In a permanently changing world, filled with plenty of unexpected challenge with every step we take, regardless of whether we are talking about the appearance and rise of the new threats to international security or financial crises, diplomatic offensive such as the one that defined the beginning of Klaus Iohannis’ term as a President may only be beneficial. Especially for expressing and outlining solidarity, which is necessary so that Romania, supported and encouraged by its allies and trustworthy partners, could make itself heard in the choir of nations determined to fulfill the assumed commitments. Yet, at the same time, for Bucharest, these important foreign contacts were an opportunity to firmly point out the expectations Romania had from its foreign partners, under the circumstances our country followed its commitments.
The week that ended recently bore a special diplomatic significance for Romania’s foreign relations portfolio, by bringing a series of reconfirmations, essential for the way our country was seen by strategic partners: the USA, the UK, the European Union and NATO. The manner the foreign meetings’ agenda of President Klaus Iohannis for the starting weeks of his term was conceived, respectively his meetings in Bucharest with US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, but also his visit to Brussels – the first official visit abroad by the new Head of the State – to meet high officials of the EU and NATO once again prove the special attention granted by the Romanian diplomacy to the constant dialogue (both on bilateral issues, as well as regional and international ones) with the USA, European institutions and officials from the capitals of the Euro-Atlantic space.
And the fact that, for the weeks to come, given the confirmations received so far, the foreign agenda of the Head of the Romanian state includes official visits by President Iohannis to Berlin and Paris only confirms Bucharest’s interest in reaffirming the crucial role played in the Romanian foreign policy by the creation of closer bonds to these special partners and by permanently establishing new levels of trust and evolution for bilateral relations with these countries.
Furthermore, for all of Bucharest’s dialogue partners, regardless of whether it is the EU, NATO, officials in Paris, Berlin, London, Washington or any other capital in the Euro-Atlantic space, the relation with Romania bears a special meaning, also due to the issues on its Eastern border, the situation in the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, but also due to Russia’s foreign and energy policies.
“Romania’s political games for 2015 will be strongly influenced by what happens at its Eastern borders. The Euro-Asian world did not settle down, Washington’s Euro-Atlantic games for the price of oil will powerfully destabilize Russia, which will generate trouble in Kishinev as well”, political analyst Cozmin Gusa declared on Saturday evening for Realitatea TV.
Entering the European diplomatic elite with a massive capital of appreciation, immediately expressed by the European leaders in their messages of congratulations for winning the presidential elections, President Klaus Iohannis succeeded from the starting month of his term to charm and conquer all the important world leaders he met so far due to his decisions, his behaviour and his attitude. This may only be a positive fact for Romania’s image and prestige, as, certainly, our country may reap the benefits generated by the capital of trust and appreciation President Iohannis managed to achieve with European and world leaders. And Iohannis’ seriousness and appearance is expected to attract even more image and trustworthiness benefits for Romania, as his initiative to sign a political pact with all parties in order to increase the Defence budget by 2 per cent of the GDP was massively saluted and applauded, determining all foreign dialogue partners, starting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to declare that “Romania is an example in completing assumed international obligations”.
“Dear Klaus, the fact that you have visited the NATO headquarters as soon as you overtook the position of President shows Romania’s dedication. We are grateful for your contribution to our mission in Afghanistan. What you are doing there is actually a struggle against terrorism. NATO and Romania are in Afghanistan to prevent Afghanistan to become terrorist heaven. We stopped Afghanistan from becoming terrorist heaven today”, Jens Stoltenberg declared.
“What happened in Paris last week showed that NATO must continue fighting the global war against terrorism”, Stoltenberg also pointed out.
“Thank you, Mr. Secretary General… dear Jens, for your appreciation to Romania. My visit confirms Romania’s firm commitment to North-Atlantic partners”, Iohannis declared on his turn.
