Remarks by Undersecretary for Political Affairs David Hale

Remarks to the Press
Thursday, January 10, 2019 7:30 pm
Handel Room, Hilton Athenee Hotel, Bucharest

I am delighted to be back in Romania. It was a little over 20 years ago, when I visited Romania with then-President Clinton, when he announced our Strategic Partnership, a strong partnership that continues today.

I am here again on a historic occasion, as Romania assumes the leadership of the Council of the European Union.

For the past two days, I have been visiting Romania for talks with EU political directors in Cluj and for bilateral discussions here in Bucharest.

Romania has an impressive strategic vision for its presidency of the Council of the European Union. Romania will assume a leadership role in intra-EU deliberations on important issues such as energy security and increased defense cooperation.

These issues are important to the United States, too, and I had a productive exchange of views with counterparts from throughout the EU.

Today in Bucharest, I had an opportunity to consult with President Klaus Iohannis and his Senior Foreign Policy Adviser, Bogdan Aurescu. I also met with Vice Prime Minister Ana Birchall.

We talked about the extensive cooperation that America and Romania have in so many areas, particularly security and defense, energy, and trade.

We discussed new ideas to strengthen the U.S.-Romanian Strategic Partnership, which we both value.

I thanked Romanian leaders for their commitment to bearing Romania’s share of responsibilities in NATO, including spending 2% of GDP on defense.

Romania’s leadership is playing a significant role in encouraging other NATO members to do the right thing and increase their contributions as well.

Even before joining NATO in 2004, Romania was an excellent partner, hosting exercises and assisting us in combatting terrorism.

We are proud to serve side-by-side with Romanian soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. We value Romania’s contributions to regional and global security.

Our Strategic Partnership maintains our strong commitment to work together to strengthen security and defense cooperation throughout the Black Sea region and beyond.

On other security fronts, Romania has been a reliable and steadfast partner, cooperating on issues such as trans-national and cyber crime, and other areas, which directly contribute to improved security for Romania, Europe, and the United States.

I expressed to President Iohannis, Vice Prime Minister Birchall and Mr. Aurescu our concerns over recent developments in Romania related to the rule of law and over the fiscal policies passed in December, which could have a negative impact on the economy and investment climate.

We continue to urge officials to reject any proposals for amnesty or any other measures that would endanger the tremendous progress made during the past 30 years toward greater security, prosperity and democracy.

Such actions potentially undermine law enforcement cooperation, erode Romania’s judicial and democratic institutions, and provide an avenue for malign actors such as Russia to gain strategic influence in Romania.

So, I have had a good chance to have these valuable conversations.

I greatly appreciate the hospitality of President Iohannis, Vice Prime Minister Ana Birchall and Mr. Aurescu in welcoming me to Romania. I thank Hans Klemm, our Ambassador, and his whole team here in Bucharest for the outstanding job that they are doing.

I am happy to be in Romania again and I hope to be back soon.