By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with Reporters Youngwoong Lee, Jessica Park
Ambassador Mihai Ciompec of Romania in Seoul said, “Trade exchanges between Romania and Korea has kept constant and balanced level during the last couple of years (around one billion U.S. dollars), and there still is a lot of improvement potential in this field.”
Speaking at a celebration reception, he and Mrs. Ciompeck hosted at Lotte Hotel in Seoul on Nov. 28, 2018, Ambassador Cimpec added, “There is no doubt that this area needs more efficient measures in order to match the dynamism registered in the political, economic and various other areas of bilateral relations.” (See excerpts from his speech at the end of this report.)
The reception on that evening was very well attended and there were many distinguished Korean and international guests, as well as ambassadors accompanied by madams and other senior members of the 115 different countries in Korea.
Among the guests in attendance were Deputy Minister Yoo Dae-jong of Planning, Coordination CEO Yoon Jeong-ah of Ilancy company and Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media.
There also were many ambassadors and other senior diplomats, who included Ambassadors Mohamed Salim Al Harthy of Oman (dean of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps), Chafik Rachadi of Morocco, Ramzi Teymurov of Azerbaijan, Daul Matute-Mejia of Peru, Abida Islam of Bangladesh, Long Dimanche of Cambodia, and Myrat Mammetalyyev of Turkmenistan.
Romania, which is located in the Balkans which connects Europe, Russia and Turkey, has a territory of 1.1 times larger than the Korean peninsula (238,391 ㎢) and a population of 20 million with a remarkable economic growth in the past few years.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Korea, Romania is a major transportation and logistics point in the Central and Eastern Europe, being channeled by the Black Sea and the Danube water transport. It has been called the “European bread factory”, boasting a vast farmland, rich workforce including IT experts, abundant resources - oil and natural gas. Since its accession to the EU in 2007, Romania has emerged as a central hub to bridge the EU market and a new investment base in Central and Southern Europe.
Korea and Romania established diplomatic relations in March 1990 and encouraged their friendly and cooperative bilateral relations after the setting up of the Korean Embassy in Bucharest in June the same year. The Strategic Partnership between the two countries was signed in September 2008, followed by the Strategic Partnership Action Plan promoting liberal democracy, market economy, and further witnessing a constant development in the political, economic, cultural, educational and other areas.
The trade volume between Korea and Romania has been steadily increasing, reaching 1.1 billion dollars in 2016, while Korean companies continue to invest heavily in Romania. In particular, compared to 1990 of 18.6 million dollars, in 2016 the trade between the two countries grew sixty times. The economic and trade bilateral relations may continue to expand under certain synergies based on the Romanian high growth potential, complementary economic structures and the IT strength that both countries possess. Since the Romanian accession to the EU in 2007, the accelerated economic reform, the expansion of infrastructure facilities along with the improvement in laws and policies, and the effect of the EU-Korea FTA in 2011 are expected to further promote Korean companies’ entry to Romania, the gateway to Central and Eastern Europe.
Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Ciompec of Romani in Seoul:
Your Excellency Deputy Minister for Planning and Coordination Yoo Dae-jong, Esteemed members of the National Assembly and mayors,
Dear colleagues, ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps,
Honorable representatives of Korean business, trade, universities, cultural organizations and press, Dear members of the Romanian community, Dragi compatrioți români, Distinguished Guests, 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 for a truly special anniversary of Romania’s National Day as we celebrate the Centennial of the Great Union. I am convinced that our Korean friends can very well understand the outstanding importance of such a major historic event and I wish to express my confidence that, when the time will be ripe, a similar process may happen on the peaceful Korean Peninsula.
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. In the “annus mirabilis 1918”, at the end of the bloodiest war history had ever known, Romanians fulfilled their most cherished political ideal – the unification of all provinces where they held majority: Transylvania, Banat, Crișana, Maramureș, Bessarabia, and Bukovina – with the old Kingdom of Romania, in one democratic, national state. This unique moment in the national history is, I think, rightfully, considered by some of the historians as “the astral time of the Romanians”.
The historical process that was concluded in 1918 was extremely complicated and difficult. Located in a sensitive region, in which the interests of the most important international actors clashed, divided by the adverse times in several political and territorial formations, much like other nations in Central and Eastern Europe, the Romanians aimed at fulfilling their unity since the early modern age and especially in the 19th century, which was also called the “nationalities’ century”. The Great Union of 1918 crowned the centuries’ long aspirations of the Romanians to live in a single state. This ideal was vividly embraced generation after generation and represented a binder and a coordinate of the Romanians and their development in the 19th and 20th century.
Under these considerations I would like to emphasize two ideas:
1. At the end of the First World War (whose Armistice we celebrated recently at the War Memorial in Seoul, together with some of the ambassadors present here this evening) the Romanians who were still under the domination of two crumbling empires – The Tzarist one and the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy – expressed, by virtue of their right to self-determination, their free will to be united with the Kingdom of Romania. The National Unity was, therefore achieved not by military conquest, but according to the will of the Romanians from Transylvania, Bessarabia, Bucovina and Banat, freely expressed within representative democratic structures. The Peace Treaties of 1919-1920 (from Versailles, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Trianon, Neuilly-sur-Seine) gave Great Romania its international recognition and legitimacy.
