On the occasion of the Independence Day of the United States, the 4th of July, I have the honor to convey to our American friends and allies my warmest congratulations, as well as best wishes of success and prosperity.
This year is a special one in the relations between Romania and the United States, as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of our Strategic Partnership, launched in Bucharest this very month of July, in 1997. Today, our Partnership is stronger than ever, and its current relevance was recently proven at the highest level, through the dialogue that the leaders of our two countries had in Washington last month.
The relationship between the United States and Romania represents the cornerstone to our security and prosperity, and is streamlined by the Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership for the 21first Century between the United States of America and Romania, adopted at the highest level, on September 13, 2011, in Washington. Romania is and will remain a staunch and dependable US ally, partner and friend. Our Strategic Partnership with the US has a vital importance to our country, situated in a geostrategic position in Southeast Europe, where we have never been sheltered from the harsh “winds and waves” of the history.
The Strategic Partnership with the US is built on the strong commitment to the common Transatlantic values of democracy, individual liberties, the rule of law, as well as on a robust engagement in support of regional and global security. It has brought a distinctive contribution in redefining our country’s strategic profile and it has been instrumental in stimulating and speeding up Romania’s domestic reforms, for almost two decades, in many critical fields.
The military and security dimension remains a top priority and the most dynamic component so far of our Strategic Partnership. In terms of strengthening Romania’s position as a US and NATO trusted ally, the commissioning in 2016 of the Missile Defense Facility hosted by the Romanian Base Deveselu, remains to date one of the most important joint projects in the political-military dimension of the Romanian-American Strategic Partnership, and proof of our shared commitment to transatlantic security.
Romania welcomes the strong US commitment towards NATO and the security of Europe, as exemplified most recently through the budget proposal put forward by the American Administration for the European Reassurance Initiative. Romania understands to invest in its own security as well, and this is reflected by the commitment, widely shared at political level by all parties, to allocate 2% of GDP for defense starting this year.
The multitude of joint land, air and maritime combined exercises, training and operations are proof of both Romania’s and the United States’ commitment to regional security. We witnessed in February the presence of 500 US military in Romania, as part of the heel-to-toe rotation exercises of U.S.-based armored brigades to Europe. This July, Romania will be one of the host countries of the Saber Guardian 2017 Exercise, the largest Multinational Exercise in the Black Sea Region. It is a privilege to welcome here in Romania 25,000 service members from 22 allied and partner nations, which are expected to take part in this U.S. Army Europe-led (USAREUR) multinational deterrence exercise, organized in support of the security and stability of the our region.
Romania also has developed a well-established track-record of cooperation with the US in supporting security and stability worldwide, as a member of the Global Coalition against Daesh; we stand shoulder to shoulder with the United States in Afghanistan, where our country is the 4th allied contributing nation, with more than 600 military personnel.
Upgrading the economic dimension of our Strategic Partnership is a shared goal between Romania and the United States. At the end of 2016, the United States was recorded as the 11th economic partner of our country, with a bilateral trade which reached 1,767 billion US dollars, and with an American capital invested in Romania of over 1,3 billion U.S. dollars, representing 2,36% of the total foreign investments. Concrete steps have been taken to promote our country as an attractive destination for American investors, including by supporting initiatives advanced by the representatives of the US business community. Substantive dialogue took place with major US companies in March this year, on the occasion of the annual Romanian-American Business Council. This year, in October, Bucharest will host the “Trade Winds” economic forum, organized by the Department of Commerce of the United States, with an expected participation by more than 100 American companies. We are looking forward to U.S. companies’ contributions and involvement in new investment projects, meant to boost our bilateral trade, and to further promote Romania as a reliable business partner.
Romania and the U.S. enjoy a very good and intense pace of bilateral political dialogue. The most recent exchange between President Klaus Iohannis and President Donald Trump in Washington DC, in June this year, gives us confidence that the dynamic of our political dialogue will continue to grow, in all dimensions of interaction of our two countries.
Another strong tie is represented by the Romanian community in the U.S., whose roots started more than 100 years ago, with the first settlements at the turn of the 20th century. The Romanian community is a vibrant one, well integrated in the life and spirit of today’s America, and contributes by its presence to the good relations between our countries.
Romania and the United States are attached to further expanding the areas of their Partnership on the strategic and security coordinates, as well as on the economic, trade and investment areas, communications and information technology, energy, innovation, culture and education, people-to-people exchanges.
Romania shares the joy of the celebration of this historic 4th of July, and wishes all Americans a Happy United States Day!