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Bucharest
August 2, 2021
EDITORIAL

Challenges to Romanian diplomacy

The Annual Meeting of Romanian Diplomacy (RADR) that took place, like any other year, on the first days of September, focussed on highlighting the performance, merits and challenges Romanian diplomacy is facing, but also on sketching out the new lines of action in Romanian foreign policy in the new paradigm of the international situation, in an growingly volatile regional and international security context.
A foreign policy that, apart from the strategic baseline directions, given these latest developments, is clearly entering a new phase. A phase with many unknowns, but also opportunities.
A reason for which Romanian diplomacy, facing increasingly complex challenges and major responsibilities, more than ever before needs to be pro-active, anticipative, creative, dynamic and prove predictability and flexibility.
In line with this, a dynamic and modern diplomatic action is indispensable, as President Klaus Iohannis emphasised at the Cotroceni Palace last Thursday, on the occasion of welcoming the Diplomatic Body of Romania. He called upon the heads of diplomatic missions of Romania to seriously and consistently pursue the objectives of promotion of the interests of the Romanian state at an international level in such a way that the profile of a strong Romania in Europe and the world should be consolidated.
‘I am convinced that what we are currently building in the foreign policy will reflect, on a medium to long term, in a positive manner upon the Romanian society, as long as we know how to seriously and consistently pursue our objectives, working as a team. This stage of foreign policy will also entail an honest evaluation of the things that do work, areas where we are effective or, on the contrary, where there are syncopes’, stressed the President.
On the Annual Meeting of Romanian Diplomacy, top-rank officials of the country insisted on sending or reiterating several important messages. One that deserves commenting is that, in a region with increasingly complex issues, Romania is currently a very stable country, with a consistent and responsible foreign policy which, as Prime-Minister Victor Ponta stressed, no longer needs to be put to tests of reliability in what regards its attachment to European and NATO security policies. That is because Romania has proved, enough and to spare, that, within the international bodies it is a member of, is a loyal, credible and consistent partner.
A very important aspect regarding the consistency and unitary message of Romanian foreign policy that both President Klaus Iohannis and Premier Victor Ponta stressed for the Romanian diplomats is that, on the major foreign policy subjects, apart from the inherent clashes of political parties, in Romania there is and there will always be dialogue and consensus between the President, the Government and the Parliament, on major themes concerning the interest of the country.
Paraphrasing the famous quotation ‘Give me good domestic politics and I will give you good foreign policy’, the head of state insisted on expressing, in front of the heads of diplomatic missions, his satisfaction with the fact that, in his eight months of term already served, the local political climate had begun to change compared to previous years and that the political actors – Power and Opposition – had understood that, beyond inherent, natural democratic differences, there was always the way of debate and dialogue. ‘During these first months of 2015, consultations have become something normal. My goal is to keep and develop, in domestic politics, the set of arguments that can create trust in Romania and abroad. I include here not just the above, but also the strengthening of democratic mechanisms, continuing with the fight against corruption, strengthening the rule of law and, of course, the independence of the judiciary. These are messages I am asking you to send, as clearly and decisively as possible, in your foreign dialogues’, urged President Iohannis.
As it happened amidst the refugee crisis that has become the top reason of concern to the European Union these last few weeks, the meeting of Romanian diplomats this year, the theme of which was ‘Romania and security challenges at the borders of European and Euro-Atlantic area’. Risks, opportunities and diplomatic action’, as naturally, was a good opportunity for speakers to also tackle this aspect and express their concern.
It was done in their respective interventions by both the senior officials of the Romanian state and the foreign guests at the event: Poland’s Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna, Slovakia’s Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcák, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, and the Foreign Affairs Minister of Norway, Borge Brende.
The meaning of this year’s RADR theme was explained by Foreign Affairs Minister Bogdan Aurescu in his opening address. ‘The theme reflects the complex context of security developing in 2014 and 2015, but also the fact that Romania, a country in the broader strategic Black Sea region, at the Eastern NATO and EU border, must have an adequate defence of its unquestionable strategic interests – security, economic and inter-human, having the advantage that ‘for the first time in our history, we are inside the community of values we always knew we belonged to, culturally and axiologically’, said the chief Romanian diplomat.
Minister Bogdan Aurescu pointed out that, in this complex security context, Romanian diplomacy had had and still had not solely a reactive role, but also a pro-active and dynamic role, so that it could best protect the best interest of Romania.
