On the 25th of March, we, the Greek people, celebrate the 197th anniversary of the 1821 Revolution against the Ottoman rule that led to the founding of the Hellenic Republic. In Romania, the celebration has a special significance for the Greek people, since the first heroic battles took place here, in Dragasani and Focsani. It is of great importance the fact that the struggle for Greek Independence started from the Principalities, being organised and supported by “Filiki Etaireia”, a patriotic association created by the prosperous and important Greek diaspora. Nowadays, the flourishing Hellenic community in Romania is contributing remarkably to the creation of close ties between our two countries.
Due to our longstanding friendship and our historic and cultural ties, our high-level political cooperation is growing even stronger. Our two countries work together in bilateral, European, Euro-Atlantic and multilateral level and also within the framework of many international and regional organizations. Since the 1990’s, Greece spared no effort to strongly support Romania in its aspirations to join both NATO and EU. Today, our two countries are strong partners and allies within the EU and NATO, maintain excellent relations and are connected with strong ties of solidarity and multifaceted cooperation in many areas of common interest. We both support the strengthening of the European project by means of enhancing the unity and cohesion in the EU. In this respect, we both believe that european integration should remain firmly focused on a set of principles of utmost importance for both the Union itself and its citizens, namely democracy, solidarity and the rule of law. Moreover, Greece remains a steady supporter of the accession of Romania to the Schengen area. Our countries, aiming at consolidating stability and development in our neighbourhood, also work closely within the framework of the South East Cooperation Process (SEECP), the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) and the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC). Greece and Romania also work jointly towards achieving the diversification of energy supply sources and routes and towards developing important regional energy infrastructure projects, including natural gas interconnectors and relevant international projects (ΤΑP, IGB/IBR) as well as the enhancement of the role of the Energy Union in Southeastern Europe, aiming at the creation of energy networks which will connect Southeastern Europe with Central and Northern Europe. A few days ago, on March the 12th, at the Meeting of the Trilateral Format of the Ministers Foreign Affairs of Greece, Bulgaria and Romania (held in Bucharest), Ministers Kotzias, Zaharieva and Melescanu stressed once more our three countries΄ firm support for a stronger, consolidated, cohesive and prosperous European Union and underlined the key importance of our neighbouring regions for the security and stability in Europe. They also acknowledged that a safe, peaceful and prosperous neighbourhood of our countries is of direct interest for the European and the Euro-Atlantic area as a whole. Last, but not least, they stressed the interest of our three member states to pursue a close dialogue on EU affairs towards the common objective to consolidate the European project.
As far as the economy field is concerned ,the continuous inflow of Greek Direct Investments, despite the crisis, represents one of the core characteristics of the economic and trade relations between the two countries. At the end of 2017, the invested capital of Greek companies in Romania was estimated around 1,82 billion euros. The number of registered companies of Greek capital or participation reached the amount of 6,988. The total value of the Greek Direct Investments in Romania exceeds the amount of 4 billion euros. According to these data, Greece ranks 7th among the foreign investors in Romania. About 20,000 job positions have been created in Romania by Greek businesses during the years. The bilateral Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in Bucharest, contributes significantly towards the strengthening of the economic ties between the two countries.
Another very important field of collaboration between Greece and Romania is tourism. According to the Association of Tourist Offices of Romania, Greece steadily remains a summer destination for more than 1,3 million Romanian tourists. The flights between Bucharest and Athens are frequent, since 3 airline companies are currently connecting the two capitals. We hope that the strong cultural links between our countries will inspire also more Greek tourists to visit Romania.
In the field of culture and education, we should underline the valuable contribution of the Bucharest Branch of the Hellenic Foundation of Culture, the outstanding Department of Greek Studies of the University of Bucharest, the Lectorate of Greek Language of the University of Iasi, the Greek School of Bucharest “Athena”, as well as the educational and cultural activity of the Hellenic Union of Romania and the Greek Cultural Association “Nostos”. Furthermore, a centuries old tradition of Publishing Houses is still active, promoting publications concerning Greek history, culture and politics to Romanian readers. Moreover, it is worth mentioning that at least 1,000 Greek students study at Romanian Universities.
Last but not least, the Greek presence in Romania is also enhanced by an active Diaspora. The Hellenic Union of Romania represents the historical community, which, inspired by an outstanding past, looks forward to the future with dynamism and creativity.
In conclusion, allow me to stress my optimism that our long standing friendship and our fruitful multilevel cooperation will create mutually advantageous results and more opportunities for a prosperous future that our two countries deserve.