Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Affairs and Cooperation Arancha González Laya is paying an official visit to Bucharest today at the invitation of her Romanian counterpart Bogdan Aurescu.
This constitutes a symbolic trip as it marks the first visit of a Spanish official abroad, but also the first reception of the Romanian Foreign Minister. It takes place in a year that marks the 140th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations, signaling an occasion for a rich program of political-diplomatic events, public and cultural diplomacy to celebrate the anniversary.
In a press conference after their meeting, Aurescu stressed that the two countries have strong strategic ties and thanked the Spanish authorities for supporting the large Romanian community living in Spain which, as the Spanish official assured him, is well integrated into the host society.
The Romanian official said the visit was setting the ground for the first joint meeting of the two countries’ governments in early summer if the pandemic allows, in order for tangible results to be produced. On the occasion of the meeting, an economic forum will be organized to diversify and expand financial and sectoral relations. Romania is interested in new Spanish investments and cooperation in the field of high innovative technology and digital economy.
Issues raised by Romanians living in Spain, in particular dual citizenship, were also discussed. Additionally, European agenda issues such as COVID-19 vaccination (without any reference to the proposal for the vaccination certificate in the declarations), the Conference on the Future of the EU, European Budget issues and issues related to the Recovery Fund were also touched upon.
International and security issues and the two countries’ co-operation in the NATO context were also discussed. On this occasion, Aurescu thanked Spain for the aerial “policing” of the area over Romania in the first months of this year and welcomed the Madrid initiative to host the Alliance summit next year – on the 40th anniversary of Spain’s NATO accession.
Talks also included issues related to Russia and the Navalny case who, as Aurescu stressed, should be released like all peaceful protesters. Moreover, Western Balkan and Molodovan affairs were discussed, with the Romanian Minister emphasizing that his country supports the European perspective of both the former and the latter. The two ministers also touched upon Euro-Turkish relations with converging points of view according to Aurescu, as well as issues of frozen conflicts.
Finally, the Romanian official thanked Spain for its support toward Romania’s bid to join the OECD, stressing that talks between the two officials would continue after the press conference. Prior to the talks with Aurescu, the Spanish official had a meeting with Prime Minister Florin Citu, while afterwards she met at the Cotroceni Palace with President Klaus Iohannis.
For her part, the Spanish minister stressed her country’s interest in strengthening their bilateral strategic relationship, underlining the contribution of Romanian citizens to Spanish society and noting that the issue of dual identity would be addressed. She called for the expansion of Spanish economic presence in Romania and the pursuit of synergies within the recovery plan, as well as co-operation in the fields of culture and education.
“We want to discuss common ways of tackling immigration and asylum issues,” said the Spanish foreign minister, “because we are facing similar challenges.”
In the field of defense, she described the Spanish presence in Romania as a small indication of how seriously her country approaches defense and security issues in NATO. Closing her statements, Arancha González Laya told Bogdan Aurescu that she was expecting him in Spain in June. /ibna