At the International Security Conference held in Munich late last week Romania had one of the biggest delegations. The country was represented by the transitional Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, who was accompanied by Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu, Defense Minster Nicolae Ciucă, the adviser to Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on national security Ion Oprişor, as well as by the Ambassador of Romania to Berlin Emil Hurezeanu.
Mr. Orban’s program in the Bavarian capital included meetings with the Prime Ministers of Kuwait and Georgia; the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte; the European Commission Vice President Věra Jourová; the Google Vice President; the President of the German Eastern Business Association Oliver Hermes; Bishop Sofian Brașoveanul and General James Jones, Honorary President of the Atlantic Council US and President of Jones Group International. Furthermore, he attended the reception hosted by the President of Raytheon International (see military base at Deveselu) Christopher J. Davis, the dinner held by the Romanian-German and German-Romanian Cooperation Forum, as well as the official dinner by the Prime Minister of the State of Bavaria, Mark Söder.
The Ministers accompanying Mr. Orban also participated in bilateral meetings and roundtables, which were scheduled in parallel with the proceedings of the Conference. Among those meetings there was that of Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu with his Turkish counterpart.
The speech of the honorary Romanian Prime Minister was held in a panel titled “Eurovision Contest: A Europe That Protects”, which was also attended by the President of Slovakia Zuzana Čaputová, the Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, the European Commission Vice Presidents Věra Jourová and Margaritis Schinas, the President of the German Greens Party Annalena Baerbock and the Prime Minister of the State of Rhine-Westphalia Armin Laschet.
In his speech, Mr. Orban referred to his country’s goal of joining the Schengen Area, outlining the efforts made by the Bucharest authorities to meet the criteria for joining the Eurozone, while stressing “Romania’s extremely important role in safeguarding an important part of the EU border”. He also underlined the importance of the EU enlargement to include the Western Balkans, but also of the increased attention that must be given to the Eastern Partners for the Union’s external security.
As for the negotiations on the future financial framework, he underlined the need for an ambitious budget that addresses the new challenges but at the same time is sufficiently balanced to support traditional EU policies – cohesion policy and the CFP. He stressed the need to increase the contribution of the Member States to the Community Budget.
Romania, he stressed, could play an even more important role in the regional energy game, both because of the utilization of its own resources and because of its active role in the future distribution of energy resources on the European market. Interconnection plans with Bulgaria, Hungary, the Republic of Moldova and in the future with Serbia, as well as the country’s participation in the northern corridor and the most important component of BRUA highlight, according to the Romanian Prime Minister, the possibility of attracting new investments in this field.
During talks with the Vice-President of the Commission on Values and Transparency Věra Jourová, the two officials reiterated their support for the Union’s enlargement policy and expressed hope that a positive decision would be made to kick off accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia at the May Summit in Zagreb. The Romanian Prime Minister once again pointed out that it was important that the EU continued to support the Eastern Partnership countries.
Referring to the priorities set by Bucharest, he stressed that the urgent closure of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (MCV) as soon as possible constituted a number-one priority, outlining the measures taken to combat corruption at government level.
Miss Jourová welcomed Romania’s return to a positive track on the fight against corruption, yet she stressed that the progress that had been achieved had to be kept up.
Discussions during the Conference with his Georgian counterpart Giorgi Gakharia revolved around their bilateral relations and prospects, focusing on the development of economic cooperation, including the interconnection sector, as well as Georgia’s relations with the EU and NATO. The Romanian Prime Minister expressed his satisfaction for the fact that the special relations shared by the two countries could potentially lead to get an upgrade to a strategic partnership level. He thanked Georgia for its active involvement in the Black Sea-Caspian Sea Freight Corridor project (ed. a project initiated by Turkmenistan and Romania), underlining that Romania was counting, in the future as well, on the Georgian side’s support for actions related to this project. He reiterated that Romania supported Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations and would continue to do so actively using the tools available both bilaterally and within the EU and NATO. He also re-stated his country’s support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders.
Mr. Gakharia underlined that, for Georgia, Romania constituted a gateway to Central and Western Europe, a role that Georgia could take on for Romania regarding its access to the eastern markets. The two Prime Ministers stressed the importance of ensuring a permanent connection between Constanta and the Georgian ports. In addition, the two officials discussed issues of regional co-operation, with an emphasis on BSEC, currently chaired by Romania. The Georgian Prime Minister thanked Romania for its support and urged Mr. Orban to visit his country, with the Romanian Prime Minister accepting the invitation.
In a meeting with Mark Rutte, Mr. Orban outlined Romania’s “legitimate objective” of completing the Schengen accession process, stressing that his country was ready. He also reiterated that Bucharest was in favor of the EU enlargement and the opening of the accession negotiations for Albania and North Macedonia.
The contacts the Romanian Prime Minister held with representatives of the business world were equally important. Mr. Orban met with Google’s Vice President for Global Affairs Kent Walker, presenting the benefits of the Romanian investment and business environment in general, as well as the relative measures taken by his government. He also called on Google’s Vice President to consider whether his company could establish a branch in Romania.
The informal meeting with representatives of the Romanian-German and German-Romanian Forum was also attended by the Chairman of the Committee on European Affairs of the German Federal Parliament Gunther Krichbaum, the German Governmental Commissioner for National Minorities Bernd Fabritius, and various other officials.
Mr. Ludovic Orban noted the strategic nature of their bilateral cooperation, which has recorded an upward tendency, expressing his appreciation for the action of the two Forums which have made a significant contribution to strengthening the relationship between the two countries. At the same time, he pointed to the pivotal role of the German minority in Romania and the Romanian community in Germany in shaping the dynamics of the relationship between the two countries.
In summary, the Romanian Prime Minister considers maintaining transatlantic relations essential for European security, while he welcomed once again the US commitment to the Three Seas Initiative and the Black Sea region security debate that took place under the auspices of the New Strategy Center (România) and CEPA (Statele Unite) think tanks. /ibna