Romania needs to focus on more intense collaboration with countries on the African continent, Prime Minister Viorica Dancila said on Monday in a message on Africa Day.
Deputy Prime Minister for Implementation of Romania’s Strategic Partnerships Ana Birchall read the message at a reception extended to the members of the diplomatic corps accredited in Bucharest.
“After 1989, during Romania’s transition to democracy Romania’s main foreign policy priorities were represented by the EU and NATO accession. Now, after fulfilling these important milestones, it is time to look to the present and to the future and to come back to Africa, and for Africa to come back to Romania,” the prime minister said in her message in English.
She mentioned the recent visits to the region by Romania’s Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu and the presence of African senior officials in Bucharest.
“Our Foreign Minister Melescanu highlighted the need to intensify our relations with Africa, and only in 2018 can we mention some important and concerned steps: the foreign minister of Ghana and the foreign minister of Libya visited Bucharest while Mr Melescanu (…) made an official tour in Tunisia, Algeria, Libya and Morocco. Maybe it is worth reminding that in 2017 the foreign minister of the Republic of Egypt was welcomed in Romania as well as the state minister for foreign affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” said Dancila via Birchall.
She also mentioned Romania’s collaboration with the African continent countries in specific areas.
“In time, the spirit of good co-operation was forgotten, and we continued to be interested in this sectoral co-operation – the educational pillar – as 50,000 African students are studying different subjects in Romania,” the prime minister noted.
“When talking about cooperation, we should not evaluate only the education sector, so long as there are many domains of mutual interest. There should be an equal-basis partnership as a way to acknowledge that Africa went throughout a series of transformations and has several areas with high-level performance,” she said.
At the same time, Dancila highlighted the presence of 51 Romanian soldiers with UN missions on African soil.
“Please consider Romania an advocate of Africa inside the European Union, given also the fact that we will hold the presidency for the European Council in the first semester of 2019, which should also contribute to increase our bilateral relations as well.”
In her turn, Tunisian ambassador to Bucharest Boutheina Labidi, dean of the African Diplomatic Corps, spoke about the future of the region.
“Investing in youth, empowering our young people, our women, and our citizens is the only way to go forward, (…) to prepare for the future. Difficulties, challenges will lead us along the way, but consolidating our partnership and our co-operation with European countries (…) is our goal,” she said.
The diplomat noted the renewed interest of the Romanian authorities in co-operation. “We are pleased to note the renewed interest and the efforts that the Romanian Government is making to energise the Romanian-African relations,” she said.
Rector of the University of Bucharest Mircea Dumitru spoke at the event about the openness of the organisation he represents. “What we teach our young students is, first of all, how we have to cherish and to cultivate the values of humanism, the fact that we are very diverse, but, at the same time, we are sharing the same kind of humanity,” he said.