Ambassador Kathleen Kavalec at Microsoft Envision 2023

March 29th, 2023, 09:30 AM
Palace of Parliament

Good morning everyone—
Minister Burduja,
Members of the Microsoft team,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here. I want to thank Microsoft for the invitation and the warm welcome. As we have been discussing already, this is an opportunity where we can work together and strengthen not only digitalization in the country, but the U.S.-Romania relationship on technology and innovation. This event today clearly speaks to the importance of these issues in our ever evolving and complex global environment.

The strength of the ICT sector in Romania and the presence of multiple U.S. IT companies here play a vital role in our bilateral story — for our two countries, our citizens, and for Europe.

Romania’s leadership has made it clear what they wish to do—and you heard just now about this—particularly in terms of commerce—and we could not be more pleased to support this effort. Romania’s leaders rightly see Romania as a prime market for American products and a Central European hub for U.S. multinationals. They want to attract U.S. investment in high-tech sectors and wish to see increased exports to the United States, as do we.

All of us, Romanians, and Americans, as well as Allies and friends, stand to benefit from an economically strong Romania that continues to fulfill its obligations and to contribute to global security.

With Romania’s deeply talented workforce — including droves of well-qualified ICT specialists who are not just working here, but we heard are also working abroad and maybe changing languages in other companies — this nation is full of economic dynamism and potential. A pillar of our Strategic Partnership is fostering mutual economic prosperity, and we know we could not seek a better partner in this effort.

Romania is moving forward. The Romanian Government has made promising investments in emerging technology, including a new AI hub, a hydrogen research center, and the world’s most powerful laser.

As these and other emerging technologies become more integrated into business models it is critical that partner governments work together to ensure and protect safety and innovation. We hope to build on our previous collaborations to accelerate these advances and see Romania rightfully positioned at the leading edge of technological change and innovation.

Accelerating digitization and a tech-driven economy are sure to serve as tremendous drivers in spurring Romania’s economic growth. Partnerships between the private sector and the Romanian government hold tremendous promise in spurring this forward and we have just heard some of the reasons of why that would be.

As this government advances its digitalization agenda, we encourage robust private consultation, which is happening even here today. This partnership must be based on a backdrop of transparency, accountability, and stability. As countless other examples around the world have shown, digitalization holds the potential to transform the state to the great benefit of all Romanians.

Several leading U.S. IT companies—including of course Microsoft—have the expertise and resources essential to enhancing this country’s delivery of government services while also strengthening its competitive advantage as a European innovation hub.

Greater digitalization will not only improve public administration, but also healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture, and nearly every institution and corner of the economic sector and Romanian life.

While the promises of our bilateral partnership and the collaboration of the private and public sectors bear incredible promise, we should keep in mind that such strong relationships serve to build resilience and better protect us and our societies.

Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has been accompanied by relentless cyberattacks on Romania and other regional Allies. It has underscored the need for international unity in promoting cybersecurity, and for protecting cyberspace.

U.S. foreign policy on this issue is clear: together with our international partners we will promote responsible state behavior in cyberspace. We must stand together on this. When we stand together, we raise the cost to malign cyber actors. Robust cybersecurity can no longer be the sole domain of technical experts—it requires a whole-of-government effort and active collaboration with the private sector.

These challenges that we face today are significant, but I am confident that the future is bright for both our nations and for greater U.S. investment in Romania. As U.S. Ambassador, I will continue to work to strengthen our Strategic Partnership so that we can better face and overcome shared challenges and deepen our cooperation across numerous sectors. Returning to Romania after 15 years, I see tremendous change, tremendous improvements, but I also see the potential for even greater progress, and I think digitalization will be a big part of that.

Thank you very much for having me here today. Vă mulţumesc tuturor.