H.E. Mr. Titus Corlatean, Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs:
“October 28, 1918 is the foremost historical moment for the Czech nation in the 20th century. This date is every year remembered with the highest dignity as the National Day of the Czech Republic and I am very pleased to convey, on behalf of the Romanian Government and my own, the sincerest congratulations and wishes of prosperity to the Czech people. We indeed celebrate this year, both in the Czech Republic and in Romania, 96 years since the foundation of our modern, democratic and independent states.
On this anniversary moment, one has to recall the countless things that unite our people and lay the ground for the excellent relations existing today between Romania and the Czech Republic: the difficult history we have shared during the last century, the fundamental transformation that our countries undergone over the last 25 years and the democratic values that we share today in the community of free and democratic nations.
These cornerstone achievements of our two countries are mirrored this year by an important bilateral moment represented by the celebration of 20 years since the signing of the “Friendship and Cooperation Treaty between Romania and the Czech Republic”. Signed in 1994 in Bucharest, this bilateral Treaty came to replace a similar document concluded in Prague, in August 1968, just a few days before the fateful military invasion of Czechoslovakia. This renewed Treaty is one of the many existing proves which reconfirms time and again that the friendship and cooperation between Romanians and Czechs have profound and strong roots that go well beyond the ‘90s, and even well beyond the year 1920 when Romania and Czechoslovakia established diplomatic relations from the position of two independent states.
Remarkable Czech political figures of that time, such as President Tomás Garrigue Masaryk and Edvard Bene? understood the enormous potential of our bilateral cooperation and forged alongside the Romanian leaders the Little Entente, an emblematic initiative which represented a genuine driving force in strengthening the relations between our two countries, neighbours and friends.
Dramatic moments of history that followed are still resonating with our hearts: 1938, when Romania was the only country that kept its commitments towards Czechoslovakia; 1944, when the Romanian Army joined the battles for liberating the Czechoslovak lands, and I would like to take this opportunity to convey my sincerest gratitude for the commendable efforts of the Czech Government and Moravian local authorities for keeping alive the memory of tens of thousands of Romanians who lost their lives in those battles. One recent proof is the Romanian monument in Dobroutov (Czech Vyso?ina Region) raised in June this year, during a moving ceremony where local authorities praised the heroism of the Romanian military on the Czech soil.
These values were afterwards shadowed by long decades of communist rule that both our nations had to endure. After the fall of the totalitarian regimes 25 years ago our ties were put on a new genuine basis on which we built fresh and dynamic bonds.
Romania and the Czech Republic share today similar views in making the European Union a strong and active partner in the international scene. Both our governments support the European perspective of the Western Balkans states. At the same time, we have expressed our constant support for the European path of our Eastern partners that proved capacity and political will to fulfil their commitments and obtained solid results in their reforms process. In this respect, I am convinced that the Republic of Moldova offers the most successful example of significant progress achieved to advance on its European path. I likewise firmly believe that through instruments such as the Eastern Partnership which was launched five years ago in Prague, during the Czech EU Presidency, we will be able to provide complementary assistance to our partners in Eastern Europe who are interested to come closer or become members of the European Union.
There are many things to be emphasized when talking about the Romanian-Czech solid relationship and it is a challenge for everyone to put them down into some brief sentences. In my personal opinion, the most accurate assessment of our bilateral cooperation lies with those of a strong partnership, although not yet formalized, but very much vibrant and fruitful.
Today, one can witness the dynamic political dialogue between Bucharest and Prague. In this regard, I would like to emphasize the recent official visit to Bucharest of my colleague and friend, Lubomír Zaorálek, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. This visit has represented a new opportunity to seek ways of bringing our countries ever closer and enhancing our cooperation within the European Union, the North Atlantic Organization and other important regional and international organizations. Both of us are strong supporters of expanding our economic ties and diversifying our bilateral trade especially in the fields of energy, agriculture, food industry, IT, construction, wood processing and tourism. We are also committed to boost our collaboration in areas such as innovation, research and development, where the Czech Republic aims to achieve a leading European position in the coming years. Our common objective to increase the number of students and academics exchanges in scientific projects could offer a substantial added value for these ambitious projects.
I particularly appreciate the constant and active support that the Czech Republic shows for Romania’s accession to the Schengen area and the effective cooperation regarding the European affairs segment. At the same time, taking into consideration our similar views regarding the future of the Central and South East Europe, we encourage our Czech friends and partners to participate in the EU Strategy’s for the Danube Region projects which have the potential to contribute to the development of both the Danube area and its neighbouring states.
What also makes me look with confidence to the future is that, regardless of the still challenging international economic environment, our two countries continued a resolute expansion of their economic cooperation. The year 2013 confirmed the continuation of the upward trend of our bilateral trade, with a new high of 2,48 billion Euros. There are many economic cooperation opportunities still unexplored by both sides, but I trust that the positive example offered by the presence of more than 800 Czech companies on the Romanian market will convince more Czech investors to come to discover us. I also encourage the Romanian capital to be more present in the Czech Republic and seek innovative ways of working together with the Czech companies on third markets which are opening for business these days. But maybe the most spectacular development is connected to the people-to-people contacts which are always the driving force of any bilateral relation. More and more Romanian tourists became attracted by “The Golden City” of Prague, while the Czechs have begun to rediscover the beauty of Romanian mountains and landscapes. The records are very encouraging and I am confident that our ties particularly in the tourism and business sectors will continue to strengthen in the years to come.
Last but not least, I am committed to continue our efforts to better engage our communities living amongst their friends: the Czech people in Banat and other regions of Romania and the Romanians who live in the Czech Republic, from the Vallachian shepherds who settled in Moravia some 500 years ago, in the region which took up the name of their mother land – Valassko – to the young Romanians who came to Prague, Brno and other Czech cities more recently. They are an important asset of our relationship and a strong promise for its future.
To all these people and friends of Romania I would like to convey once again, on this festive occasion, my very best wishes of good health, happiness and every success in their future endeavours.”