President Klaus Iohannis welcomed on Tuesday his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella, on an official visit to Romania, in a ceremony at the Cotroceni Palace.
The two heads of state made joint press statements after their official talks, which, according to the Presidential Administration, addressed the bilateral strategic partnership, the challenges facing the EU and the NATO Summit in Warsaw.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis stated he is very pleased that the Italian President accepted the invitation to visit Romania, an invitation President Iohannis extended last year when he visited Italy.
“Today I had consistent talks with my counterpart, in the spirit of the Consolidated Strategic Partnership between Romania and Italy and of the entirely special relationship that our countries have. We are talking about a relationship marked by the presence of a very large Romanian community in Italy and of a significant Italian community, most of it a business community, in Romania, which comes in addition to the historical Italian minority in our country. I take this opportunity to thank President Mattarella for being a partner of dialogue open to the problems of the Romanian community in Italy and one of the influential voices who permanently encourage the community’s process of integration, with the maintenance of its Romanian identity,” President Iohannis said.
The Romanian President stated that he emphasised during the talks “the need to continue joint efforts to support the Romanian community in Italy and to raise the Romanians’ involvement in Italy’s social but also political life.”
“In parallel, we have to continue our efforts to maintain the Romanian community’s linguistic and cultural identity, and also to put to good use in the bilateral relationship its very important economic potential. Likewise, we agreed today that another joint objective of priority is to take the economic cooperation to a new level. Trade had already reached, at the end of 2015, a record level of over EUR 13 bln, Italy being Romania’s second-largest trade partner,” Iohannis stated. Iohannis added at the same time that he pointed out that “the hiking of Italian investments in Romania is very important, especially in sectors which have a significant impact on the overall economy.
“We also discussed current topics on the European and international agenda and I assure you that there is significant similarity between our stances on a series of central topics. Thus, we discussed about Romania and Italy’s views on the continuation of the European construction and integration. Our states are profoundly interested in the consolidation of our European project, in order to ensure the security and prosperity of our citizens. We had an extremely interesting exchange of opinions concerning the development of the Union’s relations with its neighbours, and both President Mattarella and I agree on the complementary character of the southern and eastern dimensions,” the Romanian President added.
He stated that he reiterated Romania’s support for the European future of the Republic of Moldova and for the continuation of the reform process in a European spirit.
“I was happy to note that my Italian counterpart considers it is necessary for the European Union to offer active support in the same direction,” Iohannis added.
The two heads of state also discussed the situation in Ukraine, and Klaus Iohannis stated he reiterated Romania’s position according to which “the European Union’s sanctions against Russia have to be kept in force until the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements.”
“In view of the NATO Summit in Warsaw, I presented the Romanian side’s consistent arguments in favour of a robust NATO deterrent deployed proportionally on the Alliance’s entire eastern flank, in response to Russia’s actions which led to the deterioration of the security balance in the Black Sea region,” Iohannis added.
The two heads of state also tackled the challenge of migration, and President Iohannis stated that he reiterated Romania’s stance on this issue, emphasising the importance of finding efficient answers that can only be jointly assumed answers.
“Romania is sympathetic with Italy’s efforts and we presented our country’s substantial contribution to managing this phenomenon. In this context, I expressed the importance of preserving the functionality of the Schengen Area and I reiterated Romania’s interest in joining the Schengen Area, something that will considerably contribute to the consolidation of the European Union’s external borders,” Iohannis said.
The Romanian Head of State’s conclusion was that “the current sentimental but also pragmatic ties, which form a veritable Strategic Partnership between the two countries, are stronger than ever, especially in the complex European context of today,” and that President Mattarella’s visit “is a confirmation of the fact that the relation between Romania and Italy will remain a privileged one and will continue to consolidate, in the spirit of the strong tradition of friendship and collaboration that binds us.”
At the meeting, President Iohannis was assisted by Foreign Affairs Minister Lazar Comanescu, Chief of the General Staff General Nicolae Ciuca and presidential advisors Ion Oprisor, Bogdan Aurescu, Andrei Muraru, Leonard Orban, Cosmin Marinescu and Sergiu Nistor.
Mattarella: “Romanian community is large, cherished and increasingly well integrated”
Italian President Sergio Mattarella stated that we have in common “vast historical and cultural heritage, strong, solid roots that date back to Antiquity and that explain why Italy has a strong Romanian community and, on the other hand, why in Romania there are large numbers of Italians who are taking part in the country’s economic and cultural life,” adding that in Italy the Romanian community “is large, cherished and increasingly well integrated.”
“In its turn, the Italian community in Romania is dynamic and active, and these are two expressions of the friendship that exists not only between Romanian and Italian institutions but especially at the level of the two peoples. And this has strengthened our joint membership in the European Union and NATO. The two countries’ level of cooperation is truly exemplary, including within the European Union. The vast scale of trade, which President Iohannis mentioned, proves the intensity of bilateral relations at an economic but also political and cultural level,” the Italian President stated at the joint press conference.
