Speech of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Ramona N. Mănescu, at the opening of the Annual Meeting of the Romanian Diplomacy

Speaker: 
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ramona N. Manescu
Date: 
08/26/19
Location: 
Bucharest

 

Romania's Diplomacy: Benchmarks and New Perspectives

 

Good morning and welcome!

Mr President of the Senate,

Madam Vice-President of the Chamber of Deputies,

Dear Members of Parliament,

Dear Members of the Government of Romania,

Ladies and Gentlemen, Ambassadors and Consuls-general of Romania,

Ladies and Gentlemen, Ambassadors, Heads of Mission and Consuls-general accredited in Bucharest,

Distinguished Members of the diplomatic corps of Romania and of the foreign diplomatic corps in Bucharest,

Ladies and Gentlemen MEPs,

Honourable audience,

 

I could not begin without paying tribute to H.E. the late Mihnea Constantinescu, one of our high-ranking diplomats, a larger than life, fully accomplished personality and a great mentor, who has, since the last Annual Meeting of the Romanian Diplomacy, sadly left us.

People like Ambassador Constantinescu have built a true monument to the civil service. In respectful recognition of their work in diplomacy, we should feel inspired to pursue excellence, ever more determinedly, in upholding the interests of the state.

I would now like to invite us to hold a moment of silence in the memory of our colleague.

***

Thank you.

 

I have recently assumed the mission of Minister of Foreign Affairs, a position that obliges and honours me. I have already had the opportunity to appreciate the high level of professionalism and dedication of the personnel of the Ministry, from both Headquarters and the missions abroad.

First from the distance entailed by my previous MEP position, then as a Minister. Now, as a representative and message carrier on behalf of your efforts.

In the short time since my installation, I have already had the occasion to meet you, to talk with many of you, to hear your proposals, and I hope to discuss more fully and develop those proposals in the margins of this meeting.

I confess my deep respect for your work in the service of our country.

You are an elite of the Romanian state and Romania is proud to be able to count on your work and diligence.

Today's meeting is, to begin with, a moment of self-analysis for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It is also an opportunity to examine our image in the perception of others: foreign guests, other institutions, the media, the business community, and even the general audience.

The 2019 meeting of the Romanian Diplomacy distinguishes itself from the previous ones.

The interval from 2018 until now wears the imprint of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council.

Our Presidency has undeniably generated remarkable results and a positive image, of which we are proud.

I cannot think of a better chance of honouring our potential as a country.

It is a success that validates Romania’s capacities on multiple levels: institutional, conceptual and organisational, in stocktaking and vision, in both the strategical and tactical sense.

This success was also clearly reflected at the external level.

Our diplomats played a key role in this Presidency.

And I congratulate you for reconfirming that diplomacy is not a mere carrier medium for the national message.  

Diplomacy has been able to change things for the better.

We do not only contribute to shaping up Romania’s merited profile in the world. As we have shown in the first six months of this year, we also added our particular, significant input to strengthening cooperation within the European Union.

At the same time: we have today a much broader perspective, from the vantage point of Romania’s democratic and free evolution of the last thirty years, evidenced by profound transformations internally, and externally.

Over these last three decades, the noble, difficult, and discreet mission of the Romanian diplomacy has been indeed to take upon the aspirations of our society, to shoulder its initial probing and travail, steering the transformations in the right direction and bringing them to fruition by our irreversibly anchoring in the European and Euro-Atlantic community.

The welfare and living standards that most of Romania’s citizens have come to enjoy, and our current level of security are rooted in such profound transformations.

The success of our country’s radical transformation is also the success of the Romanian diplomacy.

In this process, the external and internal factors have often interlocked to advance our benchmarks and widen our perspectives. This is how we have charted an external policy and assembled a proper toolkit in international relations, supporting Romania's aspirations.

Today, we enjoy true prosperity, freedom, democracy, we benefit from extensive energy - and digital connectivity, from unprecedented information exchange capabilities, from the ample and diverse movement of citizens and capital, allowing us to more fully appreciate Europe’s diversity and more clearly appreciate the importance of international cooperation.

These are the essential values that Romania’s diplomacy is called upon to promote, in every facet of its activity, together with our NATO allies, with our partners in the European Union, with like-minded states on every meridian.

This is why engaging in the global dialogue is so important to advancing such values from the bilateral through to the multilateral level, to make them more and more present in the daily life of people in every country and region.

Our success, and the success of the community of states to which we belong, ought not to be considered a permanent and assured gain. Our attention should not be diverted from the still present reality of conflict and inequalities, transnational risks and threats, national or international anxieties that never cease to press us.

Our society must be prepared to handle these challenges adequately.

In such times of uncertainty and global overhaul as ours, diplomacy plays an even more vital role in strengthening resilience throughout.

