John McCain, Ron Johnson and Christopher Murphy met President Basescu, PM Ponta, FM Corlatean and Chamber of Deputies Speaker Zgonea.
US Senators John McCain, Ron Johnson and Christopher Murphy visited Romania last weekend as part of a tour that included East European countries, amidst the increasingly more tensioned situation on Ukraine.
President Traian Basescu welcomed members of US Senate John McCain, Ron Johnson and Chris Murphy on Saturday at Cotroceni Palace as they discussed about the new security situation in Eastern Europe during the meeting. According to a press release of the Presidential Administration, they talked about the new security situation in Eastern Europe during the meeting, and the high US officials were grateful to Romania for the contribution it had over the past few years to the success of the NATO missions and assured the Romanian President of the support of the Senate of the United States of America.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Titus Corlatean also met the US Congress delegation on Sunday, pointing out to Senators John McCain, Ron Johnson and Christopher Murphy the political relevance of the Romania-US Strategic Partnership on the regional level, and the importance of Romania’s position on NATO’s eastern flank, within the current security context. According to a press release of the Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE), the Romanian official asked for the US senators’ support to an increased presence of the United States and of NATO in Romania, on long term, and for the consolidation of the Black Sea region profile on the foreign relations agenda of the United States, ‘including through the visible and firm support for the democratic, European, or Euro-Atlantic aspirations of the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia.’
The US senators warmly thanked Romania for the consolidation of its partnership relation with the United States, mentioning in this context the commissioning of the missile defence system, and Romania’s support for the transit of American forces to and from Afghanistan. The American congressional delegation also praised ‘Romania’s stabilizing role in the region’ and the Romanian Government’s commitment to increase the defence budget.
The three US Senators were received as well by the Chamber of Deputies Speaker Valeriu Zgonea, who underlined the importance of the acceleration of the US visa waiver for Romanians and the benefits of in-depth dialogue with the US in the energy sector, promoting inter-regional energy projects ‘to connect this area to alternative gas reserves and to help the energy independence in our region.’
About corruption, shale gas and Russia
The three US senators spoke openly about delicate matters regarding Romania in an interview granted on Sunday to gandul.info. John McCain, Ron Johnson and Christopher Murphy said that Vladimir Putin’s power lies in the energy dependence of the EU member states upon Russia, therefore they should concern with becoming independent and honor their commitment to the NATO budget. John McCain claimed that Russia is a “mafia-run gas station that pretends to be a country.” As for Ron Johnson, he claimed that if corruption in Europe were low, the necessary investments would be drawn to exploit their own natural resources.
Consequently, the US senators approached the topic of the exploitation of shale gas by hydraulic fracturing in the context of debating the necessity of energy independence of the European states from Russia, one of them telling the Romanians to watch the way Vladimir Putin acts in Ukraine and Transnistria.
Inquired what would be their message for the MPs in Bucharest, as they voted against the lifting of certain MPs immunity following the visit of US Vice-President Joe Bidden, they said the fight against corruption is a fundamental element so that investors might be attracted to Romania. Christopher Murphy said that a debate on protecting the immunity of the elected would be “laughable” in the US. “If the Parliament acted so as to restrict its activity and draw it back, that affects our relations,” said McCain.
Asked to comment this statement, Prime Minister Victor Ponta on Monday said European institutions and the US see Romania as having excellent and very strong legislative and institutional instruments to fight against corruption. ‘I know that we have excellent relations with the US and it is very good that we meet. As a matter of fact, the three US senators met the foreign minister and I met the US Secretary of Defense, Mr. Hagel. We have excellent relations with the US and beyond that, as you may know, Romania is seen by European institutions and the US as having excellent and very strong legislative and institutional instruments to fight against corruption and the entire support from the Government for the relevant institutions to enforce the law, do their job and catch the corrupted,’ Ponta said.
John McCain was inquired what is the situation of the US Ambassador who was supposed to be appointed to represent the US in Bucharest. “We are aware of the problem and we want to solve it, we believe the current chief of diplomatic mission does a great job, we are proud of the work of him and his team, but we will approach the matter and we will establish the best option. Honestly, we are embarrassed,” said the American senator.