On the occasion of the National Day of the Republic of Austria we would like to extend our heartfelt wishes of national unity and growth to the Austrian people. Romania and Austria share a bilateral relation that has grown stronger, based on shared values and principles, as well as mutual understanding and support. We have felt this support first-hand, in the aftermath of the tragedy that occurred in the Colectiv Club and we take this opportunity to express our gratitude, once again, for the medical treatment offered by Austria to some of the victims.
Our bilateral relation entails a solid and privileged economic component, with Austria being the second largest foreign investor in our country. This excellent level of bilateral economic cooperation provides a sound base and incentive for further developing our relation. We appreciate the interest of the Austrian investors for the Romanian market, which represents a profitable outlet, with a constant focus on becoming more accommodating for businesses.
The large Romanian community living in Austria participates actively in the development of its host-society. The number of Romanian students studying in Austria has doubled in the last year and the number of young Romanians working and living in Austria is on the rise, as well. The human and cultural dimension of our bilateral interaction is thus significant and we value the involvement of the Austrian authorities in supporting the integration of the Romanian community. The same, we value the Austrian involvement in dual education developed in our country. It is through this kind of initiatives that we build solid cultural bridges between our societies.
Today we find ourselves in the EU at a crossroad. The EU has passed along its history through many crises, which had a reformative effect. The situation now is of a more complex nature; and what is even more worrisome is the fact that citizens in a number of European Member States have increasingly distanced themselves from the European project, seeking alternative ways of expressing their dissatisfaction. Both our countries are high supporters of a common European solution to the present crisis, one that provides a durable concept for the management of migration and one that bridges the gap between our nationals and the European project.
Solidarity is our EU trademark. We can sustain it by harmonizing our interests and objectives in order to find the best ways to advance with the European project. Now, more than ever, we need to engage to consolidate the EU project. Not only for the sake of keeping with our commitments, but also for doing our best to serve our European citizens, in the short and in the long run. We have to preserve the major achievements of the European project and try to further improve it. One such accomplishment relates to the four EU fundamental freedoms and Romania remains an active supporter of their undistorted implementation.
We recall with satisfaction our extensive dialogue on these topics of the European agenda, held in Wachau, this year. The European Forum represented a valuable opportunity to deepen our dialogue with both governmental and non-governmental partners from all EU member-states and representatives of the European institutions.
We especially welcome and cherish our bilateral dialogue on EU issues, which has intensified in view of our upcoming Presidencies of the Council of the European Union – 2018 for Austria and 2019 for Romania. One topic of common interest on the EU agenda is the enlargement policy. This policy has proven, in time, its transformational power in terms of standards and common values. It is a political instrument of the Union, which generates peace, security, stability and prosperity in Europe. Our geographical position, as well as historic ties, make us understand and strongly advocate for the European future of countries such as the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia or the Western Balkans.
Both our countries are engaged regional actors with solid expertise in the area and deeply involved in promoting regional cooperation as a crucial instrument in support of the EU integration effort. To this end, we have constantly promoted the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership as appropriate tools to generate an area of stability, security and prosperity in our neighbourhood. The main objectives of the revised European Neighbourhood Policy – namely a stable neighbourhood and a more differentiated EU offer to the partners, taking into account their individual needs and European choices – correspond to our common interest.
A relevant example for the added value of regional cooperation initiatives is the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, a Romanian-Austrian initiative launched in 2011, with a great potential for the economic and social development of riparian countries which aims at boosting the cooperation in fields such as the environment, public administration, culture and tourism, transport and water quality. Furthermore, the cooperation platform put forward by the Danube Strategy between EU members and non-EU countries creates an equal participatory basis and plays an active role in connecting the latter states to the EU standards and values.
In conclusion, we share many areas of cooperation, with important policies to be deepened and put into practice and we are confident that we will leverage the positive momentum in our bilateral relation in order to participate actively and loyally in the debate on the future of the EU.
We celebrate today the full expression of the sovereign Austrian State, by marking its 61st anniversary. We extend our wishes of prosperity and unity to the Austrian people and we are confident that we will continue to work closely to enhance our bilateral, regional and European ties.