October 21, 2020, 10:00 a.m.
Thank you Toni, for your kind introduction. I also want to thank my friends Defense Minister Nicolae Ciuca, SRI Director Eddie Hellvig, Deputy Director Razvan Ionescu, the National Cyber Intelligence Center for organizing this event and all of the other participants. It is an honor for me to be here this morning, albeit virtually, to thank you for the great work you are doing keeping both of our countries safe. Your work to advance Romania’s leadership and capabilities in cybersecurity is absolutely first rate and second to none.
Today’s event discussing cybersecurity and cyber threats introduced by the COVID pandemic is yet another highlight of our superb bilateral relationship. The Strategic Partnership between our two countries has never been stronger. From law enforcement to national defense to economic development the United States will continue to assist Romania evolve as a regional and European leader. Romania has no better friend than the United States. As I have stated previously this is the year of the Romanian Renaissance. Romania has had a great many achievements so far this year and we still have two and a half months left. We can, and we will, achieve more, much more together. A few of the more recent achievements standout.
Under President Trump’s leadership the United States has assisted Romania achieve goals never contemplated before. President Trump’s “can do” attitude is contagious and is working. Romania has traveled far and overcome many challenges. Over the last year it has become a European leader in many areas.
Romania has become a very close strategic defense ally. The United States has helped Romania deploy the first of seven Patriot missile batteries. Additionally, HIMARS rocket systems, coastal defense systems, fighter planes, helicopters, other defense systems and equipment and most importantly, additional U.S. military personnel are being deployed to Romania. The United States recognizes the importance of Romania, a steadfast and reliable ally, protecting the Black Sea region and the eastern flank of Europe from malign Russian conduct and other malign influence. To further this military cooperation the United States and Romania signed a ten-year defense cooperation roadmap. Our next speaker, my friend Minister of National Defense Ciuca, signed this agreement for Romania with United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, for the United States, on October 8th in Washington. The United States is committed to stand, and will stand, shoulder to shoulder with the people of Romania.
A day later, on October 9th, not to be outdone, my friend Minister of Economy Virgil Popescu initialed an Intergovernmental Agreement that provides for the United States and Romania to cooperate on refurbishing one nuclear reactor and building two more at Cernavoda. This project is valued at approximately $8 billion. In addition to American, Canadian and French contributions, a substantial amount of the content for this project will be Romanian. This will be a tremendous economic boost for Romania.
Later the same day, U.S. ExIm Bank signed an MOU to provide Romania up to $7 billion in financing for the Cernavoda project. The U.S. Development Finance Corporation will also provide financial assistance. The Cernavoda project is a paradigm for future collaboration between the United States and Romania in building major infrastructure projects.
Romania is already the second largest producer of oil and gas in Europe. Its Black Sea gas reserves are very substantial. Once gas extraction commences in earnest next year and fully develops thereafter, and after Cernavoda fully comes on line, Romania will become Europe’s biggest energy producer and exporter. What an amazing achievement. It’s all due to the new Romanian can do attitude of the Orban government over the last year.
Currently, we have started working on perhaps one of the most challenging infrastructure projects to date. A highway and a railroad that will go from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea. Romania is undertaking this project in collaboration with Poland and the United States. When finished in several years this multibillion project, that will traverse several countries, will be a major boost to the economies of Romania, Poland and the entire eastern European region. After being discussed for many years, Romania will now pursue and complete this project. This project can and will be done because it needs to be done and it is the right thing to do. Romania can do it! The United States will help Romania do it.
This year, thirty years after ridding itself of the communist yoke, Romania has made advances in many other areas as well. It has determined to stamp out human trafficking with a zero tolerance policy. This shameful criminal conduct will no longer be a blemish on Romania’s people. Prime Minister Orban’s government has implemented reforms to restore the rule of law where it was infringed upon by the prior government and to root out corruption. The endemic corruption and remaining red barons of communist years have no place in modern day Romania. They have locked up Romania’s resources and industry and kept Romania’s economic and social development back long enough. Romania, a free and democratic country, is now stepping up to reach its full potential.
Communist Chinese corrupt corporations and entities like Huawei, ZTE and others also have no place in a free and democratic Romania. Communist Chinese, Russian and authoritarian state control of cyberspace are the biggest threats to our existence. Romania knows the heavy price extorted from its people by its former corrupt communist regime and refuses to allow the same corruption to sap the life blood of its people again.
Defending cyberspace isn’t just about defending networks – it’s about building alliances to make our lives safer. We have witnessed devastating state-sponsored cyber-attacks cause billions of dollars in damage across Europe, Asia and the Americas. Our adversaries deploy ever-more-sophisticated threats against our critical infrastructure, our economy and our citizens. Our foreign policy on this matter is clear: together with our international partners, the United States will promote responsible state behavior in cyberspace. When states fail to live up to those standards, we will hold them accountable. When we do this together with steadfast Allies like Romania, we strengthen our message and raise the cost to malign cyber actors, including ever-higher threats of prosecution.
The COVID pandemic tests our resiliency but at the same time has steeled our resolve as much of our day-to-day life moved online. Unfortunately, criminal organizations have leveraged the pandemic to launch new cyber-attacks and scams targeting government institutions, businesses, and individuals. Malign cyber actors, including the Communist Chinese, have attempted to steal intellectual property and public health data related to vaccines, treatments and testing. We will not stand by while cyber criminals and hostile governments seek to profit from this health crisis. We will continue our close cooperation with Romanian law enforcement and other partners as we ensure a successful recovery from COVID-19.
Over the past year, we have supported many training and assistance projects to deepen our bilateral cyber cooperation. Through the Department of Justice International Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Program, or ICHIP, the Embassy sponsored or participated in 25 virtual events aimed at educating investigators and prosecutors on new techniques to combat a wide range of cybercrimes ranging from COVID-related fraud and email compromise to ransomware attacks and dark web marketplaces. The Embassy also supported Romanian police and prosecutors through a series of trainings related to online child exploitation investigations.
We are also committed to strengthening protection of Romania’s critical infrastructure. Last November, experts from the Department of Energy conducted successful training for energy professionals on securing cyber-critical facilities in the electricity sector. We continue to work closely with the Ministry of National Defense to support the development of the Romanian Military Cyber Command and we have supported Romanian officials to attend training on cyber international law and cybersecurity strategy at the George C. Marshall Center in Germany. These activities are just a snapshot of our close and continuing partnership on this critical issue.
One of the strongest indicators of our strategic partnership has been our cooperation on 5G network security. Countries across Europe have followed the Romanian model and the leadership of President Iohannis and the Romanian Government to safeguard 5G networks against untrusted, high-risk vendors like Huawei and ZTE. The United States and the EU have supported frameworks, such as the Clean Network program and the EU 5G Toolbox, to protect 5G infrastructure from high-risk suppliers. Given the far-ranging impacts of 5G technology, we cannot allow adversaries to have network superiority, easy access to our communications and control of global supply chains. We are committed to developing clean networks built by responsible companies that share our democratic values.
As we face new threats to our digital-enabled economy, our cooperation will continue to evolve. Cybersecurity is no longer the sole domain of technical experts—it requires a whole-of-government effort and active collaboration with the private sector. Romania’s strong tradition of tech innovation and international cyber cooperation are force multipliers. We stand with Romania to deter cyber threats and secure our shared digital future.
In closing, I will say it again, Romania has no better friend than the United States. Together, we have and will continue to achieve great things.
Thank you all for your hard work protecting the freedom-loving people of Romania and of the United States.
God bless you.