Last Wednesday, Victoria Nuland also proved Washington’s appreciation to President Iohannis from the first seconds she was received in the Cotroceni Palace, when, at the welcoming greeting by the Head of the State and his modest remark “I do not know if this visit is due to me, but I am very happy that you are here”, she smilingly replied: “Certainly it is due to you, I came to see you”. Besides these nice words which are more or less part of a protocol, yet brimming with honesty, as neither of the parties would have spoken them if there was mere complaisance, Romania also received, on the occasion of the visit to Bucharest of the assistant of the Secretary of State John Kerry, a major signal reaffirming Washington’s position of appreciation for the strategic bilateral partnership and of great interest for political stability. From the perspective of advanced works following deadlines for making operational this year the American ballistic missile defence system of Deveselu (Southern Romania), Romania was again confirmed as a trustworthy partner by the American high official and the high strategic role of our country for the security of both states, at the level of the region, as well as at the level of the entire Euro-Atlantic space, was confirmed.
By rare coincidence, simultaneously with the praises of Washington expressed by Mrs. Nuland’s voice, Romania also received on the same day the laudatory words of a high official of another important capital it shares a strategic partnership with, London, by the voice of Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. Presently during an electoral visit to the region, in the perspective of the forthcoming elections in the UK, Hammond brought on his turn to Bucharest an important appreciative message of London for the partnership with Romania, yet, at the same time, provided officials in Bucharest another chance to outline their wish that Romanians be treated correctly and fairly on the labour market, as any other European citizens.
In Brussels, on Thursday and Friday, President Klaus Iohannis accomplished several missions on several levels that certainly represent added value to Romania as far as our country’s image, prestige and trustworthiness are concerned. President Iohannis not only gained major points at the capital of appreciation he was already benefiting of in international media, by entertaining accredited journalists at the headquarters of the European Commission in three languages (German, French and English) about Romania’s priorities to register fast progress in the key files on the agenda (Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, joining the Schengen space and the increase of the absorption rate of European funds). Not only was he granted by European high officials proof of the major appreciation he enjoyed in diplomatic circles in Brussels, but Jean-Claude Juncker himself confessed he has praised and appreciated Klaus Iohannis since 2007. In that year, Juncker and Iohannis had collaborated excellently – Iohannis as Mayor of Sibiu, Juncker as Prime Minister of Luxemburg – so that the common appointment of the two cities as “European capital” would be a successful project, which actually happened. Also, Iohannis used his presence to Brussels to once again point out that Romania’s complete “Europeanization” and the maximum advancing of the process of complete integration in the EU would be among the priorities of his presidential term, so that Romania could become an accepted and respected partner in the core of the Union.
Nonetheless, while in Brussels, Iohannis was reassured by European high officials Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, that Romania would be granted assistance and full support by EU decision makers in order to advance and gain progress in the grand files of CVM, joining the Schengen area and the increase of the absorption rate of European funds by means of new adequate mechanisms provided to our country.
For a few weeks, ever since Klaus Iohannis became Romania’s president and officially started his term, Romania is issuing a very important foreign message. Bucharest’s determination to assume and pay respect to commitments assumed to its partners and allies both bilaterally and at the level of European and Euro-Atlantic institutions is completed by issuing an image of internal stability and normality. It makes foreign commitments seem all the more trustworthy in the eyes of foreign partners and gain added value. It happens after many years of issuing abroad the image of a troubled country where the President and Prime Minister are involved in endless political confrontations, and the Palaces Cotroceni and Victoria were in a permanent and acute war, mostly fueled by ex-President Traian Basescu who missed no opportunity to defy and attack the Prime Minister with or without a reason, in prime time on TV, sometimes in a language that was not appropriate for the position of Head of the State. This war was bearing unavoidable negative consequences upon the image and the foreign trustworthiness of the country.
Once President Iohannis was elected though, elegance returned in the institutional collaboration of the Presidency and the Government, and Romania’s foreign prestige may only benefit out of this fact.