Success is always easy to administrate and publicise.

Our own task though at this reunion is to share assessments and analyses from all across the world, to be proactive in finding opportunities, to provide solutions for managing uncertainties, and to lay solid foundations for our future success.

It is in this context that I am especially pleased for us to be able today to welcome such reliable partners of Romania, representing neighbouring countries with which share common positions and interests, like Bulgaria and the Republic of Moldova.

I also rely on the special role and input of Ambassador Ischinger, the Chair and coordinator of the prestigious Munich Security Conference.

This event should significantly contribute to our discerning, to our understanding of the turbulences around us, and to keeping us alert towards them.

I wish that at the upcoming meetings in Munich, we will hear Romania’s voice more clearly and stronger, especially given the substantial role that Romania plays in European security architectures, both at the Black Sea and in NATO.

***

We wish for Romania and its citizens economic prosperity and development, social peace, cultural richness.

We cannot talk about all this without talking about security.

The security we enjoy today, alongside our Allies and partners with shared values, is perhaps self-evident. It should however never be taken for granted. Security is neither a given nor a privilege. It is the sum total of our actions. We all have a role to play in its defence.

For you, as diplomats, safeguarding Romania's security is intrinsic to your action.

And any discussion of security starts from the risks and threats we must respond to.

Risks are always there, with us, and are constantly changing in nature, form and propagation channels.

This is why I believe that Romania should have a clearer, more articulated and at the same time -- why not -- more sophisticated voice in NATO and the EU, to build a better common understanding of our tasks, and especially of the threats we all face.

Our security is predicated on the need for collective strategic action, and on a convergent security culture.

We need to be consistent, steadfast and thorough in upholding our strategic and security narrative.

Romania can capitalise on its solid range of strategic partnerships and relationships, beginning with the United States and some major European countries: France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. We also cannot lose sight of, cannot lose focus and can count, at the Eastern flank, on the strategic partnerships with Poland and Turkey, which are here to stay as a firm underpinning of our security strategy mission.

Romania’s Presidency of the EU Council was a very well conducted exercise at the European and Transatlantic levels. This exercise is in fact not over, as we will continue and capitalise on the results already achieved.

At 12 years of EU accession, I think we have passed the European maturity exam well.

Despite some misgivings, we have delivered results, for Romania and for the European Union. We have shown that we can perform at the forefront of European politics and policies, even though the starting premises were in fact not very favourable to Romania.

And the challenges do not end here.

In the context of a very complicated set of conditions generated by BREXIT, and then by its postponement, Romania needs to continue its good cooperation with the United Kingdom, and to work together on adapting our partnership to some new prerequisites and opportunities.

Very important: our fellow Romanians in the UK need to know that one of the main purposes of this partnership is to serve them, and that we are defending their rights as European citizens.

The Strategic Partnership with the US and NATO’s Allied capacity remain pillars of our security, given the very real ongoing challenges in the Black Sea region, whatever their degree of intensity and whatever form they take.

NATO’s diplomacy has to focus on modernising the Alliance's response options, including threats that fall under Article V.

NATO is more relevant than ever, and our duty as reliable Allies is to be ready and contribute to its exercise of solidarity at all times.

At the EU level, the focus should be on an integrated approach of the tools we have available, both in the hard and soft dimensions.

The debate on an Europe of Defence will certainly continue, as very tangible progress in the European Security and Defence Policy is already reached. We have directly and concretely supported this task while being at the Presidency of the EU Council.

Romania needs to remain involved and active even in this dimension. We need to make sure that the decisions taken in this regard at the EU level respond to our common strategic priorities and rise to the challenges of the future.

And we must at any cost avoid a situation where these developments generate greater political costs than their expected benefits.

As always, Romania can be a catalyst for balance and dialogue, in the task of ensuring complementarity between our two main alliances, between what happens at NATO’s level and at the EU’s level in the area of defence.

In this regard, the traditional duties of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are complemented by a mission to defend our national image, identity and values, Romania’s language and history, to defend a vision of the place and role of this country in today’s world, of our alliances and partnerships, all through better and more efficient strategic communication.

As information warfare has become one of the most redoubtable weapons of the century, we must develop adequate mechanisms to help evolve and protect Romania's image and prestige.

These are topics that I am sure we will be able to discuss with Minister Popescu from the Republic of Moldova.

They are of interest to our governments and societies, and directly relevant to the transformations underway and to the perspectives both parties, Romania and the Republic of Moldova, have on things.

I am particularly honoured that my colleague accepted our invitation, especially at this time, and the relationship between our countries remains of prime importance for any Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Romania stands together with the Republic of Moldova in its efforts for European integration, reform of the state and society, in keeping with the aspirations of our neighbour country’s citizens.

