Romania’s foreign policy priorities as presented by the Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu in a comprehensive interview on Radio Romania.
The Romanian Foreign Minister insisted on the relationship between Bucharest and Washington and on Romania’s role as a contributor to security. On July 11, 2017, Romania and the US celebrated 20 years of Strategic Partnership, which, according to Minister Melescanu, had a direct contribution to stimulating and speeding up Romania’s internal reforms and contributed to the country’s accession to NATO.
Teodor Melescanu: “The Partnership also contributes to defining Romania’s strategic profile, so the fact that Romania hosts on its territory the Deveselu facility, which has been operational since 2016, is the concrete contribution of both Romania and the US to European security. In our opinion, the US plays an undisputable and vital role in ensuring both Romania’s and Europe’s security. This transatlantic relationship is very important to us, and also to the EU and the United States. Romania is one of America’s important partners, also as regards the fight against asymmetrical global threats, cyber crime, illegal trafficking and terrorism. There is also a good level of cooperation with the US in terms of exchanging intelligence.”
At the same time, the Romanian Foreign Ministry (MAE) will continue to use all available tools, including the political and diplomatic ones, so that Romanians can travel without visas to the US.
Teodor Melescanu: “For this purpose, we have initiated a highly dynamic dialogue at technical and political level, with the American authorities and also with the European Commission, all aimed at ensuring full reciprocity in terms of lifting the visa requirements for the Romanian citizens travelling to the US. In this context, I want to mention the fact that, in June, the European Commission and the United States signed a declaration on visa reciprocity, in which the parties commit themselves to working together on assisting the five EU member states that are not yet part of the Visa Waiver system, among which Romania, and help them make more progress in complying with the requirements of the American legislation. Our main problem is neither political nor diplomatic. We have been developing, ever since 2007, a strong collaboration with the US, for the implementation of the new technical and security criteria. The only condition that Romania still has to comply with - given that all other criteria, such as travel documents security, border checks and immigration have already been met – is to diminish the number of visa applications rejected by the American consulates in the case of Romanian citizens.”
As for the economic dimension of the Strategic Partnership, although it has not reached its full potential yet, it is being constantly consolidated. Thus, between January and August 2017, the American exports to Romania went up by 33%, while Romania exports to the US increased by 11%.
In its interview to Radio Romania, Teodor Melescanu also referred to the anti-terrorist efforts in the EU, and reminded some of the instruments meant to contribute significantly to reducing the terrorist threat. First of all, the EU’s global security strategy was adopted, starting from the idea of improving connection between domestic and foreign policies.
Teodor Melescanu: “Romania, within the EU institution, supports the promotion of specific measures to fight the plague of online radicalisation, violent extremism and the financing of terrorism, mainly through an exchange of information between member states. Fortunately, Romania does not have to deal with such phenomena internally, although, as you know, almost all terrorist attacks that took place in Europe, from the one in Madrid in 2004 to the attack in Barcelona in the summer of 2017, had Romanian citizens among the victims. The lack of a terrorist threat at home does not mean that Romania is not involved in the fight against terrorism. Given its status as an EU and NATO member, Romania is part of an integrated effort of combating terrorism, a comprehensive anti-terror plan that has put the observance of fundamental rights at the base of all its actions.”
Terrorism and violent extremism are cross-border phenomena, for which reason, Minister Melescanu says, the involvement of all partner states in fighting this plague is vital.