As we join our American friends in the Independence Day festivities, it is a good moment to reflect upon the particular significance of this year’s celebrations for the U.S.-Romania partnership.
Last year, the Centennial anniversary of the 1918 Great Union provided an opportunity to remember the United States’ decisive support for Romania’s national unity. In 2019, a different historical landmark allows us to celebrate another chapter in the Romanian-American friendship.
30 years ago, in 1989, Romanians rose up against the totalitarian Communist regime and helped bring down the Iron Curtain that had for so long divided Europe. It was an act that required great courage and sacrifice. Romanians paid dearly for their freedom – more than any other European nation.
In 1989, Romania emerged in a new world, marked by uncertainty, but also by hope. The decades of Communist rule had not managed to erase the Romanians’ sense of their Western identity, or their desire to rejoin what they considered their natural family of nations. The country’s goals were clear, but the path ahead seemed at times impossibly difficult.
However, we were not alone. Echoing the American support given in 1918 to the democratic aspirations of Central and East European nations, in 1989, the United States, led by President George H.W. Bush (a great American and a great friend of Romania who has sadly left us last year) once again stood by those countries that had freed themselves from Communist rule, and helped them on their return to democracy and integration into the Euro-Atlantic institutions.
1989 proved once more the strength of the Romanian-American friendship, which had endured even through the Cold War. Its resilience is anchored by strong roots: shared values and a strong commitment to freedom and democracy, shared strategic interests in support of a stable, secure and prosperous world, and, above all, the genuine friendship between our two peoples.
Over the last 30 years, the Romanian-American friendship was formalized in a bilateral Strategic Partnership in 1997 and was augmented by Romania joining NATO in 2004. This highlights yet another historical landmark for the U.S.-Romania relationship: the celebration, in 2019, of the 15 year anniversary of Romania’s accession to the North Atlantic Alliance.
It would be hard to describe the amount of work and dedication Romanians put into achieving this goal. But accession was not a solitary endeavor and we are deeply grateful to our American friends and partners for their support and advice. Our two countries are now bound by the world’s strongest collective defense pledge, so memorably reaffirmed by Presidents Trump and Iohannis in their first White House meeting.
Our joint commitment to Euro-Atlantic and global security was clearly expressed on the battlefield, where American and Romanian troops have served and fought side by side, but also at the political level, as part of the ambitious project to strengthen and modernize the North Atlantic Alliance, which includes the allocation of necessary resources and the increase of national capabilities.
2019 also marked an extraordinary moment in the journey that Romania started in 1989 towards regaining its place in the European family. For the first time since its accession to the EU in 2007, Romania held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. This highly appreciated and successful mandate, finalized only a few days ago, proved once more that Romania can and should make a decisive contribution to shaping Europe’s new strategic vision.
From Romania’s perspective, one of the central pillars of this strategic vision is and must remain the Transatlantic relationship. It would not be an understatement to say that this is the single most important relationship in the world today. Romania’s own history over the last century has proven the value and strength of a close partnership across the Atlantic, as well as the dangers and costs of disunity.
As we remember, in this moment of celebration, all that unites Romania and the United States, as we recall all the key moments in history when our two great nations stood together in support of freedom and democracy, as we see now our close Strategic Partnership and take pride in its achievements, let us also look to the future, to everything that we can achieve together, and jointly work to fulfill the great potential of our cooperation.
For its friendship and solidarity in some of history’s most important and difficult moments, our heartfelt gratitude goes to our American friends. God bless Romania! God bless the United States of America! Happy Independence Day!