Bilateral relations between Romania and Ukraine reach new heights. Cooperation perspectives in sectors that vary from security to tourism are in focus of the discussion.
Kyiv, June 23, 2016. Ukraine and Romania are currently exploring their future relationship. Earlier suspicious attitude dominated: Ukraine was perceived as a transmitter of Russian interests while Romania was suspected in having intentions to recreate the “Big Romania”. Following Russia’s aggression the countries started becoming closer based on the common security threat, said Sergiy Solodkyi, First Deputy Director of the Institute of World Policy at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “International relations will always have their problems. Main thing is to be able to resolve them in the spirit of partnership. There are also certain risks: friendship against someone is only a short-term perspective. We need to fill in the cooperation between the two countries,” warned Solodkyi. He noted that Romania was the first EU member state to ratify the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement. He also said the dialogue has intensified at the highest level. Moreover Romania came up with the idea of establishing the Black Sea fleet, the idea that was supported by Ukraine. “Our recommendations include cooperation at security level, adopting best practices in cyber security – the sector in which Romania is a recognized leader. Trilateral cooperation between Poland, Ukraine and Romania is also worth considering. Romania’s best practices in combatting corruption and in development of the energy sector are also something to learn from as the country is the least dependent importer of the Russian gas among the EU member states,” noted Solodkyi.
He emphasized that national minorities remain the most sensitive issue in the countries’ bilateral relations. “We see compact settlement of the Romanian national minority [in Ukraine] as an opportunity to develop bilateral relations between Ukraine and Romania. It’s them that need to become a bridge between our countries and the stability factor of our relations. We would advise them to be loyal to the country in which they live and citizens of which they are,” reassured Cornel Ionescu, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Romania to Ukraine. In his opinion relations between the two countries are now stronger than ever before and are progressing in all aspects. Mr. Ambassador emphasized that Romania is interested in having stable neighbors that would guarantee security in the region.
According to Gennadiy Altukhov, Deputy Director of the Second European Department, Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ukraine and Romania started trusting each other more and looking together for ways to build relationship that would fit into the architecture of European security. “Today’s state of regional security can be improved only through cooperation and openness between the countries,” the diplomat is convinced.
Stanislav Sekrieru, Senior Research Fellow at the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM) suggested holding a joint Ukrainian-Romanian expert forum once a year. The wider bilateral agenda is, the more issues for discussion will emerge. He also thinks it is important to engage Poland, Turkey and also the U.S. in the Black Sea region into cooperation. “Ukraine has same aims as Romania once had: EU and NATO membership. Romania may share its experience and help avoid mistakes on the way. However we need to build mutually beneficial relations, not the ones to the benefit of one side only,” noted Sekrieru. Among the rest such cooperation would involve military and technical cooperation as well as exchange of experience in the military sector: Romania may train Ukraine according to NATO standards while Ukraine in its turn may pass on the experience received in Donbas. Stanislav Sekrieru also said that bilateral trade turnover that amounts to USD one billion is considerably less than the potential. In his opinion the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between Ukraine and the EU will encourage development of bilateral economic relations. At the same time visa liberalization is to promote tourism in both countries.