Only six weeks have passed since the moment when the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, and the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, signed a joint declaration in which the decision to “build a strategic partnership between Ukraine and Romania” was recorded. They also asked their teams to “immediately start work on this.” Yet we already have strong results, which indicate that the process has begun.

Government track

During the recent visit to Ukraine of a representative Romanian delegation led by Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu, a joint meeting of the governments of Ukraine and Romania took place. This in itself is an unprecedented event that also produced excellent results.

The four most promising areas of cooperation between our countries were identified: logistics, with priority development of the Danube cluster; border infrastructure; agriculture; and energy.

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Seven agreements were also signed. Particularly important among them, in my opinion, is the memorandum on strengthening cooperation in ensuring the reliable transit of Ukrainian goods, which provides for the development of a network of checkpoints between Ukraine and Romania. The memorandum of understanding and cooperation also provides for the increase of defense production capacities and the expansion of ammunition production.

Parliamentary track

Efforts to create an inter-parliamentary assembly, which should include the Chamber of Deputies of Romania, the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, have been significantly intensified.

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On the evening of Oct. 18, after my speech from the parliamentary rostrum with a call to proceed to the practical implementation of this initiative, a working meeting of representatives of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine with the Romanian delegation took place. During the discussion of prospective areas of cooperation, the Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament Ruslan Stefanchuk, in particular, informed the Romanian Prime Minister of Ciolacu about such an initiative. And as far as I know, it was favorably received by the Romanian side.

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Business track

There was a significant intensification of contacts when discussing the issues of the restoration of Ukraine and Romania’s participation in this process. From Oct. 18 to 21, the Rebuilding Ukraine Forum 2023 was held in Bucharest in the building of the Chamber of Deputies. World leaders and experts shaping the future were invited to this Forum in order to discuss key aspects of the reconstruction and restoration of Ukraine. I have no doubts that all the developments and agreements that were reached during its holding will be developed and will become even more concrete during the conference “Reconstruction of Ukraine and the strategic role of Romania.” This event is scheduled for Dec. 13-14, 2023 and will take place in Sinaia under the patronage of the government of Romania.

Declarations of support

Finally, it is worth noting separately the recent Bloomberg interview with Prime Minister Ciolacu. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the head of the Romanian government for the principled and consistent way in which he defends the need to strengthen support for Ukraine.

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During the October meeting in the Ukrainian parliament, he clearly outlined the formula for our strategic cooperation: “There is a war between the dictatorship and democracy, we must do everything necessary so that democracy wins.”

And now he expressed himself even more harshly and concretely: “Romania will continue to help Ukraine regardless of the political costs. These political costs are less important than the precedent that a Russian victory would set.”

Going forward

So, what are the near-term prospects for Ukraine and Romania, given such a decisive start to building a strategic partnership?

First, the development of border infrastructure will contribute to the expansion of Ukraine’s export opportunities and expand the possibilities of cross-border communication routes.

This will make it possible to significantly increase the trade turnover between our countries with the prospect of reaching the status of “largest trading partners.”

Secondly, the development of partnerships in the field of military industry. Such cooperation is critically important for Ukraine. On the one hand, it allows us to meet the needs of strengthening our defense forces and, on the other hand, to more successfully and quickly integrate into the NATO security space.

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But such a partnership is extremely promising and profitable for Romanian manufacturers as well.

Thirdly, solving the “Moldovan language” issue opens up a wide range of opportunities for cooperation in the humanitarian sphere. The ultimate goal of such cooperation was outlined by the Prime Minister Ciolacu: “Romanians in Ukraine will have the same rights as Ukrainians in Romania.”

Fourthly, following the results of two powerful events dedicated to the issue of the restoration of Ukraine, we can expect more specifics about Romania’s participation in this process. So far, such participation has focused on the development of infrastructure on the common border and increasing the number of checkpoints. But I am sure that Romania’s patronage, if not over the restoration of the Odesa region as a whole, then at least over several important objects, will be a very real matter in the near future.

Summarizing, we can conclude that at the initial stage, the team of the President of Ukraine coped with his task of building a strategic partnership with Romania. As Zelensky said: “There will be more cooperation.” This will help fulfill the agreements reached during the negotiations between the presidents and governments. And later, I’m sure, the parliaments will follow suit.

This it is through interaction in certain directions and projects that our countries will sign a strategic partnership agreement.

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Oleksiy Leonov

The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.

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