Peace in the Middle East and Romanian-Israeli cooperation have dominated the talks in Israel.
Despite living thousands of kilometres away from the epicentre of the conflict, Romanians have always taken a keen interest in the situation in the Middle East. The religious sensitiveness of a majority Orthodox nation has fuelled a constant fascination for what religious writings call the “holy land”.
The hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens who have Romanian origins are the most solid bridge between the two countries. The tens of the thousands of young Arab students in post-war Romania, including many Palestinians, have also fuelled Romania’s interest in that region. Not to mention that in 1967, Romania was the only country in the former communist bloc that refused to break off diplomatic ties with Israel, against Moscow’s orders.
Beyond the deluded ambitions of the former communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who volunteered to act as a mediator between the Israelis and the Palestinians hoping he would be awarded the Nobel peace prize, the fact remains that Romania has always been a credible partner for dialogue for both sides.
After the collapse of Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania’s post-communist presidents Ion Iliescu, Emil Constantinescu and Traian Basescu joined international efforts to build peace in the Middle East, travelling to the region and meeting the leaders in Tel Aviv and Ramallah.
This week, it was the turn of Romania’s current president Klaus Iohannis to travel to the region for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. In Jerusalem, he told his Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin that Romania attached special importance to its relationship with Israel, and that his visit was meant to honour the 68th anniversary of uninterrupted diplomatic ties and to discuss the future of bilateral cooperation. He also said the two states had a very good dialogue on international issues, adding that there could be no compromise when it came to Israel’s security.
Klaus Iohannis: “Combating terrorism is a firm commitment of Romania’s foreign policy. Any form of cooperation with Israel in the fight against terrorism will represent a common contribution to achieving our major goal, that of bringing peace and prosperity to the world.”
President Rivlin also hailed the fact that Romania has maintained a very good relationship with Israel, as seen in areas such as trade, science and the economy.
Reuven Rivlin: “I commend the support you have shown many times for Israel and for developing wide-ranging relations with our country. We already cooperate in areas related to strategy and defence. Israel is interested in and will be happy to expand cooperation in the areas of cybernetics, agriculture, healthcare, industry and development.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also emphasised the human and cultural links between the two countries and recalled the significant investments made by Israeli business people in Romania.