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June 25, 2022

2014, the year of promoting China – CEE relations

Bucharest Guidelines aimed at strengthening business cooperation between China and Central and Eastern Europe were adopted on Tuesday
by 16 Heads of Government attending the Summit.

The Heads of Government of Central and Eastern Europe-China Summit ended yesterday with the adoption of Bucharest Guidelines document aimed at strengthening the cooperation between the CEE countries and China on areas of common interest and at promoting investments and businesses in infrastructure, SMEs, agriculture, railway and telecommunications.
According to PM Victor Ponta the talks were pragmatic and were held on three areas relating the consolidation of the relations between the Central and Eastern European countries and China, the regional relations and the bilateral relations between China and each of these countries. “We are very glad to have been able to organize this extremely important meeting in Bucharest, a political event of utmost importance for Romania and the entire region, a new phase in the consolidation of the cooperation between the Central and Eastern European countries and China. The talks were extremely open, pragmatic, focused on concrete areas of cooperation. /…/ There were three such areas of talks. Firstly, the consolidation of the relations between the Central and Eastern European countries, the regional relations and the bilateral relations between China and each of these countries, capitalizing on the potential for regional development that the countries in the region have, our economies in the relation with China, the world’s second-largest economy and a constantly developing country, the same as the countries in our region”, Ponta said at the end of a summit meeting. The Romanian prime minister, speaking at a joint news conference with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang added that the region’s prime ministers, during the meeting, unveiled the image of Central and Eastern Europe as being a dynamic region, with a growing economy, an investment-oriented economy, with significant potential for development in a large number of areas with important regional projects on energy, infrastructure, the investments in education, innovation and technology. “The consolidation of the contributions that the positive economic developments in our countries have to the development of the relations between the European Union and China was another important objective of such discussions (…) Today’s high-level meeting was meant as a complementary effort to the general framework of the strategic relations between the European Union and China”, the Romanian head of government added.
In his turn, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pointed out in his join press statement with Premier Ponta that the participants to the summit have to make efforts in order to translate into facts the program convened at the summit in Romania, as well as to create a good backdrop for cooperation between these states’ companies. “Now it is important to exert common efforts in order to translate our program into facts, to implement the consensus, in order for this summit to have more palpable results. Along with Prime Minister Ponta we jointly decided for the working group on the Chinese-Romanian cooperation infrastructure to start and now we have had results,” Li Keqiang stated. He emphasized that one of the goals of the summit in Bucharest is easing contacts between Chinese companies and Central and Eastern European companies, in order for them to enjoy a mutually advantageous “complementary cooperation.” “Our goal is to guide our companies to get to know each other (…), the authorities to create a good backdrop for intercompany cooperation. We can state that our collaboration is a “1+16” collaboration but the result is much greater than 17. This cooperation is also favorable for the cooperation between China and the EU. The China – CEE relations are based on mutual respect and equality. We will continue this principle in the process of cooperating with you, in order for our partnership to be even tighter,” the Chinese official stated.
The Bucharest Guidelines document stipulates designating 2014 as the year of promoting investments and businesses as part of the relationship between Central and Eastern Europe and China, and organizing various actions such as continuing to organize yearly economic forums as well as summits between heads of government. Other cooperation points will consist of encouraging SMEs on the basis of a China – CEE cooperation platform, developing agriculture, setting up an association for the promotion of cooperation in the agricultural domain and the creation of a forum for agricultural cooperation, encouraging regional financial institutions in the sense of cooperating for “the full capitalization” of a special USD 10 bln special financing line that China has put at the disposal of regional countries, consolidating cooperation when it comes to infrastructure investments and connectivity, and railway transportation networks respectively. The participants also agreed on expanding cooperation in the science, technology, innovation, environment protection and energy domains, as well as on promoting cultural exchanges. According to Premier Ponta, also discussed were concrete measures concerning the easing of free movement and the encouraging of tourism between China and the regional countries.
Participants present their countries’ strong points
The Central and Eastern European officials present in Bucharest presented the strong points of their countries, inviting the Chinese to invest in the region. Albanian Development Minister Arben Ahmetaj stated at the summit that regional countries have to fight in order to attract foreign investments and have to understand that this region is not “the world’s bellybutton.” We have “to jointly present ourselves to the Chinese, to the European Union, to the United States, to all of our strategic partners – be they economic or political – as a single market,” Ahmetaj pointed out. In his turn, Polish Economy Minister Ilona Antoniszyn-Klik stated that Europe’s central-eastern region has so far “played a secondary role in the EU’s relations with China.” The Polish official opined that regional countries have to use any “new opportunities of economic, scientific, cultural and political cooperation.” Anna Yaneva, the Bulgarian Deputy Economy Minister, told the Chinese that Bulgaria is “attractive” not only economically but also from the point of view of tourism.
The second summit meeting of prime ministers from Central and Eastern Europe and China took place at Parliament Palace. Prime Minister Victor Ponta and visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang welcomed at the beginning of the meeting the heads of government from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary, as well as Latvia’s foreign minister. The summit meeting in Bucharest of the prime ministers is the second that gathers the heads of government from Central and Eastern Europe as well as China, after a previous one in Warsaw in 2012. According to the Romanian Government, Bucharest organising the summit provides ‘an excellent opportunity for the development of political and economic ties between Romania and China, of the regional ones as well as of the ties between our region and the Chinese partner.’ “The presence of 10 prime ministers from European Union member states as well as of Latvia’s foreign minister complementariness is secured and the consolidation of ampler relations is supported,” the Government said
Also yesterday, PM Ponta had bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Poland, the Czech Republic, Albania and Slovenia.
EU’s concern
Days before the Bucharest meetings, the EU’s Trade Commissioner, Karel De Gucht, sent a letter to representatives of those EU member states participating in the summit, expressing irritation about the timing of the event, coming just days after a major EU-China meeting in Beijing. According to Al Jazeera, the EU delegation had apparently struggled at times during the Beijing negotiations, with Chinese ministers saying some of the issues would be addressed at the Romanian summit. De Gucht’s letter was a reminder to EU member states to respect the general EU line and collective policies.
Despite any concerns from the rest of the EU, regional leaders appear optimistic about the growing presence of China in their countries.

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