On the occasion of the National Day of Romania, Ambassador Mihai Ciompec of Romania in Seoul and Mrs. Flavia-Athena Kloos hosted a reception at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul on Nov. 29, 2017.
Many important guests attended from various quarters of Korean society, who included Deputy Minister Noh Kyu-duk of Foreign Affairs and many members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps (SDC) and various segments of Korean society. Attending the attention from the SDC, were a large number of foreign mission chiefs, who included Ambassadors Jaime Antonio Pomareda of Peru, Gonzalo Ortiz Diaz-Tortosa of Spain, Myrat Mammetalyyev of Turkmenistan, Tito Saul Pinilla Pinilla of Colombia, and Sylvestre Kouassi Bile of Cote d'Ivoire.
Among the Korean guests in attendance, besides Deputy Minister Noh, were Korean Honorary Consul Charles C.S. Hwang of Commonwealth of Dominica, Chairman Mrs. Park Kyung-seo of Korean Red Cross, CEO David Kang of Concordia International University.
Speaking to the guests, Ambassador Cimpec said: “We consider that through people to people contacts, culture, sports we can create stronger bonds, which will ensure a continuous development of our ties. And speaking of sports, Romanian teams will take part in the Pyeongchang Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in February-March next year.” See excerpts from his speech:
Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Ciompec:
I am honored and at the same time delighted to welcome you all and to extend to you my sincere gratitude for joining us tonight in the celebration of Romania’s National Day. I am proud to see so many friends of our country being here with us this evening.
I would like to emphasize on this wonderful occasion that the National Day of Romania (the 1st of December) signifies the fulfillment of the fight for freedom, unity and national dignity of several generations. The historic event of the Great Union, which was accomplished in 1918, is celebrated worldwide by all Romanians as a symbol of the act of will of the Romanian people.
This year’s celebration precedes next year’s anniversary of the Centennial of the Great Union and 140 years since the consecration of Romania’s Independence. Considering these historical landmarks of Romanian history, 2018 will also be a year of promoting our country and its culture as much as possible in other countries. In this vein, we intend to present a wide range of cultural and public diplomacy events, that will help the Korean people know more about Romania and better understand our traditions and mentalities. Building upon this year’s successes of the Romanian theaters, dancers and singers in ROK, we will try to increase the presence of Romanian art in ROK, especially by bringing here prominent artists, who will perform for the Korean public, not only in Seoul, but also in some other cities of ROK.
We consider that through people to people contacts, culture, sports we can create stronger bonds, which will ensure a continuous development of our ties. And speaking of Sports – Romanian teams will take part in the Pyeongchang Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in February-March next year.
In the present international context, characterized by assymetric threats and the vulnerability to multidimensional risks, Centennial Romania is a promoter of peace, justice, and long term development. Romania has proven its role as a defender of human rights, the rule of law, democratic values, multilateralism through its contributions to the UN, EU, OSCE, Council of Europe, and regionally - as an anchor of stability in the Western Balkans and the proximity of the Black Sea. The attachment to multilateralism motivated us to submit our candidature for a seat as non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the mandate 2020-2021.
And looking a bit further, on mid term perspective, I am pleased to underline that, during the first semester of 2019, Romania will exercise for the first time the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. We are already intensely preparing for that, as we will then have the responsibility of making decisions that have an impact on the entire European community. It will not be an easy mandate considering the challenges, but we are confident that Romania's Presidency of the EU Council will be the continuation of the success story of our country in the European project.
Let me briefly present a few important elements that define the framework of our relationship with the Republic of Korea.
As you may be aware, there is a strong and vibrant relation between Romania and the Republic of Korea. I have to underline that almost ten years ago, our bilateral relations have been upgraded to the level of a Strategic Partnership. And I may add that the Republic of Korea is our only Strategic Partner in Asia so far.
