Monday, January 18, 2021, 18:00
Mr. President, Ministers, Distinguished Guest, Friends.
Thank you for this great honor. I am truly humbled and gratified by this award and the honor I have had to be a part of the great renaissance that is occurring within Romania. Romania is an amazing country, a country with a bright future, and unlimited potential.
In 1965, my family and I left Romania for the United States. I was nine. At the time Romania was struggling under the tyranny of communism and corruption – a past that Romania can never repeat. Even though I grew up in the United States and I am honored to be a United States citizen, I am also honored to be – and always will be in my heart – a Romanian as well.
Romania and the United States have a special bond, a special friendship that links our countries in greatness. By working together this past year we have reached new heights in military and security cooperation; we have advanced economic and energy development; and, we have worked together to advance the Rule of Law.
This year was not easy. We have endured hardships as we suffered through a global pandemic the likes of which has not been seen by the modern world. We stood together during these troubling times and helped each other. Now, with the recent development of vaccines that are being administered, and the strength and resolve of our people, the end is hopefully in sight and we can rebuild our lives and our economies.
In 1989, Romania threw off the yoke of communism and began its quest for freedom and a better future. The people of Romania rose up and proclaimed that they knew there was a better way. The path to a better future is sometimes long and difficult, but we will continue to work together to overcome these challenges. Romania has achieved much already. The people of Romania have chosen freedom and the Rule of Law over the leftover remnants of communist cronyism and corruption. The new coalition government will bring long-needed stability and continuation of the growth begun last year.
I love the country of my birth and have been blessed to be able to come back to help Romania achieve greatness. From the first day of my appointment as the United States Ambassador I pledged to do everything I could to advance the bilateral relationship between our two great nations – and this past year we have achieved momentous things.
- We signed a ten-year defense cooperation agreement. Under this plan the Romanian military is being modernized in every respect. From new jet planes, to helicopters, to military vehicles, to new state-of-the-art Patriot and HIMARS missile systems, and most importantly, more rotational American forces in Romania; Romanian defense forces are now a credible guarantor of Romania’s interests, its borders, and a strong protector of freedom.
- We reached an agreement to finance and refurbish one nuclear reactor and build two more nuclear reactors at Cernavoda. This $8 billion project, which is financed with up to $7 billion by the United States Export Import Bank, is the largest project ever between our countries. When finished, the Cernavoda plant will supply over 40% of Romania’s electrical power needs providing low-cost, clean energy to power this country’s economic growth for years to come.
- We have advanced and nearly finished the infrastructure for Black Sea gas extraction and distribution which will commence in 2021, led by BSOG. New legislation has been drafted to encourage the extraction of gas from the biggest Romanian gas fields. This will make Romania Europe’s largest energy producer and a net exporter of energy resulting in more good paying jobs for Romanians and billions of dollars in new revenue.
- We are working together to start building Via Carpathia and the Rail2TheSea, a highway and railroad connecting the Black Sea to the Baltic. This multi-billion-dollar project will connect Romanian cities to the rest of Europe and boost Romania’s economy by helping to more efficiently transport people and goods throughout Europe and the world.
- We have worked together to foster a new zero tolerance policy regarding organized crime, fraud, corruption and intellectual property theft. The new coalition government and parliamentary majority can now move forward with much needed legislation implementing criminal justice reforms and strengthening the Rule of Law.
- This past year we also worked together to renew and strengthen the battle against human trafficking. The cooperation agreements among the Romanian Government, the City of Bucharest, and the Romanian Orthodox Church, in which they agreed to cooperate in the fight against human trafficking and care for the victims of this heinous crime, are truly historical.
- We worked together to fight malign influences by bolstering the integrity and security of Romanian telecommunications systems.
- We collaborated on numerous agrarian infrastructure projects, including irrigation canals and developing new agrarian food processing businesses.
We have achieved much in the past year, but the journey is not over. Together we will do more. Romania’s commitment to free markets, economic development and the Rule of Law ensures a bright future.
Cities throughout Romania, like Cluj, Oradea, Iasi, Timisoara and Bucharest, are models of growth and development. Free market competition and the Rule of Law will bring wealth and prosperity to everyone and will elevate Romania into an economic powerhouse.
I am confident that with you, President Iohannis, Prime Minister Citu’s coalition government and a like-minded Parliament, Romania will continue to build on the progress made over the last year. I urge all Romanians to continue this journey and to have the courage to strive to reach their full potential.
Romania has no better friend than the United States – we are – and always will be – your partner on this journey forward.
Lastly, I want to thank President Trump, for his leadership, vision and faith in me to serve him and the American people as the ambassador to the country of my birth.
Thank you once again Mr. President for this incredible honor you have bestowed upon me today. It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as the United States Ambassador to Romania.
God bless Romania and God bless the United States. Thank you.