation to the previous year.

With regard to investments, in particular to Portuguese Foreign Direct Investment in Romania (EUR 102 millions in 2010), there is still much to be done in areas such as civil construction, environment, retail, public works and energy. Portuguese companies are offering their insight and expertise in these sectors. Among other Portuguese investors, Martifer, EDP Renovaveis, Lena Construções, Soares da Costa, Sonae Sierra, Efacec and Monte Adriano, go on consolidating their positions in the local market despite the international crisis.

Finally, Portugal rejoices in having Romania as an international partner and is looking forward to developing our bilateral relations in the interest of our two countries as much as for the benefit of European integration and international co-operation in general.”

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