U.S. Ambassador in Bucharest Hans Klemm addressing the students of the Law Faculty, at the University of Bucharest, on President John F. Kennedy and the civic involvement of the youth, voiced his opinion that President Klaus Iohannis had a very difficult task following the street demonstrations this November, and made a courageous decision by appointing a Government of technocrats.
“The political leadership and President Iohannis in particular had a very difficult task. I think what President Iohannis realized was that Romania’s people want a new direction for this country, and under these circumstances, with parliamentary elections due next year, he decided to create a Government that should not include members of the parliamentary parties, but a group of democratic experts who should attempt to govern the country in the coming year. It was a courageous decision. If it proves successful (…) I think it should have Parliament’s support in taking some important decisions that will improve Romania’s public administration, to continue the fight against corruption, back Romania’s alliance with NATO, its EU membership and strategic partnership with the U.S. If it is successful, it could give this country a new direction”, said the U.S. Ambassador.
He argued that the actions that followed the Colectiv club tragedy were “inspiring,” as tens of thousands of Romanians peacefully took to the streets of Bucharest and other cities, in the spirit of civic participation, demanding that Romania be headed for a better, more prosperous and less corrupt future.
Asked about the priorities of his term, the Ambassador said that the most important goal is the promotion of security, stressing that Romania and the U.S. are powerful allies within NATO.
As we have seen in recent months and weeks, the world stays a very troubled place. Instability is present not only in areas like the Middle East or Afghanistan, but it also exists here in Europe, in the context of the Russian aggression on Ukraine, so that, as I have said it, the U.S. found a powerful ally in Romania and we will continue to seek ways to improve our joint defense both here in Europe, and as far as our partnership in countries such as Afghanistan is concerned, said the diplomat.
The Ambassador mentioned that the second priority is the promotion of democracy, stressing that Romania’s attachment to the values of democracy cannot be questioned.
Just like the U.S., Romania seeks to strengthen democratic institutions. The U.S., acting together with the international partners of Romania and the EU, attempts to assist Romania in strengthening democracy. This includes very strong support for the combat of corruption, respect for minorities, the freedom of the press and religious freedom, said Klemm.
He also spoke about promoting prosperity, mentioning that this implies an increase in the flow of goods and investments. The U.S. Ambassador said that the Romanian President and Prime Minister have asked him to engage in improving the climate for foreign investors, with a view to attracting not just American, but European, Japanese or Chinese investments as well. Hans Klemm also stated that he wants to encourage cultural exchanges, cultural, educational and scientific cooperation.
Do not ask what Romania can do for you, ask yourselves what you can do for Romania
Hans Klemm talked to students about US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and youth civic engagement. He used the opportunity to review briefly President Kennedy’s life, consider his legacy, and speculate on his continuing influence on both America and other parts of the world, including Romania.
“Do not ask what Romania can do for you, ask yourselves what you can do for Romania”, Klemm told students, paraphrasing the words of the former US president.
Kennedy’s famous quote during his 1961 Inaugural Address — “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” — challenged Americans to have pride in service to their country and to their community. He was asking everyone to do their part to make America great, Hans Klemm told students.
We have a duty to promote a better world for the next generation
He emphasized that through examples such as the creation of the Peace Corps and the promotion of civil rights, Kennedy was asking Americans to share its blessings with all, the disadvantaged at home, and the underdeveloped abroad.
“He wanted a strong America leading the formation of a better world. And, because of these aspirations, his memory in the minds of Americans is remarkably strong. In public opinion polls, Kennedy is routinely at the very top of the list of America’s best presidents.
To me his legacy is a simple one. We have a duty to serve humanity, and our countries, and our communities, and promote a better world for the next generation. And isn’t this – a duty to serve – what you, the citizens of Romania, recently demonstrated to the politicians and people of Romania?,” the U.S. Ambassador pointed out.
“You are the new generation of this country. The Romans wanted this land, as did the Ottomans, the Greeks, the Russians, and the communists. Now it is yours, and you will become the leaders of this beautiful place, this place we know as Romania. So I ask you, what will you do with your leadership? Are you going to make Romania into the place you want, free of corruption, guided by the rule of law, prosperous, with a capable, efficient public administration, and more like the rest of Europe? Will you answer the call of service when your country needs you?
Will you one day seek political office, as Kennedy encouraged, as a way to serve your country and to solve the great problems that face Romania today? Will you do this not because it is easy, as Kennedy said, but because it is hard?,” Hans Klemm went on.
President Kennedy inspired generations of Americans to be civically engaged and active participants in our democracy
He underlined that President Kennedy inspired generations of Americans to be civically engaged and active participants in our democracy. “His own family continues to heed his call. Brothers, nieces and nephews have served in Congress or as elected officials in their respective states. His daughter, Caroline Kennedy, upholds her father’s legacy of public service as a colleague of mine as the American Ambassador to Japan.
Ambassador Kennedy once said, “All my life, people have told me that my father changed their lives; that they got involved in public service or politics because he asked them to. And the generation he inspired has passed that spirit on to its children. I meet young people who were born long after John F. Kennedy was president, yet who ask me how to live out his ideals. Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things.”
The diplomat told students they represent the country’s new generation and that they will become leaders of this beautiful land – Romania.
But, Klemm addressed the audience, what will you, the future leaders of Romania do? You will transform Romania in the place you wish for, without corruption, based on the rule of law, a prosperous place, with an efficient and capable public administration, a place resembling more the rest of Europe? You will answer this call of duty, when your country will need you? Will you run one day for a position, like Kennedy would encourage us, to serve your country and solve the great problems Romania is facing today? Will you do this not because it is easy, but particularly because it is difficult, like Kennedy said?, the Ambassador asked those present.
Klemm also said that JF Kennedy embodied youth and vitality and, through his actions and his speech inspired the hearts and minds of an entire generation of young people, causing them to engage in their communities and in the world and to fight for equality. By establishing a mandate for public service and inspiring a nation to answer the challenges of a new era, Kennedy supported the launch of an important series of social, cultural and political evolutions.
The US Ambassador offered those present copies of the book “Profiles of Courage” by President Kennedy.