Joint Press Statements Teodor Baconschi – Andris Piebalgs

Date: 
06/24/10
Event: 
Opening of the 3rd Romanian Development School
Location: 
Bucharest

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Teodor Baconschi: It gives me great pleasure to attend the 3rd Romanian Development School, in the eloquent company of European Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, who is thus supporting us directly and helping us develop a political and civic culture in Romania in the area of assistance for development. For a long time we were a beneficiary state for this type of assistance, and we are beginning to understand that it is our national interest to donate assistance to our neighbors who, through this instrument – or using this instrument alongside others – can come closer to the European standards. Of course, in the context of the global economic and financial crisis which also affected the European Union directly, assistance for development is at risk of losing some of its effectiveness and public support. It is so much the more important to do what we are doing today, in this Romanian School for Development, to transmit a clear message that assistance for development brings positive returns to Romania's own development and to the geo-political stability of our neighbor regions. As far as I am concerned, this afternoon I am going to have talks with Commissioner Piebalgs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I would only like to reiterate publicly the support extended by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in matters of assistance for development, under the very generous umbrella of the Millennium Development Goals assumed by the United Nations Organization. We will continue to help, particularly the Republic of Moldova, but also Georgia and other states in the region, which are still in the situation of receiving assistance for development. Commissioner, once again please receive our warm welcome to you.


European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs
: Thank you very much. I am very happy to be here in Bucharest, in my new capacity as Commissioner for Development. I was Commissioner for Energy before, conditions were different then. The year 2010 is very important for the policies of cooperation for development. In September, a meeting at the level of Heads of State will take place in New York, to discuss the progress made in the eradication of poverty and the European Union has a particularly important role to play in the battle against poverty. We are leaders, offering more than 50% of the assistance for development. The Foreign Ministers, as well as the Heads of State and Government, will have to agree on the European Union’s common position at the New York Summit. In brief, this means that we will stick to our commitments and we hope that the developing countries will, in turn, play their part in combating poverty, so that together we should successfully meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Of course everyone agrees to these noble goals; yet at times of crisis we wonder what benefits this contribution brings us? But in fact decent living conditions all over the world mean less conflicts; the economic growth of Africa would also entail an economic growth for the European Union. It is therefore obvious this economic growth is a relevant target for every European Union citizen. Romania is one of the large Member States and its support to the European development policy in attaining those goals is crucial. I expect that today and tomorrow during the talks I am going to have to explain what we plan to do and what Romania can do to back the goals and methods used within EU in the global struggle against poverty. Thank you.


Reporter:
Is energy an area we should focus on in supporting poor states? I refer particularly to the Republic of Moldova.


European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs
: Yes, it is, because no economic growth can take place without energy. At the same time, I try to encourage the Member States to channel part of our assistance into investment in green energy in the developing states.


Reporter:
Mr. Minister, how much understanding could one expect to find with the public for a possible enhancement of Romania’s contribution to development, given that our institutions are forced to restructure themselves?


Minister of Foreign Affairs, Teodor Baconschi
: I said earlier that at a time of great economic-financial hardships, it is difficult to ask the public to agree to assistance for development as a budgetary effort by Romania. When I said this earlier, I brought arguments in favor of the economic interdependence between the EU Member States and the states around the EU, and also at a global level. We cannot accept to see an economic disaster looming in a certain country or continent, without being sure that it will have a negative impact on the European Union’s economic situation as well. It is necessary to speed up a sustained process of public education to help our fellow citizens to understand that if we help those who are in greater difficulty than we are, this will yield positive returns for us and we can feel secure in the long-term of our own investments and our own plans of economic development.


Reporter:
Will the amount allotted for development increase?


Minister of Foreign Affairs, Teodor Baconschi
: The amount available to the MFA is two million euros. We are running a non-reimbursable financial assistance program with the Republic of Moldova and we cannot increase our contribution this year, but we are talking about a progressive, political commitment and I hope that as early as next year we have the possibility to slightly increase the budget percentage allotted to assistance for development. 


European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs
: I would like to add something. Romania is not the only one in this situation. I gave the example of two countries which made budgetary cuts, quite painful decisions, including my own country.... I was very happy that my country decided to send aid to Haiti, after the earthquake. Another example is Great Britain, where unprecedented budgetary cuts were made, but there was one single domain where no cuts were operated, that of cooperation for development. Because this should be looked upon as an investment in our future – which means not only economic future, but also our political credibility. Romania will continue to exist 10, 20, 100 years later... the official commitment of the Heads of State to assistance for development must be kept. Thank you.