Good afternoon and thank you for joining us for the Bucharest unveiling of We The People, and helping us honor the twenty five years of Strategic Partnership it celebrates.
I could not be more proud of this exhibition and the friendship, partnership, and progress it represents. Nor could I be more pleased to share it with you all… President Constantinescu, we are honored that you have joined us.
Today we celebrate a watershed moment in our shared history. It was 25 years ago when President Clinton stood in Piata Universitatii and proclaimed, “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 added, “Stay the course, the future is yours.” He was right, and so was President Constantinescu when he stated, “We have laid this bridge built by human beings across an ocean which God has set between you and us. It is a bridge of common values.” It is these common values we honor today, and in these dark times, we are reminded again of the importance of sharing them.
These two leaders could not have foreseen what this region would face twenty-five years in the future, but they clearly understood the timeless benefits of democracy and Alliance…and together they created the U.S.-Romania Strategic Partnership. The benefits this quarter century of Partnership have brought belong to every single one of us…American, Romanian, Ally and friend alike.
The architect of the Strategic Partnership, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, flawlessly captured its principles when she stated that “[It] would be based on U.S. recognition of Romania’s strategic importance, the commitment to shared values, and a common interest in stability and democratic progress.” Romania was true to its word and fulfilled its obligations to move forward democratically for the benefit of its people. The United States, likewise, kept its promises to support our friend and Ally and we have not wavered in our commitments to increased mutual prosperity, shared security, and an openness to cultural and academic exchange.
Together, we have worked tirelessly to realize Secretary Albright’s vision of a free, unified, and prosperous Europe. And every picture in this exhibition speaks to our accomplishments. We pledged to shared security—and Romania in 2022 is a stalwart and essential NATO Ally. We have stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the world’s most dangerous places. We have cheered Romania as it has moved from a recipient nation to an exporter of peace and security.
We pledged to pursue mutual prosperity back in 1997 when the United States imported $400 million in Romanian goods and exported $258 million in American goods. These numbers have grown significantly due to our partnership. They now stand at $3 billion in Romanian imports and $1.4 billion in American exports. This is in addition to the nearly 8,000 firms operating in Romania supported by American investors and approximately $4 billion in U.S. foreign direct investment in Romania—a number which will only increase as this nation moves toward ever stronger transparency and rule of law.
Likewise, our bilateral pledge to ever-more open academic and cultural cooperation has flourished. From Fulbright to our FLEX high school-student visitors, yearly we set new benchmarks in exchanges, research, and cooperation. Our university doors are open and each year approximately 1,000 Romanian university students enroll in America’s premier institutions of higher education. It commendable that Romania boasts the second highest number in the world, well over 5,000 annually, of young people visiting the United States in our Summer Work and Travel Program.
Our exhibit—and again I encourage you to venture over to Piata Universitatii to see it—is a thematic photo essay that invites one to celebrate and explore the relationship between our two countries and peoples. As I mentioned, this story belongs to every one of us. We designed this exhibit to be open and accessible to everyone. The photographs capture the interactions between us silently, and yet they simultaneously speak volumes about friendship and collaboration, and what good friends and partners can accomplish working together.
Let me conclude by noting that the title of the exhibition, “We the People,” comes from the preamble of our venerated U.S. Constitution. We chose this title to honor the element that makes it all possible…the human element. Nations, like peoples, share with their Allies and friends. They share ideas, responsibilities, and their best ideas. The bedrock of common values between our countries has made dialogue and development all the easier – and it is our Strategic Partnership that helps carry it all forward.
Thank you for being here and thank you for making our partnership a success.