***

Distinguished audience,

Our type of action in promoting Romania’s foreign policy, its place and role in international institutions, its options and interests, is subject to continuous adaptation.

As we need military and security bodies adapted to present day threats, we also need a well-developed, professional and capable diplomacy that can prevent any possible amplification of these threats and any concrete risks to our country.

The diplomatic toolbox always need to be consolidated and professional excellence constantly improved, in keeping with what is happening at a global level in every moment.

The same goes for the economic diplomacy, with its well-known to you aspects, and also in its new perspectives. We are dealing with a new international environment, where what dictates the trends is connectivity.

Connectivity is a defining factor in our globalized societies, and a decisive one for their future, primarily as an incentive for economic growth.

So we are talking about a multi-dimensional impact: from the business environment, energy, transport, research & innovation and not least, culture and inter-human relations.

Our prosperity largely depends on the capabilities of our economic diplomacy. We need to make sure that we are making the most out of globalisation and the current trends in the world.

We need the courage to be more active in the ongoing international conversation on how best we can make globalisation generate more benefits and greater welfare.

Without widespread prosperity and development, our challenges will be increasing.

Promoting the essential role of multilateralism remains highly topical, especially in light of the newly emerging trends of global power politics, of the tendency to stir up new tools of dominance and revive spheres of power and even of the inclination to once more resort to selective power concert formulas, in the quest to dominate in a new global overhaul.

The Community method from our EU experience of negotiating and looking for compromise, as seen and exercised also during our Presidency, is a good lesson learned, showing how smaller and larger states can harmonize their interests and prosper together, by virtue of their sovereign equality.

And today, on the 80th anniversary of the Ribentropp-Molotov Pact and 30 years from the fall of the Berlin Wall, as we commemorate the European Day of the victims of totalitarian regimes, we must say loud and clear that such horrors must never return, that such behaviours is unacceptable for all and every state in this 21st century!

The multilateral approach needs adaptation, not by any means abandonment.

More than ever, the EU model needs to be promoted and sustained, as an alternative to exacerbating zero-sum games in global politics.

We cannot have security, we cannot have peace, economic development, prosperity or international solidarity, without consistent multilateral approaches.

Our presence in organisations such as the UN, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, and our efforts to join the OECD is part of our mission, as well as it is a means to sustain and accomplish Romania's foreign policy agenda in integration and connection with global trends, evolutions and perspectives, and a vehicle for realizing Romania's foreign policy interests.

I want to emphasise our OECD accession, as an objective on which our diplomacy must once more focus its competences and its dedication.

Regional cooperation is in its turn one of the means by which we pursue our pragmatic economic objectives and can contribute to creating propitious regional environments for our economic development.

We will accordingly invest further efforts and resources in orienting regional cooperation towards tangible results and practical projects, whether we are talking about our Western neighbourhood, our Eastern one, the Western Balkans, the extended Black Sea region – from the Middle East, North Africa, or more remote areas like Central Asia, South East Asia, South America or even the Pacific area.

In our region, we have demonstrated the ability to project policies and implement new concepts and instruments intertwining Romania's strategic interests.

Such are formats like the Poland-Romania-Turkey Trilateral, the Bucharest 9 -- a grouping of like-minded states sharing a set of concepts and interests in NATO, or the Three Seas Initiative -- demonstrating the advanced toolbox we possess and use efficiently to capacitate the interest and support of our partners and allies in the region for such projects.

Our role in promoting the Three Seas Initiative has confirmed our ability to be proactive in the area of infrastructure and regional connectivity.

Promoting new infrastructures, new energy flows, digital flows as freely as possible, in cooperation with our established partners and not only, along with opening new markets and opportunities are essential new facets of diplomacy.

I want energy diplomacy to be a key dimension in the activities of Romanian missions abroad.

Because energy is a key indicator of success in our strategic approach, and of how we make sure that our interests are protected into the medium and long term.

The new perspectives in digital, technology, R&I require an adaptation of our efforts, including our diplomatic one, to these new realities and up-to-date developments, to open up opportunities for sustainable development and the economic prosperity of our citizens.

This in turn requires that active interconnection and expansion in our relations with other states keep a strong focus on technological innovation, international research, and transfer and import of technology.

An essential part of our integration and connecting our potential with international flows is certainly the renewal and continuous adaptation of the defining components of our attractiveness as a credible, loyal and valuable partner.

Public, scientific and cultural diplomacy also add to this sustainable solution and cannot be left to lag behind.

Major projects, such as the Romania-France Cultural Season, or the soon-to-be-launched Europalia have the vocation of refreshing our country’s image and the connections already built with our partners, with their echoes multiplied in special by the prestige that exercising the EU Council Presidency has brought.

