The situation generated by the refugees that arrive in Europe from Africa and the Middle East was the main topic of discussion at the official opening of the Annual Meeting of Romanian Diplomacy on Wednesday in Bucharest. The event, which was attended by dozens of members of the diplomatic service, featured speeches given by Prime Minister Victor Ponta, Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu, Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu, Lower Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea and Bucharest Mayor Sorin Oprescu.
The Annual Meeting of Romanian Diplomacy takes place on September 1-4 and its main theme is “Romania and the security challenges on the boundaries of European and Euro-Atlantic space. Risks, opportunities and diplomatic action.”
Victor Ponta: “We will have talks within CSAT. I also talked with the President. We are prepared”
Romania is prepared and has taken all the necessary security measures on its borders in what concerns the refugee problem, Premier Victor Ponta stated at the meeting.
“We will have talks within Supreme Defence Council (CSAT). I also talked with the President. The Interior Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, is the one drafting all documents and at the end we will let you know. We are not sitting on our hands, we are prepared, however the important thing is for us to take the decisions and to communicate in a coordinated fashion. If we have a CSAT [meeting] and the Deputy Prime Minister, the Interior Minister, presents the documents and we approve them then we will let you know,” the Premier stated on Wednesday at the Annual Meeting of Romanian Diplomacy.
Asked what security measures have been taken at the borders in this context, the Premier answered that “all measures necessary” have been taken.
On the other hand, the Premier launched a harsh attack against those who are making absurd statements concerning the receiving of refugees or the construction of the mosque, referring to Traian Basescu.
“Romania is a model of peaceful cohabitation between religions. If there is some nutcase that wants to throw the country into turmoil we have laws and institutions. I repeat, we are a model of cohabitation. (…) We have legal provisions and institutions that can sanction or cool off the hotheads. The problem is that some politicians, out of populism or because you no longer pay attention to them, are making all kinds of aberrant statements according to which we should not receive Muslims because they are all terrorists, which is an aberration, and that we should close the borders and shouldn’t receive anyone. Really? Yet when Romanians went through Europe we liked it. How could we close the borders? We have to calm these populist statements,” Ponta stated. “I don’t want us to stir panic somewhere, it’s uncalled for, we are prepared,” the Prime Minister added.
“We have neighbours with whom we are just neighbours and with whom we have to be friends”
In his speech, Premier Victor Ponta asked Romanian diplomats to strengthen relations with neighbouring countries in order for Romania to become “a regional partner and friend that shows interest,” and not just a neighbour.
“The general policy lines no longer have to be changed. I have several priorities for which I am asking you to be more active. All of Romania’s representatives, I am asking you to continue to say that Romania’s absolute priority is the Republic of Moldova. I have just returned from Chisinau. The Republic of Moldova needs our support, including diplomatic support. I am asking you to fight for the Republic of Moldova’s interests just as you fight for Romania’s interests,” Victor Ponta asked Romanian ambassadors.
“I want to ask you to support me in what concerns regional collaboration,” Victor Ponta stated at the Annual Meeting of Romanian Diplomacy, pointing out that there are some neighbouring countries with which Romania does not have regional partnerships.
“We have neighbours with whom we are just neighbours and with whom we have to be friends, and I mean all regional countries that are so important for us. I would like us to be a regional partner and friend that shows seriousness, that shows interest. I want you to understand that our regional role is important and that all of our neighbours are economic, political partners with whom we have to coordinate ourselves in an extremely complicated region that Mr. Aurescu and all the guests will talk about in the following days,” Victor Ponta pointed out.
“Thirdly, I want you to support me on what economic diplomacy stands for. The Government’s role is to find economic development opportunities. I want to ask you to do what the ambassadors accredited to Bucharest are doing, who look me up every time, especially on economic collaboration issues. I complained that our ambassadors are still too shy when it comes to promoting Romania’s economic interests. And I am talking about countries outside the European Union too. Turkey is the main partner outside the EU. I believe your role to support Romanian companies and foreign investment in Romania is very important,” Victor Ponta added.
Bogdan Aurescu: “We have the responsibility of projecting stability, democracy and prosperity”
The Foreign Minister explained in his speech that Romania is at the eastern border of EU and NATO, a region with multiple challenges, and pointed out that our country has the duty to use its vocation as a bridge between the community of values it is a part of and the world of the South Caucasus and the Middle East.
“It is for the first time in our history as a “borderland” that we are within the community of values we always belonged to culturally and axiologically, we are on the good side, the safe side of the limes. And Romania has the immense advantage of knowing and understanding this space – from the region of Eastern Europe and South Caucasus to the Central Asia and the Middle East region. We have an exceptional vocation of being a bridge toward this world, which is familiar to us, that we want to understand and that looks on us with sympathy and friendship. Consequently, we have the duty and responsibility, for us, as a country, and for the community of values we are part of, to use this vocation of limes-bridge to project stability, democracy, prosperity,” Aurescu pointed out.
Calin Popescu Tariceanu: “It is the worst crisis. We lack the great powers’ resources”
Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated that this Syrian refugees’ crisis is the worst since the Second World War. “It is the worst crisis since the end of the war. We lack the great European powers’ economic resources, but also the temptation of narrow selfishness and intolerance that some of our colleagues seem to exhibit,” Tariceanu stated at the Annual Meeting of Romanian Diplomacy.
