U.S. Ambassador Kavalec’s Visit Highlights Active Engagement with Transylvania region in Northwestern Romania

May 24, 2023

U.S. Ambassador Kathleen Kavalec travelled from May 23-24 to Cluj-Napoca and surrounding areas to highlight the extent of U.S. engagement with Cluj County.

On May 23, Ambassador Kavalec met with Emil Boc, a former Romanian prime minister and current mayor, to discuss cooperation opportunities and the growing economic relationship between the United States and Cluj-Napoca, an innovative IT hub and economic powerhouse. The Ambassador visited Ukraine House, where she applauded the work of Romania’s Institute for Peace (PATRIR) in partnership with UNHCR in providing displaced Ukrainians with an inviting environment to receive psychological counseling, language training and legal assistance. Ambassador Kavalec also toured Babes-Bolyai University’s iLab Business Incubator, which is run by Fulbright-RAF Fellow Catalina Crisan, and plays an important role in nurturing entrepreneurship and innovation in Cluj County.

Ambassador Kavalec discussed Romanian energy needs and small nuclear reactor (SMR) technology with Teofil Muresan, CEO of E-Infra, partner of Nuclearelectrica and NuScale, who together will be launching the first SMR power plant in Romania to enhance the country’s energy security. The Ambassador then met with students, staff, and visitors at American Corner Cluj-Napoca, one of ten across the country that provides learning opportunities and programming to inform and educate communities and strengthen U.S. Romanian people-to-people ties. Ambassador Kavalec commended American Corner Cluj-Napoca staff for standing up the Ukrainian Hub, which provides Romanian language classes to displaced Ukrainians resident in the city.

In the evening, Ambassador Kavalec launched the We The People photographic exhibit celebrating over 25 years of the U.S.-Romania Strategic Partnership at the Museum of Art at Banffy Palace. A flagship cultural diplomacy project of the U.S. Embassy in partnership with the Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Press Agency Agerpres, and the University of Craiova, the traveling exhibit is a thematic photo display which captures the human element that is critical to our successful bilateral relationship and forms the bridges of understanding and cooperation between our nations through a selection of 150 memorable photographs; to date, it has traveled through Craiova, Timisoara, Bucharest, Sibiu, and Iasi. Ambassador Kavalec captured the spirit of the display by saying, “The exhibit we 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.” Cluj-Napoca Mayor Emil Boc, Cluj County Council Vice President Istvan Vakar, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Head of the Diplomatic Archives Doru Gheorghe Liciu, and National Press Agency Agerpres Director General Claudia Nicolae also delivered remarks at the reception.

On May 24, Ambassador Kavalec toured Romania’s 71st Air Force Base located near the city of Campia Turzii in Cluj County, where the United States and Romania keep watch around the clock to reassure Allies that our commitments to Article 5 and NATO’s Eastern Flank are sacrosanct. Ambassador Kavalec was accompanied by 71st Air Base Commander Calin Hulea, Air Base Chief of Staff Captain Florin Sandu, and Head of the Host Mission Support Department Major Cosmin Tanase. The Ambassador spent the rest of her afternoon touring Romania’s renowned Salina Turda salt mine and visiting the Ratiu Democracy Center, where she learned about the latter’s work on promoting democracy-related values through local initiatives targeting youth—Romania’s future generations.