‘These developments have triggered in-depth strategic assessments and rigorous re-considerations, an adjustment of the strategic philosophy of Romanian diplomacy and proposals of solutions, concepts and new tools we are currently working for designing and developing in order for us to become more effective in fulfilling our national objective of providing the security of the Romanian state in a broad sense. All these solutions are convergent on the same aim – making Romania a safer country in a complex time and in an intricate international environment, especially in our neighbourhood. (…) Concretely speaking, all our diplomatic efforts this year have so far woven a ‘network’ of convergent initiative and proposals conceived and upheld by diplomatic action, meant for creating around us a security belt in a broad sense, to counteract and replace the current instability belt’, Minister Aurescu said, also stressing some of Romania’s initiatives in the EU (review of the European Neighbourhood Policy – Security Trusts and revitalisation of the Black Sea Synergy; review of the EU Security Strategy; develop the concept of the Energy Union), in NATO (NATO strategic reflection on the Black Sea neighbourhood and need to develop an integrated, ‘two-arm’ NATO strategy for the Southern and Eastern neighbourhood; support for the open door policy), at an international level (create an International Court against Terrorism), as well as the consolidation of existing bilateral and trilateral consultation arrangements.
In his intervention, the Minister of Foreign Affairs reviewed the main landmarks of Romanian diplomacy in the next period, with an emphasis falling on: the European Agenda and preparations ahead of taking over the rotating presidency of the European Council in 2019; developments in the Eastern and Southern Neighbourhood; strengthening the regional role and good neighbourhood relations with countries in the area; the Romanian contribution as a trusty NATO ally; EU-NATO cooperation and counteracting the hybrid war; regional cooperation; the Strategic Partnership with the USA; economic diplomacy; energy matters; an active presence of Romania in the various international organisations (UN, OSCE etc); Romanian communities abroad; improving the quality of consular services, including crisis response.
‘In the upcoming period, from the point of view of foreign policy, we need to project stability, democracy and prosperity in our neighbourhood. (…) We have very many things to do, in a complicated international context, and this effort will call for the complete, honest, professional and full commitment of each of you. I therefore ask and expect you to do your job, so that we can finalise these crucial projects to the national goals and interest of Romania’, Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu concluded in his message to Romanian ambassadors.
The essential landmarks and priorities of Romanian diplomacy were stressed in their interventions also by President Iohannis and Prime-Minister Ponta, who pointed out that the general lines followed in our foreign policy should not be altered and do not need reconfirming since they are quite clear and assumed under existing commitments.
Apart from the need for our country to strengthen its role in the European Union and NATO and consolidate its bilateral relations with its traditional European and regional partners, but also along the fundamental security axis of the Strategic Partnership with the United States of America, among the foreign policy priorities expressly nuanced by the top-ranking officials of the Romanian state are the relations with Romanians abroad, a crucial component of foreign action as President Iohannis emphasised. He promised to continue to consistently back the national goal that the Romanian Diaspora should consolidate itself in terms of identity, status, economic prosperity and social dynamic, and to support Romanian communities to affirm themselves more powerfully as a factor of development in the relations between Romania and the countries where they are now based.
‘Safeguarding and promoting the rights of Romanians beyond our borders, regarding the status, material and spiritual roots and participative role, continue to be a fundamental duty Romania has. Such a right is the right to vote’, stressed the President, who called upon political actors to keep their promise and introduce the distance voting arrangements.
The Annual Meeting of Romanian Diplomacy was a good opportunity for the high officials of the Romanian state to reiterate, in front of the ambassadors, their commitment that Romania will continue to be the strongest ally in the European efforts being made by the Republic of Moldova. It is about support as such within the EU, but also in the dialogue with the other member states, as well as direct and concrete support at a bilateral level for the efforts of R. Moldova at a domestic level for drawing closer to the European Union, all the way to integration.
Last but not least, several speakers from the RADR rostrum stressed the importance of economic diplomacy and the need for substantial growth, especially from a qualitative point of view, of that particular dimension. ‘In spite of some progress having been made and especially in spite of the actual potential, this is still a not sufficiently exploited and capitalised on area. If we want different results, we will need to act outside the box, find new practices. Similarly, we also need to tackle cultural diplomacy’, President Iohannis told the Romanian ambassadors, whom he invited to focus on these two components to a greater extent.
In other words, RADR 2015, through the diverse and complex set of topics addressed and messages sent, reconfirmed the role and dynamism of Romanian foreign policy in the current regional, European and international context.
As emphasised on the last day of the meeting, the participation of prominent foreign guests, the Foreign Ministers of Poland, Slovakia, Norway and Jordan, the applied debates and conclusions derived are important landmarks in the process of reflection going on at Romania’ s Ministry of Foreign Affaires (MAE) on the regional and global security challenges and opportunities of diplomatic action.
The main conclusion stemming from the three days of debates, analyses and talks occasioned by the Annual Meeting of Diplomacy is that both Romanian authorities with competence in the area of foreign policy and Romanian diplomats who represent the country and promote its interests abroad have many new challenges to cope to, challenges they will definitely address as they have so far, with responsibility, honour, dignity and in keeping with the national interest.

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