Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Board of the National Bank of Romania, allow me to welcome you tonight at the National Bank of Romania. It is a privilege to have again with us distinguished guests from the Atlantic Council, active supporters of Central and Eastern European countries on their path towards economic development and political integration in the European Union and the NATO Alliance.
I wish to commend Mr. Teodor Meleșcanu, the Romanian Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Bogdan Aurescu, Advisor to the President of Romania, for their excellent work and commitment to the 3rd Three Seas Initiative Summit in Bucharest, which aims to enhance the European and Transatlantic economic cooperation.
In addition, I would like to welcome Ms. Abby Rupp, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of the United States of America to Romania.
I want to extent a special greeting to the honourable General James L. Jones, acting Chairman of the Atlantic Council. General Jones has been serving his country since 1967 when he was commissioned into the United States Marine Corps. A Georgetown University School of Foreign Service graduate, he rose through the ranks, bringing clear vision and steady leadership to America’s missions abroad. General Jones was commander of US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe and National Security Advisor to President Obama.
As Chairman and co-author of the report “Completing Europe – From the North-South Corridor to Energy, Transportation, and Telecommunications Union”, General James L. Jones is at the forefront of the Three Seas Initiative, as a promoter of collaboration across borders for the security and prosperity in Central and Eastern Europe.
General Jones’ lifelong achievements stand out and reflect the expertise on combat grounds as well as in strategy and defense. Romania joined NATO in 2004 at a time when General Jones was actively involved in developing the new ties with CEE countries.
I fondly remember our first discussion when General Jones suggested the need that infrastructure in Romania should also allow the freedom of movement for military troops and he remarked the seriousness of the current status of our infrastructure. My view is that the historic cause of infrastructure comes from the geographical perspective, Romania being at the crossroads of three major empires, and how the historic provinces developed infrastructure networks differently, each empire focused on its own capital.
I also remember how the United States of America developed its infrastructure under the President Dwight Eisenhower, as a project of significant strategic national importance. For Romania, infrastructure development is not a matter of funding, but rather acts as a catalyst for our nation and a foundation for our national security.
Our first discussion echoes to this day and the problem of infrastructure development reverberates throughout Romania. The new infrastructure is based on digitalization, on broadband communication technologies, high-speed internet, the internet of things and the artificial intelligence. All these come with new risks posed by the hybrid informational warfare, being a question of cyber-security when the information is misused on purpose to manipulate and misinform.
In that context, the Three Seas Initiative is a young yet remarkable regional cooperation, whose goals are to foster strategic domains for development that require dedicated and sustainable long term investments for economic cooperation. For Romania, this means a dedicated effort to improving the infrastructure, to enjoy the energy security and strengthen the international cooperation, and deepen the digital interconnectedness among members. Within this framework, the Atlantic Council stands as a partner for leadership in international cooperation, shaping policies and strategies to shared prosperity.
In 2016, the Dubrovnik Summit opened a new chapter in international and regional cooperation in CEE through dialogue among member countries of The Three Seas Initiative, and in 2017, the Warsaw Summit reaffirmed the commitment of the United States of America for the region as a strategic partner. Now it is Romania’s role to host the 2018 Bucharest Summit, continuing to stimulate the development and cooperation among the 12 member states, together with the strategic partners from the United States of America, Germany and the European Union represented by the President of the European Commission, Mr. Jean Claude Juncker.
The business dimension is essential for the economic development and the National Bank of Romania considers the financial stability component as a key part of the greater political and regional stability.
In our view, the Business Forum will contribute significantly to this stability, by implementing projects aimed towards stimulating the entrepreneurship, the emerging of new business initiatives and the start-up companies.
For the future years, this Business Forum will facilitate the international cooperation, the exchange of ideas and the trans-national projects, turning into a successful entity for policies development leading towards the achievements of sound business practices. The Business Forum will reunite all the key actors for the economic transformation in the strategic fields of cooperation, the infrastructure, the energy and the communications and digital agenda, involving the civil society organizations, the business environment representatives, academia and policy makers, altogether.
The Three Seas Initiative is an outstanding cooperation and the Atlantic Council had an active involvement in supporting the international collaboration for such strategic areas.
Therefore, please allow me to invite our distinguished guest, General Jones, to address a few words and it is with pride and joy that I offer him a gold coin, as a token of our appreciation for the relentless work and active support of the Three Seas Initiative.
The gold coin issued by the National Bank of Romania marks the 20th Anniversary of the United States of America and Romania Strategic Partnership and features the Cernavoda Bridge as symbol of partnership and communication and the Statue of Liberty as symbol of freedom and independence.
I wish you all a great evening and I express my belief that the 3rd Summit of the Three Seas Initiative emerged with significant progress carrying forward the strategic alliance for future development and international cooperation.
In order to mark the 20th Anniversary of the US – Romania Strategic Partnership, the National Bank of Romania has issued a gold coin, with a mintage of only 250 pieces. As you can see for yourselves on the slide, the obverse depicts the Cernavoda Bridge, a symbolic illustration of partnership and communication and the reverse has a partial representation of the Statue of Liberty in New York and the inscription “Strategic Partnership Romania – the United States of America – 1997”(in Romanian).