“A strong and close collaboration that we hope to see grow at cultural level too, between Romanian and Italian universities, between young Italian and Romanian students, between the cultural institutions of the two countries. Likewise, a political collaboration between Romania and Italy certainly entails both sides’ constant commitment to understanding problems and jointly tackling them,” the Italian Head of State added.
He stated that he shared with Iohannis the view on how important a strengthening of solidarity within the Union and of the joint commitment to solve problems is for Romania, “because this will enhance the power of the Union and of each country within the European Union.”
“Romania and Italy are convinced of the Union’s importance for the outlook of international stability and growth, and for the contribution to ensuring world peace. Likewise, the joint membership of NATO consolidates our relations every day. I’ve understood Romania’s concerns about the Union’s eastern border. In our turn, we rigorously enforced the sanctions against Russia following the crisis in Ukraine and, if this is requested, Italy will continue to enforce them with the same rigorousness,” Mattarella stated in Bucharest.
In what concerns the migration issue, he stated that this phenomenon will be a long term phenomenon that requires a joint and comprehensive answer on the part of the European Union.
“In our meeting, we talked about the fact that if they were not kept under control the flows would rise and would become impossible to manage. Italy is doing everything necessary as a country of arrival, but the European Union as a whole has to assume responsibility not just at the level of emergency situations and situations of difficulty but with a historical and comprehensive outlook on the phenomenon,” Mattarella said.
“On our part, we confirmed Italy’s earnest support for Romania’s Schengen Area accession, because this also entails a subsequent growth in the European Union’s solidity and in Romania’s impact on the European Union. All of this stems from harmony between the two countries at the level of political, cultural and social issues, harmony that stems from the common roots that we want to capitalise on, to develop, to defend in a joint fashion, including in what concerns celebrations in the upcoming years,” the Italian Head of State pointed out.
He also added that Italy and Romania “really have a great relation of friendship, a profound collaboration,” and that this friendship has to develop and collaboration has to grow on all levels.
President Iohannis at “Italian Investments in Romania – European Course in Global Economy” Business Forum: “Have confidence in the Romanian economy!”
During the official visit he is paying to Romania, at the invitation of Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Italian President Sergio Mattarella took part on Tuesday, alongside his Romanian counterpart, in the “Italian Investments in Romania – European Course in Global Economy” Business Forum hosted by the Athenee Palace Hilton Hotel.
President Iohannis told those present that the event “reflects the excellent relations that our countries already have in the economic domain and is, at the same time, a very good opportunity to strengthen even more the bilateral relationship on the economic cooperation level,” but also that Italy is one of the most important investments partners.
“In 2015, trade surpassed EUR 13.5 bln, growing by over 1 billion compared to 2014. The same consolidated positive trend is also confirmed by the number of companies with Italian capital present in Romania. The number of Romanian companies with Italian capital currently surpasses 42,000, with a total invested capital of over EUR 1.6 bln. However, apart from the high number of Italian investors in Romania, who are bringing here the dynamism of Italian entrepreneurship, I want to salute the presence of large Italian companies engaged in major economic projects on the Romanian market,” Iohannis said.
The Head of State emphasised that the encouragement of Italian investments in our country is sought and gave a direct message: “Have confidence in the Romanian economy!”
Likewise, Iohannis reminded that there are almost 1.2 million Romanians in Italy, a community that has a significant contribution to the development of the Italian economy.
“At present, over 58,000 companies are owned by Romanian citizens, and over 750,000 Romanians are registered workers in Italy. Their incomes totalled over EUR 6 bln, hence a significant contribution to Italy’s budget. Moreover, important Romanian companies are currently active on the Italian market,” the Head of State said, adding that these figures and developments “offer us the conviction that we are on the right track.”
“For Romania, 2016 will be the year of robust economic growth, of over 4 percent, one of the highest economic growth rates in the European Union. We have a sustainable public debt, around 40 percent of GDP, one of the lowest levels in a European Union still affected by the public debt burden. Romania’s macroeconomic and financial stability offer confidence in the future, a fact reflected by the 17 percent growth in foreign direct investments in 2015,” the Romanian President added.
He emphasised that Romania is on first place in the European Union when it comes to internet connection speed, and the quality of the labour force is another competitive advantage, however he stressed that the “burden of red tape” has to be removed.
“We are firmly convinced that a friendly business environment, favourable to investments, is the key to our country’s progress and development,” Iohannis added.
In his turn, President Mattarella stated in his speech that the high number of Italian companies that have invested in Romania in recent years, as well as the stable presence of an extremely large Romanian community in Italy are the result of profound and articulated relationships, not solely of relations based on investments and trade. Likewise, Mattarella emphasised that the presence of “business pioneers” that arrived in Romania was made possible by the favourable conditions that Romania always reserved for investments and for the activities of Italian companies and, of course, by entrepreneurial courage and spirit.
The Business Forum, organised by the Italian Embassy to Romania and the Italian Foreign Trade Agency (ICE), in collaboration with Confindustria Romania and with the participation of the Italian Chamber of Commerce and of SACE, sought to assess Italian investment opportunities in Romania.