US Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell has held a speech at the Law Faculty in Bucharest, about the anti-corruption institutions and the judicial system in Romania. He said the US is with Romania every step of the way.
“ It took a very long time and significant sacrifices by the people of Romania, through the horrors of Nazism, the long night of Communism, the corruption and secret police of Ceausescu, to achieve the prize of political freedom. And today, Romanians continue to show vigilance and determination in realizing your country’s full potential. The United States is with you and will continue to be with you every step of the way,” the US official pointed out.
Mitchell recalled that 30 years ago Romania was one of the poorest countries in Europe and now is EU member and the economy is one of the most dynamic. Romania has built strong judicial system and anti-corruption institutions, to which the victims of communism could have never dreamt of, Wess Mitchell said.
“Thirty years ago, on the eve of 1989, Romania was one of the poorest and most isolated and backward countries in Europe. Its GDP was about $40 billion at the time. The average Romanian earned a little less than $150 a month, was inured to frequent shortages and breadlines. The average Romanian could also be tortured and summarily executed for even the slightest hint of disloyalty to the Communist regime. Today Romania is a member of NATO and the EU. Its GDP is $187 billion, GDP per capita has increased fivefold, and the Romanian economy is one of the most dynamic in Europe with growth of nearly 7% last year. Romania has built a strong judiciary and anti-corruption institutions that the victims of communism could never in their wildest dreams have imagined. Romanians today enjoy broad freedoms; you are able to speak your minds and assemble without fear of repression; you can travel unfettered throughout Europe, you stand on strong legs,” he said.
The Assistant Secretary of State said every country should fight against corruption and that the US wants Romania to continue on this path for the well being of its citizens, but also because it is an inspiration for the neighbours.
Romania is a symbol of liberty at the eastern border, which proves that Romania has developed in the region, Mitchell said: “Romania is an indelible symbol of the success of democracy. In recent years, you have made historic headway in the fight against corruption. You are not alone in this fight. Every country in the world has to fight corruption.”
He advised that no steps back should be made and such institutions should be further developed.
Mitchell also reminded that Romania is a very close ally and strategic partner of the United States. “Romanian soldiers have served alongside U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I know the very high regard that our military holds the Romanian military. On behalf of the American people, I want to thank the Romanian people for the sacrifices that they have made in supporting so many of these important missions. In particular, I would like to offer my gratitude to the families of the eight Romanian soldiers who were wounded in Kandahar earlier this spring,” he stated.
Mitchell also tackled the issues of the threats in the Black Sea region, slamming Russia and China for their expansion intentions.
“The Russia of Vladimir Putin never stopped seeing this region as part of its natural sphere of influence. It never accepted the choice of the Romanian people to freely join the West. Russia’s invasions of Georgia and Ukraine, its seizure of Crimea, systematic and prolonged destabilization of Moldova, intervention in Syria, strengthening of the Black Sea fleet, all these things underscore the seriousness with which Moscow approaches its competition for influence and territory in this region.
But Russia is no longer alone. There is also China. Chinese influence is expanding rapidly in the Black Sea region. Beijing uses debt-book diplomacy to create dependencies, which may seem negligible today but will eventually constitute very real leverage over Central European governments and societies. The 16+1 and Belt/Road initiatives aim to create alternatives to Western influence. Through its money, China offers countries a king of mortgage on their future.
Both Russia and China in their own way want to break the West: Russia wants to fracture it and China wants to supplant it. And nowhere are they more determined to do so than here, in the Black Sea region. Their objective is the very political, social and economic fabric that makes up Romania,” the US official underlined.
The US Assistant Secretary of State is paying a visit to Romania on Monday and Tuesday to meet officials and independent analysts. He is to meet President Klaus Iohannis on Tuesday.
Assistant Secretary Mitchell will then travel to Zagreb, Croatia, on June 19, where he will meet with senior Croatian officials to discuss developments in Croatia and the region, including Croatia’s contributions to regional stability and energy security.
On June 20 and 21, he will be in Prague, Czech Republic to participate in the U.S.-Czech Republic Strategic Dialogue, meet with Czech officials, and deliver a speech co-hosted by the Prague European Summit and GLOBSEC.
Finally, June 21-22, Assistant Secretary Mitchell will visit Brussels, Belgium. There he will meet with Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. He will also discuss areas of U.S.-European cooperation with EU officials, and he will give a speech at Carnegie Europe.