Romania’s Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu held consultations in Washington DC on Monday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, with the meeting of the two senior officials reaffirming the firm commitment of both sides to further consolidate and deepen the strategic partnership, including by intensifying the political and diplomatic dialogue and bilateral co-operation, as well as in terms of regional and global challenges, according to the Romanian Foreign Ministry (MAE).
The political consultations between the two chief diplomats marked the opening of the seventh meeting of the Romania-US Strategic Dialogue for the implementation of the Joint Declaration for the 21st Century Strategic Partnership between Romania and the United States.
The Strategic Dialogue meeting was scheduled for the next day, being the first such meeting with the new US Administration and the first since 2018.
During the consultations, the two officials praised the consistency of the bilateral agenda and dialogue, as well as the positive developments in and prospects on all dimensions for the strategic partnership – from security and defence co-operation to political co-operation, economic, energy and human relations co-operation, reads a press statement released by MAE.
Aurescu pointed to the 10th anniversary in 2021 of the Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership for the 21st Century between Romania and the United States, and of the Agreement between the United States of America and Romania on the Deployment of the United States Ballistic Missile Defense System in Romania. At the same time, he voiced interest in marking in 2022 by a consistent bilateral agenda, the 25th anniversary of the strategic partnership between Romania and the US.
According to MAE, the two foreign ministers focused first of all on security and defence co-operation and addressed the latest security developments in the Black Sea region.
Aurescu and Blinken agreed on the need to strengthen co-operation in the political and security and defence areas, insisting on the importance of close Romania-US coordination inside NATO moving forward.
The two officials also agreed on the need for credible deterrence and response matching the challenges facing the Black Sea, especially in relation to Ukraine, as well as on keeping in close contact on that matter.
The head of Romanian diplomacy reiterated the need to pay special attention to the Black Sea region, which is essential to Euro-Atlantic security, and pointed out Romania’s desire – welcomed by the American side – to contribute substantially to the development of the future US Black Sea Security Strategy, currently being worked out by the Biden Administration.
“Bogdan Aurescu underscored that, in Romania’s vision, that strategy should take into account a multidimensional and integrated approach to deterrence, combining aspects of classic security with strengthening resilience, with the economic dimension, that of combating hybrid threats, strengthening energy security and resolving protracted conflicts. He said adequate resources are necessary to allocate for that purpose. Secretary of State Blinken appreciated Romania’s proposal as a riparian state and a responsible and staunch ally of the United States, and he agreed with the assessment of the Romanian side that the Black Sea cannot become a tool for mounting hostility and destabilisation. Aurescu highlighted the need to consolidate in a consistent and unitary manner the position of deterrence and defence on the entire NATO Eastern Flank, especially in the Black Sea, highlighting the importance that Romania attaches to increasing the US military presence in Romania,” MAE points out.
MAE says Aurescu also pointed out the importance of close coordination during the negotiations over NATO’s New Strategic Concept, which is to be adopted at a June 2022 NATO summit in Madrid.
At the same time, Aurescu underlined the important role of Romania in Central and South-Eastern Europe and the Black Sea, as well as its significant efforts to strengthen security, regional stability and strategic resilience.
The Romanian foreign minister introduced to Blinken details of his assessment of the recent developments in Moldova and Ukraine and reiterated Romania’s commitment and concrete supportive actions in relation to these partners.
As far as economic co-operation between Romania and the US goes, Aurescu highlighted the need to further develop co-operation on that level, with an emphasis on the objective of increasing American investment in the region, in addition to the security dimension.
He mentioned the importance of developing very important strategic interconnection projects to Romania, Rail2Sea and Via Carpathia, projects with a direct positive impact on both the economic development of the region and on defence mobility. The Romanian official encouraged the advancement towards the identification of concrete formulas for the participation of the US in the development of these projects, including financial contribution.
At the same time, the two senior officials underscored the importance of civilian nuclear energy co-operation between the two countries. They welcomed the strategic and symbolic relevance of President Klaus Iohannis’ announcement at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow on co-operation with the United States in developing and implementing small modular reactor (SMR) technology. That is a concrete step in the joint effort to cut carbon emissions from energy systems and toward ensuring national and regional energy security, with a potential to transform Romania into a hub for investment and supply of such technologies for European and partner countries, shows MAE.
At the same time, the Romanian official mentioned the prospects for Romania’s accession to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as one of the country’s major foreign policy priorities, thanking the American counterpart for US support in advancing the process.
In addition, Aurescu reiterated Romania’s interest, as a US strategic partner, in actual progress being made with Romania’s being included in the Visa Waiver Program as an objective of great importance to Romanian citizens, calling for the actual involvement of the American side in achieving that common goal, including by supporting an adequate communication campaign that would contribute to reducing the visa denial rate, the last criterion Romania still has to meet.
Aurescu and Blinken also reaffirmed the special importance of consolidating and deepening the transatlantic relationship. The Romanian minister underlined Romania’s full commitment to the promotion of democratic values, the consolidation of the rules-based international order and the strategic resilience of the transatlantic relationship, as well as the desire for close co-operation with the US to that end. He also voiced Romania’s interest in contributing consistently to the Summit for Democracy to be held by the US Administration in 2021.
The two officials also discussed current affairs on the international agenda, including relations with China and the shared principled approach, with Blinken commending Romania for its position and actions.
According to MAE, the two senior officials also discussed joint efforts to combat COVID-19 and the importance of international solidarity in the fight.
Aurescu reiterated his invitation to Blinken to come to Romania, openly accepted by the US secretary of state.