In his speech he talked about “The Russian Federation’s increasingly aggressive posture toward the allies in NATO’s eastern flank, including Romania.”
“The prolongation and the worsening of the situation in Ukraine, manifested through the consolidation of the annexation of Crimea and the prolongation of the conflict on Ukraine’s eastern border is growing complicated toward what we can call the borderization of the administrative limits of Georgia’s secessionist provinces, clear proof of the creation of permanent fracture areas that can become or revert to being hot at any moment. The Russian Federation’s increasingly aggressive posture toward the allies located in NATO’s eastern flank, Romania included, always incriminated for the shield in Deveselu, a fact for the fundamental security and political axis of the Strategic Partnership with the US, represents the most threatening factor of instability and risk for regional and global security,” Tariceanu claimed.
The Senate Speaker opined that Romania should contribute more substantially to the devising of NATO’s strategic vision and to the rethinking of the Alliance’s mission in the new context.
“I believe we have to share with our colleagues in countries that are less exposed to such threats our conclusions and proposals in order to keep under control both Russia’s energy blackmail as well as its increasingly active propaganda within the EU. Romania has the experience of but is not necessarily vaccinated against these ideas, and it has to be among the first to carefully discern and to efficiently counteract these new expressions of older imperial aspirations,” the Senate Speaker said.
Calin Popescu-Tariceanu emphasized that Europe’s security system has to be rethought, and that if Russia does not fall back to normal lines of behaviour its involvement in continental and regional cooperation bodies should be lowered.
Likewise, the Speaker of the Senate pointed out that the special relation between Romania and the Republic of Moldova has to be as substantial as possible, apart from the difficulties experienced by a threatened region.
Likewise, at the Annual Meeting of Romanian Diplomacy Tariceanu pleaded for the development of cultural and economic diplomacy.
Valeriu Zgonea: “No Romanian is indifferent to the enormous spectre of global conflicts”
The Lower Chamber Speaker referred to the refugee crisis in his turn too. The official stated that despite the fact that Romania is not an important target today, terrorism is a threatening spectre for Romanians. In this context, he emphasized the need for Romania to strengthen its defence and diplomacy and mentioned the agreement reached by parliamentary parties on the hiking of the defence budget.
“The security and peace of the present and of the future represents one of the biggest themes for Romanians, but also one of their biggest fears. No Romanian is indifferent to the enormous spectre of conflicts taking place in the world and, unfortunately, increasingly close to our borders,” Zgonea opined, referring to Romanians that live within the country’s borders as well as to those that live abroad, “who need defence too.”
Likewise, Zgonea emphasized that Romanians, simple citizens or companies alike, want Romania to have good relations with all states in order to be able to solve its problems, and that they want friendly representation within the representation offices abroad, but also want the latter to be closer to them.
“We have a Romania abroad. Our diplomats are the ones called on to maintain this link with this Romania, to assure them all categories of legal services, but also human support, understanding, where possible. All of us, the Romanian diplomatic service in particular, have the responsibility to defend the dignity of Romanians living abroad and Romania’s image. No Romanian tourist has to feel awkward and hunted because he has Romanian passport and that he may be considered part of the statistic share of those travelling with criminal intent,” Zgonea said.
The Lower Chamber Speaker also stated that attaining Romania’s strategic potential and raising her relevance on the international scene is another prerogative of the Romanian diplomatic service, just like the capacity to promote the Romanian economy.
Sorin Oprescu: “Romania’s capital, appreciated for openness to hosting dialogue among cultures”
In his speech, Bucharest Mayor Sorin Oprescu emphasized the cultural importance of Bucharest and the fact that the city he leads has been increasingly appreciated and recognized in recent years. In this context, the Mayor stated that he wants the 2021 edition of the Annual Meeting of Romanian Diplomacy to be celebrated in Bucharest European Capital of Culture 2021, a title for which the city has filed its bid.
“The title brings to the forefront the role of culture and cultural tourism in a city’s life and the sustainable manner in which it can contribute to the sustainable responsibility of the citizens and of the city,” the mayor said.
Oprescu pointed out that the Annual Meeting of Romanian Diplomacy is taking place simultaneously with the “George Enescu” International Festival, an event he labelled a veritable country brand.
“Although we still have a lot of things to do, we are able to say that these days we can offer the tourist that comes to Bucharest a cultural-artistic package of high class. The possible selection of Bucharest will outline the European status of our capital and, as I proposed for my term, the maximum use of its premises and trump cards, its potential as a European metropolis located at the crossroads of important transport corridors, its position right next to the pan-European corridor,” the Bucharest Mayor said.
Likewise, Oprescu gave assurances about openness toward supporting the diplomatic service in promoting Romania abroad.
“Romania’s capital is increasingly appreciated and recognized in recent years, not only for the diversity and richness of its tourism and cultural offer, but also for its openness toward literally hosting the dialogue between cultures, generations, institutions and the wide audience,” Sorin Oprescu explained.