This year we witnessed with satisfaction a new dynamic of the political dialogue between Romania and the Republic of Korea. It started with the official visit to Romania of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Korea, which was the first of its kind after 15 years. An important Romanian governmental delegation consisting of four State Secretaries – the equivalent of vice-ministers – from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Finance and the Romanian Fair Trade Council paid a working visit to ROK in July. Several multilateral meetings (e.g. ASEM) hosted by Seoul were attended by high ranking Romanian officials: the Minister for Business Environment, Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ASEM7 meeting of the Economy Ministers), the Minister for Youth and Sports (The World Anti-Doping Agency’s Foundation Board Meeting), the State Secretary from the Ministry of Labour (the ASEM Conference on Global Ageing), the State Secretary from the Ministry of Education and the President of the Romanian Council of Rectors (the 6th ASEM Education Ministers’ Meeting). This last event has a special importance because Romania hosted, in October, the third meeting of the ASEM Working Group on Innovative Competences and Entrepreneurship Education, coordinated by the Republic of Korea and, more importantly, will host in May 2019 the 7th ASEM Education Ministers’ Meeting (ASEM ME7).
The trade exchanges between Romania and ROK have reached the level of 1 billion USD, which was kept constant during the last couple of years. According to KITA statistics, during the first nine months of the current year, Romanian exports to ROK have surpassed the imports, a trend which I hope will be maintained until the end of the year.
From the point of view of the bilateral investments, according to the National Romanian Trade Register, 245 companies with Korean participation of capital were registered in Romania, with a share capital of 235.3 million USD, invested directly. Korea was ranked 25th place among the foreign investors in my country, with 0.40% of the total foreign investments.
Major companies such as Doosan, Samsung, GMB, Hyosung have already entered the market, but the real potential of the Korean investors is far from being fully expressed. I would like to stress that recent developments have increased Romania’s attractiveness for foreign investments due to the remarkable impetus of its economy. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has marked up from 4.2 percent to 5.5 percent its growth estimates for the Romanian economy this year. The IMF also improved its forecast for the pace of growth of Romania's economy in 2018 to 4.4 percent as against the 3.4-percent forecast released in April. According to the world economic outlook document, Romania will record this year's largest economic growth in Europe (5.5 percent).
So, I am confident that these arguments will determine more Korean companies to be active in Romania. Nevertheless, we need your support, Dear Mr. Deputy Minister, to spread the message that Romania is a place with opportunities worth exploring. And of course I will take the opportunity to encourage business associations and companies that are represented here today to get more involved in further developing our economic relations.
Even though the cooperation in trade and investments has a special importance, we must not forget that there are also other fields which can add value to our relations. We hope to finalize soon an Agreement in the Cultural and Educational field. This is a useful tool to increase bonds between the young people of our countries and to open up for them new horizons of knowledge, thus forging a new cultural Strategic Partnership through the next generations. In this respect, we are proud that the Romanian Language Department from the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies is a successful promoter of the Romanian cultural values and a genuine conveyer of the Romanian language in ROK.
I consider, in this vein, that these gifted young people who choose to study the Romanian language, respectively Romanians learning the Korean language are a marvellous added value to the friendship between Romania and the Republic of Korea. The future of our relations lies in their hands but we have the responsibility to ensure that they benefit from all opportunities to learn and develop as culturally rich global citizens.
I was glad to notice an increase of the Romanian cultural presence in ROK this year. The Romanian artistic offer for the Korean public was varied: from theatre (the National Theater from Cluj Napoca) to sculpture (the 4th Romanian-Korean intercultural exhibition at the Arts Museul in Boryeong), from folklore ensembles (from Cluj-Napoca) to architecture (attendance of the Romanian architects to the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism). And probably topping all of this - the recent tour in ROK (this month) of the most prominent soprano, Angela Gheorghiu.
Romania will remain a reliable and determined partner for the Republic of Korea. Our shared commitment to democratic values forms the bedrock of our close Strategic Partnership. I look forward to working with all of you to further strengthen our bonds over the coming years.