On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to wish a very happy Canada Day to all Canadians and to all friends of Canada here in Romania.
Our national day, officially July 1st, is always an interesting time to reflect, to take stock of our achievements in any given year, falling as it does at almost the exact mid-point of the calendar year. I think it is fair to say, by almost every measure, that 2019 has been for Romania, thus far, a remarkable year. Not least because of Romania’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, now coming to an end after months of hard work and accomplishment, and which has brought so much activity and international attention to this country, not only for and amongst Europeans, but also for the wider world, including Canada.
Canadians are proud of, and committed to, our strong relationship with Europe – with whom we share common strategic interests; the enduring core values of democracy, the preservation of the rule of law, and respect for human rights; and a profound and growing economic relationship, only made stronger by the Canada-EU Free Trade Agreement (CETA), now practically in effect in Canada and in every EU member state. Everyday, Romanian and Canadian businesses, service providers, and entrepreneurs are reaping the benefits of zero-tariff trade in goods and services between our two countries.
2019 has been, and will continue to be, a very busy year for Canada-Romania relations, and has already featured important visits to Romania by Canadian Ministers, Special Envoys, Members of Parliament, military dignitaries including our Chief of Defence Staff, General Jonathan Vance, academics, business representatives and trade missions, and countless officials who have all contributed to, and benefited from, the ever deepening relationship between our two countries.
I say it every year, but it bears repeating this year, that much of our relationship is anchored by the 200,000 Canadian citizens of Romanian descent, whose ties of family, and culture, and business activity sustains an undercurrent of goodwill and positive momentum in the relationship that I as a Canadian diplomat can only strive to be worthy of, and can only aspire to live up to.
I would like to make special mention this year of Canada’s relationship with Romania in the domain of defence and security. Because it has never been stronger. In September, for the third consecutive year, fighter jets of the Royal Canadian Air Force will deploy to Romania to conduct air policing operations, under NATO auspices, alongside the Romanian Air Force.
Canadian ships are deployed to the Black Sea on a rotating basis and exercise alongside many of our NATO allies, including the Romanian Navy; and we were honoured to have had President Iohannis aboard the HMCS TORONTO during her port visit to Constanta earlier this year, in the context of Exercise SEA SHIELD. This is in addition to the numerous exercises the Canadian Armed Forces undertake in and with Romania, on land, on sea, and in the air.
I am particularly proud of the efforts that Canada and Romania are making together to bring peace and security to the wider world.
Romania was an early signatory the Vancouver Principles, by which we have adopted an assertive stance on preventing the recruitment of child soldiers in war-torn environments;
We are working together to help our friend, and your neighbour, Ukraine, to be resilient in the face of aggression from the outside; and Canada is grateful for the invaluable and indeed sometimes inherently dangerous service that the Romanian embassy in Damascus provides Canada from a consular perspective, as Romania acts as Canada’s protecting power in Syria.
I have been tremendously privileged to have played a role over the past several months in forging an agreement between Romania and Canada whereby the Romanian Armed Forces will deploy to Mali later this year with air MEDEVAC capabilities, fulfilling a role that Canada has played for over one year, in support of the UN peacekeeping mission in that troubled African nation.
As many of you know, Canada is proud of its peacekeeping tradition. It was a Canadian Prime Minister, Lester B. Pearson, who first conceived of peacekeeping in the context of the 1956 Suez Crisis. And since then, more than 125,000 Canadians have served abroad in support of UN peacekeeping operations around the world.
This track record represents one of the reasons why Canada is running for a seat of the UN Security Council for the 2021-22 term, in elections that will be held this time next year, at the General Assembly in New York.
Our ambition is to serve on a UN Security Council that will serve the interests of member states. We want the Council to work better. As Canadians, we have a lot to offer to achieve this goal. If Canada is elected to the Security Council, you can count on us to defend what is important; be clear and consistent and focus on creating links rather than divisions.
Our priorities will be to:
- consolidate and maintain peace for the communities we serve;
- address the serious risks that climate change poses to security;
- realize the potential of investment to foster a more inclusive, sustainable and peaceful world;
- advance gender equality; and
- revitalize the multilateral system.
Let me conclude by mentioning that it is wonderful to see so many friendly faces here from the diplomatic corps, particularly those of you with whom I’ve worked very closely over the past three years. I’m sad to say that many of my closest colleagues are leaving this summer, or have already left. I can say only that I sincerely hope our paths will cross again.
And with that, I have the honour to wish you all a very happy Canada Day. We are 152 years young, the best is yet to come.
Bonne fête, Canada!