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Thursday, 07 July 2022

Prime Minister Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă’s visit to the Hellenic Republic on the occasion of the commissioning of the Greece-Bulgaria natural gas interconnector

Joint press statements by Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis


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Kyriakos Mitsotakis: Today, I received in Athens the Prime Minister of Romania, Mr Nicolae - Ionel Ciucă. It is a return visit following my visit to Bucharest some time ago, one day before Russia’s armed invasion of Ukraine. Then as now, together with my friend Nicolae Ciuca, I confirmed once again the very good bilateral relations of friendship, our common trust in international law, democracy, equality and respect for human rights.

Greece and Romania, in addition to being neighbours in the Balkan area, are members of the European Union, and NATO. I stated and confirmed it once again at the recent summit held in Madrid, where our two countries presented themselves as two pillars of stability and peace in the area. Our nations have always been close to one another and they fought together the climate crisis-related dangers.

We all remember with gratitude the help that the Romanian firefighters granted last year, last summer, when they showed extraordinary professionalism and devotion and helped our country to fight the wildfires that took place, we could say, for the first time in our country. This collaboration has since become an organized plan and our collaboration continues this year as well.

28 Romanian firefighters together with eight vehicles are with us based on an EU civil protection program. This shows us that we can still have collaborations at the international level, at the European level and I want to thank here Mr Prime Minister Ciucă who is also a general, for the importance he attached to combating the asymmetric dangers we have always faced. It is possible that we will need reinforcements from Romania in the future and I am sure that you will make them available to us. We agreed to update our collaboration in the energy field. Greece will become a natural gas storage and transportation hub, which will cover not only national needs but also the needs of the area and course Romania. Of course, we are not just talking about a simple trade collaboration agreement, it is also proof of the solidarity and of the responsibility we have in this region. Tomorrow we will inaugurate the gas pipeline to Alexandroupolis and thus we will have an independence of Europe, we could say, so it will be an important step that we will take forward in our structures and infrastructures so important to gain independence from the natural gas from Russia, because as you have seen, unfortunately, Russia uses the natural gas as a geostrategic instrument. And this step, of course, will help us to have much faster independence from fuel and natural gas from Russia, so we will be energy independent.

Russia used these tactics in this way to make an invasion of another country, thus violating international law and having some cruel claims, demanding some cruel claims. These were the issues that we discussed with the Prime Minister of Romania, Mr Ciuca, and we are trying to find ways to continue supporting Ukraine. We will try to find different possibilities, different roads, and different ways of exporting and transporting agricultural output from Ukraine to international markets, as I mentioned on another occasion, we have jointly analyzed how this production could reach international markets, for example, through the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.

We noticed that we have close opinions on all these issues that we discussed, and we agreed that the two countries should have joint actions both at the NATO level and within other international forums.

We also discussed the integration of Romania and Bulgaria into the Schengen area. In general, we also referred to the trajectory of the Western Balkans in their integration into the great European family, because it will lead to the development of the economy, in general, throughout our peninsula and to stability and security in the area.

Finally, I informed Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca about the ongoing Ankara provocation, the rhetoric that it uses, about its actions which often question international conventions and the rights we have. Once again, I said that our country will defend itself and is ready at any time and determined at any time to defend its national and international rights. Of course, there must always be a beneficial dialogue on both sides. In conclusion, I would like to conclude and say that our meeting today took place in a climate as good, and as friendly as ever, and I want to refer here to the opening of an exhibition marking 140 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. This exhibition is open at the Byzantine Museum, so there was an extraordinary collaboration between the Romanian Embassy in Athens and the Historical Diplomatic Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Athens. Prime Minister and friend, Nicolae Ciucă, thank you for your visit to us, today, in Athens and once again I assure you of our support so that Romania can use renewable energy resources, and find alternative energy resources, it is very important because your country has discovered new natural gas resources in the Black Sea. There are a lot of possibilities to have better relations in the future, in this field. Thank you!

Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă: Thank you very much, Mr Prime Minister! Dear Kyriakos, I take this opportunity to wish you a happy name day. I know it is very important for each of us when we celebrate the name day and especially here, in Greece, it is a special day and I am glad that we had this official meeting. I would like to thank you for your warm welcome, and friendship, they are in the spirit of the traditional Greek hospitality, that many Romanians enjoy when they chose Greece as a holiday destination.

As you mentioned, Romania stood with the Greek Government, with the Greek people last year, in their efforts, when you greatly suffered from forest fires. And this year we are present and we will be with you – hopefully, no more than the 28 military firefighters from the Inspectorate for Emergency Situations in Romania are needed, please count on our support in any difficult situation, as I am sure that you will be with us when the situation requires. I would like to thank the Romanian military firefighters for their effort and the way they fulfilled their mission and they represented their country. I'm here in Athens, it's the second meeting we've had in a short time. The day before the invasion of Ukraine began, we had an official visit to Bucharest, where together we signed the joint declaration to strengthen political, economic and sectoral cooperation. Today we were able to have a coherent continuation of the decisions we made together in Bucharest. At the same time, today's delegation included representatives from the ministries of energy in Greece and Romania, we had representatives of companies that are the ones who implement the political decisions we take and I can say that it was a meeting as much as possible of dynamics and practice, which has short-term objectives and of course medium and long-term objectives, following that, at the level of energy ministers, a memorandum will be signed to ensure our joint projects in the medium and long term.

Of course, in today’s discussion, I approached the impact of the war in Ukraine, we analyzed the issues that are on the agenda of all governments in Europe, and not only, regarding energy and food security. We had a very topical discussion four months ago, in February, and today, in Athens, I thanked my friend Kyriakos for his efforts during this period, so that we see this Greece –Bulgaria interconnector completed.

It is a very important interconnector to everything which means the natural gas transmission network to Europe. This interconnector will ensure the connection between the network that passes through Anatolia and the Adriatic and also connects through the BRUA pipeline, thus giving consistency to the vertical corridor and securing the supply of gas to both Bulgaria and Romania. And, of course, we can secure the gas supply to our eastern partners, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, and of course to other countries that are on the distribution diagram of this gas network.

Elements of common interest regarding the development of energy capacities have been discussed, and we had an accurate picture of the projects we have, which we can develop together, so that we can provide the necessary energy amount through our country’s developments in deep gas offshore and onshore exploitations, to ensure our full independence from Russian gas and energy.

All these issues are aimed at the aspects that feel the impact of the war in Ukraine regarding the humanitarian crisis with all aspects related to Ukrainian citizens who transit our country, or who stayed in Romania. There is also this aspect relevant not only for us but for the entire region, of the grains exports from Ukraine, we examined and identified joint solutions to facilitate the export of a larger amount to those who need agricultural products from Ukraine. The security aspects which have been established in Madrid and for which we made joint efforts, managing thus to fulfil our objectives. There is also the role and responsibilities undertaken within the Alliance regarding the provision of regional security and each of us’ contribution to these Allied steps. We welcomed the new NATO concept and the fact that the Black Sea is part of the new concept a strategic relevance concept for Allied security and of course, the Balkan area, and within the European Union, we are part of all projects and responsibilities, so that we can meet those requirements related to new renewable energy sources and decarbonization.

Regarding bilateral relations, we have asked the Prime Minister and, of course, his team, to support us in everything that means our efforts to be admitted to the Schengen area as soon as possible. It is a national goal, it is a recognition of the efforts that our country has made in this regard, efforts that have been very visible during this period, since the war in Ukraine started, and we have provided all the elements so that the transit of people, goods, grains from Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova can be carried out safely, proving that we comply with the requirements of the EU acquis, the Schengen acquis. And at the same time, it is a reward for the Romanian citizens who have been waiting for ten years to obtain this status as a Schengen member country because in this way I think we will be able to contribute much easier to everything that means both the transit of goods and the security and safety-enhancing elements on the Schengen border.

I thank you once again for the warm welcome, and the professional framework in which we carried out our work, I wish you a Happy Name Day and I hope we will see you again next time, in Bucharest. I am sorry that I cannot attend with you tomorrow the commissioning ceremony of the interconnector. Thank you.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: Thank you very much. 

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