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Monday, 02 December

Speech by Prime Minister Ludovic Orban at the plenary solemn session of Parliament dedicated to the National Day of Romania

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Dear President of Romania,

Dear Speakers of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate,

Dear President Emil Constantinescu,

Your Beatitude,

Your Holiness,

Your Majesty, Custodian of the Crown,

Dear members of the Romanian Parliament,

Your Excellency, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,

Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps,

Dear President of the Constitutional Court,

Dear President of the Court of Accounts,

Dear Ombudsman,

Dear President of the National Association of War Veterans,

Dear guests,

 

It is a real honour for me as the representative of the Government of Romania, invested on November 4, to address you and our fellow citizens about the historical and also present importance of December 1, the National Day of Romania. This day is undoubtedly for any Romanian, the day when we want to put aside the ordinary rush of daily life - especially of the political life - and to dedicate a thought of gratitude and piety to those who, 101 years ago, put aside any political or personal difference and they chose Unity as Romania's destiny. This is the day when we celebrate the courage of those who fought and sacrificed themselves in the Great War for the reunification of Romania, but also in the difficult years that followed, to defend this union. We also celebrate the civic courage of those who gathered in organizations and political assemblies, asserted without hesitation their will to make a single, unitary and democratic Romanian state.

December 1, the day of the Alba Iulia Proclamation, is a symbol of all these efforts, of the struggle taking place before and afterwards in the Old Kingdom and in all the Romanian provinces, for an ideal that had long been present in the minds of the Romanian patriots as a right and the only possible way to assert our modern nation.

As politicians, we must see in the National Day other meanings too, which bring us valuable lessons from the past for the present and future. The union proclaimed by the nation in 1918 needed in the following years another kind of struggle, a political and diplomatic one, in order to gain international recognition and to make the Romanians' will be respected by the peace treaties. This fight was carried out, with the support of the royal institution, by politicians whom we must always remember with reverence: Ionel Brătianu, Take Ionescu, Alexandru Vaida-Voevod, Iuliu Maniu, Nicolae Iorga and so many others, who far from being perfect, had remarkable qualities and succeeded in achieving this fundamental desideratum for Romania. They were responsible politicians, dedicated to Romania’s interests, made the necessary decisions, sometimes sacrificing their own political ambitions, to carry out the great mission that the popular will entrusted them with. This is also a great lesson about unity, viewed from a different perspective: unity among people, citizens and its elites, the union of will and action that led to victory and its worldwide recognition. We must honestly ask ourselves if we have this form of unity today and also about the responsibility of politicians called to place first, above any other objectives, the public good, the common interest of the society they represent. Today’s Romania, like Romania of those times, expresses in full clarity, its willingness to progress, its desire of democracy, freedom, and an unequivocal attachment to Romania’s Euro-Atlantic values and destiny.

A few days ago, we celebrated 100 years since the session in November 1919, of the first Parliament of Greater Romania, anniversary which enriches this year the significance of December 1. The Parliament of those times, where the political competition was not lacking, was at the same time an embodiment of a new Romania that wanted not only to be unified, but also to be modern, democratic, and to have institutions that represent the interest of the citizens. Although it had only worked for several months, its significance is great, both as the first Parliament of unified Romania and as the first Parliament elected by universal vote, a cornerstone of the democratic reforms that followed, including the adoption of the new Constitution in 1923. Thus, Romania entered a new stage of its modernization, that gave more opportunities to economic and socio-cultural development, extended the citizens' rights, configured for the first time the relations between state and national minorities, allowed accession to international organizations and alliances from new positions. We are now at a time when the Romanian society has given us a clear signal that it wants a new modernization action following which the state institutions can better serve the citizens, in line with our historical times. It is the duty of today's MPs, the government, political leaders in general, to meet these expectations and work to make the necessary decisions, including by re-examining the constitutional and legislative system, in order to strengthen democracy. During 1919-1920, like in 1918, the unity of will and action between society and political elites proved to be key to the country's progress. And Romania needs progress, we all know it, the entire society knows it, only the political and an administrative decision is late to recognize these expectations so far. Whether it is about infrastructure, transparency in managing public funds, economic freedom, tax predictability, investment in education, healthcare, culture, defending judicial independence, the political class is obliged to act in compliance with the clearly expressed will of the society. As we committed to you, through our programme, the Government on behalf of which I am addressing you today, will work – in our limited tenure – to give a determined impetus to Romania in the direction of this progress, and will cooperate with all political and social forces that are genuinely devoted to public interest.

