Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden and Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta in a Joint Press Statement
1:10 P.M. (Local)
PRIME MINISTER PONTA: (As interpreted) Good day.
We are very glad and honored to have the visit of Mr. Vice President Joe Biden here in Bucharest and at the headquarters of our government.
We are very happy to see you once again after the gathering that happened in October last year in Washington. At that time, Vice President Biden said that he will come back to Romania, and as always he kept his word, and we’d like to thank him for that.
But I believe that his visit here is at the most necessary and right time for Romania, a moment when we have to reaffirm the idea of a strategic partnership that is stable and of long term between the United States of America and Romania, and the importance and confidence that the United States grant to the entire region and all of our partners and allies from the area, and also a special feeling towards the Romanian people that it’s not just our desire to have this strategic partnership, but also the United States considers Romania to be a trustworthy partner and a respected partner.
So this is the most important formula, and the presence of Vice President Biden in Bucharest is confirming this fundamental idea. I want to restate once again in the name of Romania our total commitment to meet the requirements in our role that we play as a country at the border of NATO and the European Union, of the democratic world which is at this time confronted with a crisis situation that is unprecedented in the past 25 years, the aggression on behalf of the Russian Federation, breaching the international norms, the illegal annexing of Romania [sic]. These are challenges that this region has not seen in a long time.
And furthermore the presence of Vice President Biden here is a strong message for Romania, but also a strong message for the other countries in the region, first of all for Moldova, the country for which Romania has a lot of good feelings, but also for Ukraine, for Georgia and all the others that have decided to take the route of democracy, the route of reforms, and abiding the international law.
I had discussions with Vice President Biden for the decision of the Romanian government to assume all the positions that involve our situation right now. The security can never be obtained free. The investments that the Romanian government has to increase and has already increased regarding the defense system -- and I can tell you that we have an agreement and a political consensus in that -- for that point in the sense that for a short time period up until 2016, Romania will start allocating 2 percent of the GDP for defense expenditures. And also the investment that Romania has made in -- from budgetary resources and EU financing and private financing in order to develop a strategic concept and specifically energy independence.
Romania is investing quite a lot. It is open for investments so that it -- Romania itself can ensure for itself and for the Moldovan Republic an energy independence that is even more important in the current crisis conditions, an independence that will allow us to ensure to the Romanian and Moldovan population, to the economy of both countries that Russia will never be able to impede the normal functioning of these countries by using its energy supply.
The Romanian GDP increase, and I was happy to inform Vice President Biden of the situation that right now Romania is the economy that has the most rapid growth in the European Union. This also grants the guarantee that we can be strong, that we can meet the tasks that we all have to meet here at the border of the NATO and EU, and we have an economic development later on that is even better.
In our discussion in October when I discussed with the state Secretary for Commerce, we had discussed an action plan that the Romanian government has already concluded, and it is implementing at this time in order to increase the investments of U.S. companies in encouraging commerce, in encouraging economic development and the collaboration between the two nations.
Furthermore than the bilateral collaboration, Romania is a very determined supporter of concluding the agreement that is known as T-TIP, the trade commerce agreement between the United States and the European Union. We believe that at this time in the common trading area where we also have economic collaboration and democratic similar ideas can make us stronger in front of any challenges.
I would like to say in my conclusion that Romania must and can be an example of success in this region, an example of security -- military security, of political collaboration with the United States, of economic development, and of the economic and the democratic functioning of its institutions. We have reaffirmed the government’s support for an independent justice system, an impartial justice system, an efficient justice system that will be able to apply truly that important principle of the fact that no one is above the law. And whoever breaks the law no matter what his position is must answer in front of the court.
I would like to mention at this point that we have talked quite a lot about the Moldovan state. Every time we have the opportunity to meet, I keep telling Mr. Vice President how important Moldova is for Romania, how important it is to support the United States, the European Union for this pro-European and pro-Romanian development of the Moldovan Republic. And I want to thank for the support that the Washington administration is providing in an explicit manner, and they have assumed the fact that Romania and the Romanian people will be the beneficiary of what many other European citizens have, which is the visa waiver system. All of the Romanians that go into the United States are contributing to what means the United States as a whole.
And I would like to say in my closing that I assured Vice President Biden that also in this year and the following years Romania will be for the United States a reliable and respected partner.
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: (In progress) hospitality, Mr. Prime Minister. It’s good to see you again. I appreciate your dedication to the U.S.-Romanian relationship, and I’ve enjoyed our chances to talk together both in Washington and here.
The first thing the Prime Minister and I spoke about today was cooperation, security cooperation between the United States and Romania. I reiterated to the Prime Minister what he already knew that -- America’s unwavering commitment to collective self-defense and Article 5. We expect all nations to honor their NATO commitments. We will honor ours. And there should be no doubt about that on anyone’s mind.
We also spoke at some length about energy security and how national security and energy security come together in this part of the world in the need to ensure that Russia can no longer continue to use its energy resources and European dependence on those resources as a weapon -- a weapon against anyone in this region.
And that's why I believe that the development of a secure, diverse and interconnected energy market in Europe is the next big step for our European colleagues to initiate in a great project of European economic integration.
We are -- where our help is welcome, we are ready to provide help, and we have some little, unique expertise in this area if it is desired.
And Romania can and should be a significant part of a European energy solution. By upgrading Romania’s infrastructure, Romania can be a lynchpin that holds together the energy markets from the Black Sea to Central and Eastern Europe. And by expanding domestic production of natural gas, Romania can emerge as an alternative supplier for its neighbors.
And by extending the Romanian pipeline network, Romania can be part of the energy solution for Moldova, a country that is now overwhelmingly almost 100 percent reliant on Russian energy.
Our countries stand together in supporting Moldova’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, its democratic development and its European aspirations.
The Prime Minister and I also spoke about steps we are taking to grow and deepen the economic partnership, including the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that we’re in the process of negotiating. Not only will it strengthen the vibrant economies of Europe and the United States and strengthen them all, but it also will set down new rules of the road that are necessary for the conduct to trade and commerce in the 21st century.
And as I discussed with the President and the Prime Minister, there is no more important step Romania can take than to attract jobs and investment that can continue to help it grow but continue in the process to strengthen the rule of law in order to allow that to continue.
When other countries exploit corruption to undermine their neighbor’s sovereignty and independence, this is not only a matter of economic opportunity, but national security. But it’s also a matter of economic competitiveness. Where the rule of law is strong, where courts adjudicate disputes and in a transparently fair way, where the rules of the marketplace are predictable, this is where companies around the world invest. This is where they make their homes.
I was encouraged by the Prime Minister’s agreement last October to take concrete steps to improve Romania’s business climate. Of course, the follow-through is essential. But it’s underway. I applaud you, Mr. Prime Minister, for taking this initiative on such an important issue.
Romania to state the obvious is already a terrific ally, partner and friend. And our future together is bright. It’s no longer a matter of what it was a decade or more ago about what the United States can do for Romania. It’s about what we can do together to strengthen each of our countries.
So, Mr. President [sic], thank you for your commitment to continue to strengthen this relationship, for your work to make our futures even brighter and may God bless the Romanian people. May God bless America and may God protect our troops -- Romanian and American -- who are still deployed in Afghanistan.
Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister.
1:23 P.M. (Local)