At the cross-roads of different European civilisations, where Western and Central Europe built bridges toward Byzantium and the Balkans and gates to Central Asia, my country could be considered, from this perspective, a Western state with Eastern charm. Throughout the centuries, the Romanian national identity has been built on our Latin roots, the result of the Daco-Roman synthesis some 1900 years ago.
On 1 December each year, we celebrate our National Day. As a result of the democratically expressed wish of the Romanian people 92 years ago, our country looked toward the future as a modern and democratic state, proud of the reunion of all territories inhabited by Romanians into a single political entity.
The first union of the three medieval Romanian principalities – Walachia, Moldova and Transylvania – was achieved in 1600, under the reign of King Michael the Brave. Even though the union was broken after his assassination, it remained a symbolic aim for the generations that followed. National unity was partially regained in 1859, through the union of Walachia and Moldavia, giving birth to the modern Romanian state. In a 1877, under the reign of Carol I, Romania proclaimed its independence from the Ottoman Porte, and on 20 February 1880 the country was recognised by France, Germany and the United Kingdom as an independent kingdom.
This past year, Romania and the UK have celebrated 130 years of bilateral diplomatic relations, but our common ties go back to ancient times, when the two countries were part of the same political entity in Europe – the Roman Empire. The first Romanian-British diplomatic contacts and bilateral written documents date from the sixteenth century, as was underlined in an exhibition the Embassy of Romania organised together with the British Library in October.
At the start of their official diplomatic relations, Romania and the UK were also closely linked through their royal families: Princess Maria of Romania was British by birth and the granddaughter of Queen Victoria.
Romania and Great Britain have a strategic partnership (agreed in 2003) as well as a remarkably pragmatic co-operation in terms of foreign policy, defence, trade, tourism, arts and culture. The two countries share common values and interests, and strengthening the strategic partnership stands as a top priority on our bilateral agenda. Confirming this approach, important high-level bilateral visits took place recently, with the British Europe Minister and the Secretary of State for Justice paying visits to Bucharest last September and the Romanian Secretary of State for European Affairs coming to London on 1 November.
Today, Romania is the seventh largest EU Member State in terms of land mass and population, a full member of NATO, and actively engaged in promoting common objectives such as the European Foreign and Security Policy, the European Neighbourhood Policy, the Europe 2020 Strategy, fighting terrorism, combating climate change and developing a common energy policy for Europe.
Therefore, there are promising opportunities for further developing our profile within the European and Euro-Atlantic concert, and we look with optimism and responsibility toward a bright common future that we are committed to shaping together with our friends, allies and partners.