Ukraine-Romania relations play a significant role in the Wider Black Sea region. The year 2020 was an active year in terms of the bilateral dialogue, even if it took place in conditions of uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The diplomatic interactions have not been affected.
On the contrary, they were more vivid than usual. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba and Minister of Defence of Ukraine Andriy Taran visited Bucharest. The technical-military cooperation agreement was signed. Discussions on joint initiatives in the energy field (a working group, which will include experts from both states) were launched as well as discussions in several bilateral commissions on the content of the protocols to be signed. Romanian-Ukrainian border crossing point at Isaccea was opened. Strategic communication on development and humanitarian assistance in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic took place. All these elements once again demonstrate that, despite challenges of different origins, the potential of bilateral dialogue deserves to be explored to achieve common objectives and benefits for citizens of the two states.
The proposed study will be presented the most important events, processes, and political decisions of the year 2020 that influenced the Romania-Ukraine bilateral dialogue. Also, this study will include a brief analysis of the recommendations proposed by Romanian and Ukrainian experts in 2019. This retrospective and critical at the same time approach will contribute to better monitoring of the assumed results and also will highlight the future priorities of the bilateral dialogue between the two countries.
The opinions of the authors do not necessarily reflect the views of the Strategic and Security Studies Group, the Foreign Policy Council “Ukrainian Prism,” and the Experts for Security and Global Affairs. Moreover, in some cases, the authors focus on different priorities and assess the bilateral relations from different angles. This is a step back to some extent since such an approach does not correspond with the goals of a joint search for the opportunities to strengthen the strategic partnership of Ukraine and Romania. However, such an approach is justified because it provides an opportunity to better understand the key stakeholders’ mainstream approaches, whereas assuring such understanding is among the Project’s key objectives and the critical tasks of the civil society in both countries.
Chapter 1. Analysis of the Domestic Political Situation in UKRAINE and its Impact on the Bilateral Relations
Chapter 2. Analysis of the Domestic Political Situation in ROMANIA and its impact on the bilateral relations
Chapter 3. The Impact of the International Situation on the Bilateral Ukraine-Romania Relations
3.1. A view from Kyiv
3.2. View from Bucharest
Chapter 4. Forum Ukraine-Romania 2019 Recommendations Implementation Analysis
4.1. View from Ukraine
4.2. View from Romania Angela GRAMADA
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR 2021
Most of the recommendations made by experts in 2019 remain relevant for 2021. The following are the priorities stressed during the Ukraine-Romania Civil Society Forum 2020 that should be considered in 2021 to enhance bilateral cooperation at all levels.
- 1. To enhance interparliamentary dialogue between Ukraine and Romania. To consider the possibility of both a bilateral format and a trilateral format of regular consultations, including Moldova.
- 2. To establish an institutionalised format of the bilateral dialogue at the level of ministers of foreign affairs and defence with regular annual (semi-annual) meetings.
- 3. To consider participation of the Romanian Minister of Defence and Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Ukraine-Turkey Quadriga Format meeting (with a status acceptable for all the parties.
- 4. To propose participation of the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs in trilateral Romania-Poland-Turkey format of security cooperation (with a status acceptable for all the parties).
- 5. To have consultations with Romania and other parties involved on engaging Ukraine into Bucharest 9 activities in a format beneficial for all the parties.
- 6. To encourage Romania to actively participate in the Crimean Platform, including high-level participation in the inaugural summit in August 2021 and following activities at the governmental and expert levels.
- 7. To study the potential of the bilateral cooperation around the Danube issues and in the framework of the Danube Strategy and the Danube Commission. To broader annual Riverine exercises to the NATO Danube level. To study the possibility of the joint efforts to expulse Russia from the Danube Commission as a country that does not comply with the Statute’s criteria and violates international law.
- 8. Aiming at deepening trust between the parties in sectoral formats to accelerate activities on strengthening strategic partnership agenda and partnership for security and stability in the Black Sea, by launching, for example, joint (possibly, multilateral) monitoring of the security situation in the region. Georgia and Bulgaria can be invited to such an initiative. Hybrid Warfare response center can also be a part of this initiative.
- 9. To focus bilateral dialogue on economic opportunities on the connections between financial resources and sustainable development priorities, transport, and energy infrastructure, as well as optimisation of the legal framework, encouraging digitalisation, innovations, and implementation of technological solutions.
- 10. To promote a bilateral dialogue (both at the governmental and expert levels) on energy security issues. Special working groups, which can also include representatives of the European Commission, NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence or Energy Community Secretariat, can be an initial step. Without understanding both parties’ needs, some economic efforts and decisions may end without an implementation perspective. It is necessary to provide greater coherence and systematisation of outcomes, so consultations should be regular.
- 11. Transborder cooperation projects priorities should be revised considering the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences to both countries. More active involvement of final beneficiaries in public consultations should be encouraged and not just for the start of a new financial year.
- 12. To consider a possibility of widening the annual Ukrainian-Romanian civil society forum to the representatives of Moldova with gradual turn it into the trilateral format.
- 13. To enhance dialogue between the representatives of civil society and governmental agencies, as well as parliaments of two sides aimed at increased state expertise and analysis of issues of bilateral concern, with a simultaneous decrease in disinformation, information manipulation and covert operation initiated by third parties.
- 14. To develop an advocacy strategy, which can improve the bilateral dialogue between Romania and Ukraine. This document must identify priorities, sensitive topics, tools, and appropriate communication channels.
- 15. To initiate bilateral Ukrainian-Romanian and trilateral Ukrainian-Moldovan-Romanian dialogue on Transnistrian conflict and its consequences for regional security and stability.