The unity and bravery that December 1 brings to our memory, every year, had also other significance in the exceptional history of 1917 – 1919, which in its turn finds an echo in Romania’s present: solidarity between Romanians home and Romanians abroad. One century ago, Romanians in the United States, France and the other European states organized themselves in committees of action, volunteered for Entente’s armies, published and sought the support of Great Powers for the national cause. Today, Romanian diaspora is very strong, living abroad in large number, and its desire to participate in building Romania’s future is equally great. We cannot overlook the will and contribution of our citizens living abroad, as we are all part of the same nation. The fact that the fifth part of the citizens who exercise their right to vote, is currently living abroad, should not become a tragedy of Romania and it will not become, on one condition only: if we know to keep in touch with them, to take into account what they expect from us, if we know to bring home those who desire to return and to persuade to remain home the citizens who would rather build their future elsewhere provided they want and care for the future of their country of origin. First of all, it is important to comprehend the cause of this unprecedented migration, it is not only about incomes, it is also about the respect of state and institutions for the citizen, which Romanians did not feel many times in the last 30 years, it is about the educational opportunities provided by the educational system in Romania, the quality of healthcare services, career opportunities in the economy and in other areas of activity in society. The Diaspora’s involvement in the Romanian political life is a clear signal of their willingness to contribute to the country’s progress, and this desire obliges us to respond to it properly. Romanians abroad are an asset, no matter where they are, a part of our society towards whom the Romanian state must be responsible, just as it should be responsible to all Romanians living in the country. A responsible state in the relationship with citizens is the foundation of the new unity we need, a unity that corresponds to the state and aspirations of today's Romanian society.

December, the first month of winter turned out to be a hot month in our history. It was so 101 years ago, how could we forget? – it was so 30 years ago when the Romanian society demonstrated again its courage, solidarity in breaking free from a criminal regime that separated us from our past and traditions, from the ideal of democracy and the European civilization to which we actually belong. If by popular action, culminating with the Great Assembly in Alba Iulia, December 1918 marked the beginning of Greater Romania, through a popular uprising, in December 1989, the Romanian state got to be rebuilt, based on the people’s will, who wants it to be democratic and European. However, we have not fulfilled all the hopes of that month of December 30 years ago. We are part of the European Union now, we are part of the most important military alliance of the democratic states, our democracy has made significant progress, but our economy and society did not progress as much as we would have liked. In those 30 years, a new generation matured, a generation that has new expectations from us and new exigencies to which we need to find the right answers, or we risk to lose it. For this generation was born in freedom, in democracy, it is a European generation, more free and more mobile than all the other ones we had in the past century

The tensions between generations are a reality, not only in Romania but in contemporary Europe, and in our case the problem is aggravated by the phenomenon of migration and especially by the lack of confidence of the young people in the capacity of the institutions and political leaders to bring Romania where each of them expects it to be.

The modernization of the state, building trust in the management of public affairs is the path we need to follow in order for the country that we inherited from those who achieved the Great Union, to be able to cope with the new challenges.

A legislative and institutional framework, public policies that guarantee people’s rights, which will encourage investments and development and stimulate and support the creative, talented, hard-working ones, while offering at the same time to the more vulnerable the support they need, can only lead not just to the rebirth of trust in the future that each citizen can have in Romania, but also in strengthening our country’s position in Europe and in the world. We cannot accept any backsteps in our European commitment, and the Romanian society showed an exemplary capacity of mobilization in the European and presidential elections when it comes to defending our belonging to the EU

One hundred years ago, in August 1919, Ionel Brătianu, accompanied by Ion Inculeț, met in Sibiu the leaders of the Transylvanian Romanians, among them Iuliu Maniu, and spoke to them about their common responsibilities in the construction of the new country, but also about the justified pride they need to feel for the achievements already accomplished: Ionel Brătianu said: “Modesty is good, but a people must have a clear conscience about what they represent in order to have a clear conscience about what they have to represent ". We can say the same words to those who show their scepticism about Romania. We must not forget that this society gave after 1989, as the forefathers had done a century ago, repeatedly proofs of courage, maturity and every time we were in difficult situations, it rallied to put Romania back on the right track. After it officially became a member of the European Union in 2007, Romania did not depart from this commitment, and when some political forces tried to weaken it, the society defended it in the street and at the vote. Let us also not forget to be proud of the fact that the Romanian electorate did not give place to the political extremism, xenophobia and intolerance that have progressed in other countries. It is a reality that gives us the full right to assert that Romania's presence in Europe makes us stronger, but it also makes Europe stronger. We are dutybound to defend this reality, because it coagulates the unity of today’s Romania: between society and its elites, between Romanians home and Romanians living abroad, between the present and future generations, between Romanians and the other Europeans.

Happy birthday, Romania!

Happy birthday, dear Romanians home and abroad!



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