Ambassador Kathleen Kavalec at the We The People Exhibit Opening in Cluj-Napoca

May 23, 2023

State Secretary Baciuna
Mayor Boc
Vice President of Cluj County Council István Vákár
Counsellor Liciu
Director General Claudia Nicolae
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you all for being here with us this evening. We are honored to have you join us for the Cluj opening of this exhibit—We The People. This important exhibit celebrates the strong relationship between the United States and Romania, and the unshakable bonds of friendship between us.

Tonight, we mark 25 years of our Strategic Partnership between our countries and the progress we have made together in that time. This story belongs to every single one of us—Romanian and American alike.

As you may know, this exhibit has been seen in Bucharest, Craiova, Timisoara, Sibiu, Iași and—beginning today—Cluj. We could not be more pleased to bring this exhibit here today. Thank you for welcoming it to your beautiful city, a city which has, over the years, expanded and strengthened many ties with the United States and its people. This exhibit tells the story of a friendship—a story we have and will continue to share with hundreds of thousands of people around Romania. We are thrilled that Prime Minister Ciuca, Foreign Minister Aurescu, former President Constantinescu, U.S. Secretary of State Blinken, and countless other leaders have also all had the chance to experience it.

Bringing We The People to Cluj is incredibly meaningful to me. In 2006, I had the honor to open our American Corner in Cluj. While serving as Cultural Attaché at the U.S. Embassy, I returned to Cluj many times for various cultural events. The American Corner in Cluj has since become one of our key centers for cultural and educational exchange in Romania. Much has changed since then, both for me and for Cluj. The positive changes I have seen in Romania since my return here earlier this year are remarkable. I have been impressed by Romania’s great economic progress since it joined the EU, but I am even more impressed by its even greater potential. Much of that potential is contained in Romania’s dynamic cities, of which Cluj is a leading example. I understand that Cluj is a city in which government, the private sector and academia collaborate to attract investment and development, with great success.

I am told that, according to Eurostat, in 2022, Cluj had the third-highest GDP growth (at 120 percent), beating even Tallinn and Vilnius. This is exactly the type of progress which we had hoped to support when we established the Strategic Partnership between the United States and Romania.

Nearly twenty six years ago in 2007, President Clinton stood in Bucharest’s Piata Universitatii alongside President Constantinescu and announced the establishment of a Partnership to emphasize the centrality of Romania to a developing Europe that was whole, free and at peace. President Clinton said, “The Romanian people have won the world’s respect for moving so far, so fast, and for believing in yourselves and your future…” and he continued, “Stay the course, the future is yours.” Alongside President Constantinescu, President Clinton saw the deep promise within the Romanian people and in an unbreakable bilateral partnership.

In the 25 years since this watershed moment, Romania has made incredible progress in strengthening its democracy, becoming an exporter of peace and security, and growing its economy for the benefit of all. The nation we all stand in today is a model NATO Ally.

Clearly, these two Presidents could not have foreseen the return of war to Europe—we all hoped we were beyond such horrors—but they well understood the timeless shared values of democracy, Alliance, and partnership.

Romania has been true to its word—it met its pledge to move forward democratically and ever for the benefit of its people. The United States, likewise, fulfilled our promise to support our friend and Ally.

The exhibit we will see today, We the People, is a photo essay that celebrates and explores the diplomatic, security, economic, and cultural relationships between the peoples of Romania and the United States. These pictures tell the story of our cooperation and the blessings of friendship…and what two great nations can accomplish when working together. The title of the exhibition, “We the People,” comes from the preamble of our venerated U.S. Constitution. We use it in celebration of the human element that makes everything we have accomplished possible.

Thank you all for being here and sharing this evening with us.