In terms of perception, our points of reference should be not only our partners and our allies. We also must relate with greater attention and dedication to the Romanian community abroad.

This community should be able to convince itself, to see the proofs of the attention the Romanian state has for them.

We need to stay familiarised with and be close to the Romanian community in every state in which you are accredited, and our dialogue with them must be a permanent one, these communities being an intrinsic part of the Romania that we all represent.

Equally essential is a strengthened collaboration of our consular network with the Romanian community in the homestretch to the November presidential elections.

This dialogue should allow us to identify specific challenges in good time, and I know many heads of missions have already started consultations with Romanian citizens abroad.

I congratulate you and I encourage you to continue on this good way!

I have complete confidence in the ability of each one of you to mobilise for, and to achieve very good results in this effort.

The consular work put in the service of the Romanian citizens, and the added creativity of the cultural projects you come up with, as part of the mission of fostering the connection with our citizens abroad, must be your constant priorities.

For the colleagues active at the Headquarters of the Ministry, especially in the support departments, it is very important to be able respond positively and in time to our missions’ requests, so that we can have efficient representation and impact.

To be clear: sometimes these activities are slowed down or limited by bureaucratic-administrative problems.

If we were able to prove that we can manage the huge and complex administrative mechanism of an EU Council Presidency, then we have the professional and logistical capacity to support in a timely fashion the work of our diplomatic missions.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs cannot be more complicated than the Council of the European Union.

While evoking the diplomatic milestones of 2019, we cannot overlook the symbolic dimension of the present interval, so very indicative not just for values, but also for the history of our recent years.

Let me point out that the discussion on values is not a philosophical or merely symbolic exercise.

The present time demands action in the defence and reaffirmation of our values.

We cannot disregard the current perception that the model of liberal democracy is the object of challenges from the outside, as it is the subject of doubts, interpretations and relativism about fundamental values within - and I am speaking here equally of Romania and of many states even in the European Union.

Citizen trust in the institutions of liberal democracy is under siege in many instances, and our responsibility as public service professionals is to replace sometimes pervasive doubt and uncertainty with confidence and competency.

This is all the more important in relation with young people, who are always mobile and very good with technology, and who expect assistance and support from essential state institutions, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

***

Honourable audience,

In times of uncertainty, our diplomacy must seek and cultivate certitude,
while also paying attention to the fluid contexts in which it acts and to their  implications.

Our construction is a continuum. It does not end on a certain day of the year allowing us a well-deserved vacation.

Our construction continually grows, along with all the benchmarks I touched upon above, and is implemented at multiple levels: from the bilateral to the multilateral, from strategic partnerships to building new ones, or even to opening the first stages of new bilateral relations – as it has been increasingly the case in recent years while we have been establishing new relationships in remote areas of the globe.

We will talk a great deal in the following days evaluating our EU Council Presidency.

I personally believe that the successes of this Presidency will remain a guide for the future, and an invitation to maintain our level of ambition and determination.

I would like especially to thank Minister Delegate for European Affairs George Ciamba for his energy, perseverance and determination, having made the Presidency of the Council a true business card for Romanian diplomacy, along with, of course, our entire Brussels team, our team at Headquarters/in Central Office and all our representatives abroad.

Everything we have achieved -- initiatives, credibility or expertise deserve to be taken further ahead, with further advances in all areas where Romania has a national interest.

I am thinking here of adapting the Eastern Partnership to better respond, for example, to the aspirations of the Republic of Moldova, of the future of EU’s relations with the Black Sea region, of EU enlargement with the Western Balkans, of the EU-Turkey relationship, respectively of Central Asia, the relationship with China, the partnership with Africa, and the EU's role globally, including the close link between security and development, and our commitment to multilateralism.

That is why I would like all of us to reflect, in our discussions on this meeting and in the immediate interval ahead, what are the lessons learned.

In particular, I would like you to consider the benefits for all of us of the diplomatic action of this last year, and how we can better and more wisely used them, with a clearer sense of application, how we can increase the efficiency of our efforts, what priority issues we want to promote, what concrete projects we need to support next, what levers of action and what processes we use, what contacts we need to cultivate, at least as intensely as over this last year – so as to make everything that has been done fully deserved.

We have had multi-annual foreign policy initiatives, in which so much has been invested, including public budget resources.

I believe that we need to further capitalise, and I hope we will be able to reap new benefits, validating such investments beyond the attainment of our immediate goals.

We were able to prove that we can be a diplomacy of European and global stature. From now on we need to invest attentively, wisely, efficiently, to maintain our scope and confirm in a substantive way the good reputation so rightly gained.

I believe we can do more, and do better, as it is obvious for everyone that the Romanian diplomacy has inestimable resources.

Thank you!