On Thursday April, 21 President Petro Poroshenko arrived to Romania with an official visit . The Heads of the states will discuss cooperation in international security and are supposed to agree on the abolition of payment for long-term visas. Ukraine’s relations with the neighbor recently gotten considerably warmer.
“Ukrainian Prism: Foreign Policy 2015” on how did the emphasis change last year and what are the main achievements of Ukrainian diplomacy.
“B-” for Ukrainian-Romanian relations
In 2015, there was a considerable intensifcation of relations between Ukraine and Romania. For the frst time in the last 7 years, the President of Romania came to Ukraine with an offcial visit. Romania consistently supported Ukraine on the bilateral level and in international organizations.
Political parties are not interested in Romania. Unlike the state leadership
In the programs of the parliamentary political forces “Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc “Solidarnist”, the Opposition Bloc, “Narodny Front”, Oleh Liashko’s Radical Party, the All-Ukrainian Union “Batkivshchyna”, and the party “Vidrodzhennia”, there are no mentions about relations with Romania.
There are also no direct mentions of Romania in the Coalition Agreement, either. As to the mentions in the declarations of factions and leaders of political parties, during 2015 the mentions about Romania appeared in the statements of the leader of “Samopomich” Oleh Bereziuk, who, in particular, proposed to use Romania’s experience concerning “outsourcing the customs to Swiss, German, or even American customs services”, and also in the declarations of the leader of the faction “Narodny Front” Maksym Burbak, who co-chairs the interparliamentary group «Ukraine – Romania».
In the Analytical Report to the Annual Address of the President of Ukraine to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in 2015, the President expressed gratitude to Romania for a powerful support in Ukraine’s stand against Russia, and expressed interest in the indepth bilateral cooperation and also cooperation in multilateral formats (including formats with participation of the Republic of Moldova). At the same time,
the Report mentions competition with Romania for cargo traffc, although the authors of the Analytical report emphasize that on the background of negative dynamics of relations with the Russian Federation, competition between Ukraine and Romania should become a non-priority consideration.
The catalyst of mentions about Romania in the declarations and speeches of high offcials – the Prime Minister and the President – was the visit of the President of Romania Klaus Iohannis to Kyiv in March of 2015. The statements of Ukrainian offcials did not contain any contradictions and manifested interest for development of relations and interest in the Romanian experience of reforms and European integration.
In summary, on the one hand, political parties show lack of interest towards Romania, but at the level of the leaders of the state and leaders of separate factions, the interest and engagement are evident.
No strategy, but cooperation exists
There is a quite high level of institutional cooperation in formation of Ukraine’s policy concerning development of relations with Romania. In particular, the Parliament and the President, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, the Ministry of Infrastructure, and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine showed effective interaction.
Direct mentions about Romania are absent in the Law of Ukraine “On Foundations of Domestic and Foreign Policy”, in the National Security Strategy of Ukraine, in the Military Doctrine of Ukraine, and in the Strategy “Ukraine-2020”. At the same time, Romania is mentioned in the Energy Strategy 2035, but the wording is rather unspecifc, as it is mentioned in a list along with other priorities.
Presidential visit – the first time in 7 years
The work of the Embassy of Ukraine in Romania is effective. The Ambassador of Ukraine in Romania Teofl Bauer is effectively cooperating with the representatives of the Ukrainian community in Romania; also, the Embassy regularly informs the public about key issues of Ukraine’s foreign policy via Romanian media.
In February of 2015, there was a visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin to Bucharest. In the course of the visit, the Minister conducted negotiations with the President of Romania Klaus Iohannis, the Vice Prime Minister, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Romania Gabriel Opria, the Chair of Senate Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Bogdan Aurescu, and met with representatives of the Ukrainian community.
On March 17, 2015, the President of Romania Klaus Iohannis visited Ukraine with an offcial visit.
In the course of the Iohannis’ visit to Ukraine, Ukraine and Romania agreed on renewing the work of the joint Presidential commission (its session is expected to take place in the course of Petro Poroshenko’s visit to Bucharest in 2016).
During the time that passed since the meeting of the two Presidents, there was a series of meetings/consultations in Kyiv and in Bucharest at the level of specialized Ministries and agencies. In particular, during 2015 there were working visits at the level of the Mixed Intergovernmental Ukrainian-Romanian Commission on national minorities.
Also, in 2015 the Head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau Artem Sytnyk offcially visited Romania. There was a noticeable dynamics in development of interparliamentary institutional cooperation. In particular, during 2015, the head of the Ukraine-Romania interparliamentary cooperation group, Maksym Burbak visited Romania twice. We should separately mention the visit of the head of the Committee for Foreign Policy of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of Romania László Borbély to Kyiv in March 2015, in the course of which he met the Vice Speaker of the Parliament of Ukraine Andriy Parubiy, as well as participation of the Ukrainian parliamentary delegation headed by Liudmyla Denysova at the PABSEC session in Bucharest in November 2015.
The Minister of Energy of Ukraine and the Minister of Transport of Ukraine invited their Romanian counterparts to visit Ukraine in the beginning of 2016. Also, in the frst half of 2016, a visit to Romania is planned for the Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament.
Cooperation has been established in the security sphere, too. In particular, the military of Ukraine and Romania participated in the broad-scale joint military exercise: in June-July 2015 –Saber Guardian/Rapid Trident 15, in September 2015 – Sea Breeze-2015.
On the way to strategic cooperation?
Based on the results of work in 2015, we can mark out that Romania supported Ukraine’s positions both on the bilateral level and on international forums. In 2016, visits to Romania are planned for the President and for the Prime Minister of Ukraine. Work is being conducted on approval of an agreement on cancellation of payment for Romanian national visas for citizens of Ukraine.
At the same time, in 2015, a series of bilateral documents was approved and came into effect between Ukraine and Romania, which updated and actualized the legal framework for bilateral cooperation. In particular, these were the following documents of national signifcance: the Agreement between the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Government of Romania on mutual protection of restricted information, the Agreement between the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Government of Romania on measures for improving mutual confdence and security, the Agreement between the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Government of Romania on the local near-border transit, as well as the agreements that are required for development of near-border cooperation: the Agreement between the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Government of Romania about laying the optic fber cable across the Ukrainian-Romanian state border in the region between populated localities Orlivka (Ukraine) and Isakcha (Romania), the Agreements (in the form of note exchange) between the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Government of Romania about opening an international checkpoint across the Ukrainian-Romanian state border for ferries, passenger and cargo transit between populated localities Orlivka (Ukraine) and Isakcha (Romania).
If the positive dynamics persists, we can expect further rapprochement between the states, up to the level of strategic partnership.