2. The second important element I want to highlight is the fact that United Romania was, from the very beginning, one of the most democratic states, in accordance with the highest existing democratic standards of that period, which conferred the widest range of rights to all national minorities, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or social status. And this modern democratic Romania proved its solid commitment towards democracy not only when it became one of the founding members of the League of Nations in 1920, but throughout the whole inter-war period, when it tried to stop the accelerated erosion of the democratic regimes in Europe.
The relation between Romania and the Republic of Korea is strong and dynamic. Ten years ago, our bilateral relations have been upgraded to the level of a Strategic Partnership. Last week, we celebrated this tenth anniversary in Seoul, by opening at MOFA, in the presence of the Korean and Romanian ministers of Foreign Affairs, an exhibition of documents and photos. 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 continuity of the new dynamic of the political dialogue between Romania and the Republic of Korea. On October 10th -13th HE Mr. Moon Heesang, the Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, paid an official visit to Romania, which represented a new impetus and added value for the further development of the existing ties between our two Parliaments. The 9th round of consultations between the Romanian and South Korean Ministries of Foreign Affairs, at the director general level, held in Seoul in October, paved the way for the official visit to the Republic of Korea of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania, HE Mr. Teodor Melescanu, who was accompanied by the Minister for Business Environment, Trade and Entrepreneurship, HE Mr. Stefan-Radu Oprea. The wide range of topics tackled during the official discussions with HE Ms. Kang Kyung-wha, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, as well as with HE Mr. Lee Nak Yeon, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea, was a genuine expression of the substantialized high level political dialogue which exists between the two countries.
During the official talks, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania underlined Romania’s consistent support for the cause of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and for the leading role of HE Mr. Moon Jae-in, the President of the Republic of Korea, in the ongoing diplomatic process of reconciliation and peace building.
The trade exchanges between Romania and ROK kept constant and balanced level during the last couple of years (around 1 billion $). But there is a lot of improvement potential in this field. There is no doubt that this area needs more efficient measures in order to match the dynamism registered in the political bilateral relations.
Romania was the fastest-growing country in the region in 2017 with a GDP growth rate of 7 percent. This year, Romania’s economic boom is set to slightly slow down, but will continue to remain robust, around 5%. There are also other positive signs: unemployment in Romania fell to a new historical low of 4.3% in 2018 and is set to stay at a similar level on short term. Our country has evolved into a technologically modern economy, which makes it attractive for investments, also thanks to factors like the country’s EU membership, its favorable location, its skilled workforce, its friendly business climate, or the fact that it is a gateway to the European single market with 500 million consumers (one of the largest in the world).
We hope such arguments will determine more Korean companies to be active in Romania. So 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.
In this vein, in 2018, the year of the Centennial, the Embassy has tried its best to increase the promotion of our country and its culture as much as possible in the Republic of Korea. We introduced to the Korean public a wide range of cultural and public diplomacy events, with the purpose to help the Korean people know more about Romania and better understand our traditions and mentalities. One of the most important cultural events (and I avail myself of this opportunity to renew the invitation addressed to you to attend) is the Jazz Concert “100 years in 100 minutes”, which will be performed tomorrow, by the Adrian Naidin Quartet.
Building upon the success of this year’s cultural events we will try to increase the presence of Romanian artists in ROK, especially by bringing here prominent artists, who will perform for the Korean public, hopefully not only in Seoul. All these cultural projects have as a main goal to raise the awareness of the Korean public and constitute a proper preface to 2021 when Timisoara – one of the most cross cultural Romanian cities – will be the European Capital of Culture. In short, we consider that, through people to people contacts, culture, sports, we can create stronger bonds, which will ensure a continuous development of our overall ties.
In the present international context, characterized by assimetric threats and the vulnerability to multidimensional risks, Centennial Romania is a promoter of peace, justice and long term development.
Just a few weeks from now, on January 1st 2019, Romania will start its first Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Our mandate will be exercised in a complex European and international context. It has to take into account the current large –scale processes that will reshape the European Union, such as the reflection on the future of the European Union, the Brexit process and many others. At the same time, challenges appear to be increasingly significant, given the relatively high degree of global instability. They require the Union to assume a more important role internationally, in line with its Global Strategy, that will be further implemented.
The priorities of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU are correlated with the legislative agenda of the European Union, in order to ensure their implementation at the European level.
The working agenda will focus on four main pillars:
1. Ensuring a fair and sustainable development for all member states, through an increased level of convergence, cohesion, innovation, digitization and connectivity.
2. Maintaining a safe Europe
3. Strengthening the global role of the EU
4. Promoting the Europe of shared values
Romania will firmly support the efforts towards the objective of a more democratic Union, that ensures the equal treatment that all Member States and all European citizens aspire to, with a decision-making process that gets closer to the citizens. To quote a sentence from a recent speech, on the future of the EU, delivered in the European Parliament, by the President of Romania, HE Klaus Iohannis: “We need an inclusive Union that leaves behind no state and no citizen.”
In exercising its mandate, Romania will seek to ensure an effective presidency by assuming the role of an impartial mediator and a consensus facilitator in the fulfillment of the tasks related to the presidency of the Council and the advancement of the European agenda:
Romania will act as an active and constructive partner, having as a premise a unitary, transparent, inclusive approach, aiming at further consolidating the European project.
Distinguished guests, Dear Korean friends,
Romania will remain a reliable and determined Strategic 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.
In closing, I would like to thank everyone once again for coming and invite you all to fully enjoy the celebration of Romania’s Centennial!