Marcel Ciolacu, PSD president: We live in a time when Europe, as a whole, is experiencing the economic and social effects of the bloody war in Ukraine. We are seeing unprecedented high prices in all European countries – for energy, gas and electricity, as well as rising food prices – which are fuelling inflation. We witness massive disruptions in regional and international supply chains affecting key industries. World trade in cereals is seriously unbalanced, prompting UN experts to warn of global food risks.
One of the priorities of the Government is to protect the population and the economy using all available budgetary resources, and, next week, we will release a solid package of economic and social measures, amounting about 17.5 billion Lei, designed to support both Romanians and local companies to overcome this difficult period.
An equally important national objective is for Romania to limit the risks posed by the current situation and to identify solutions to turn these challenges into long-term opportunities, in the benefit of our citizens. These are steps that the Romanian state must take firmly and, equally, wisely and strategically. Romania has already demonstrated that it can play significant role at regional level, by operationalizing the humanitarian support hub for Ukraine in Suceava County, with European support, where aid arrives from all over the world. This is a concrete action, which offers us the horizon of a new phase for Romania’s role at regional level.
Our country has proven both politically and through the solidarity reaction of society and the emotional mobilization of Romanians in support of Ukrainian refugees, that it is qualified to become one of the main actors to coordinate the reconstruction of Ukraine using European resources and all the other major projects to be funded by US strategic partners. We can contribute both with the Port of Constanta (already used for grain exports to the neighboring countries, as the Kyiv government cannot use its ports on the Black Sea), whose importance is now becoming strategic for Europe, as well with our road and railway infrastructure, which must benefit massively from European investments for modernization.
It is widely acknowledged that Romania plays a vital strategic role in Eastern Europe and in the Black Sea region. Therefore, we must further strengthen our geostrategic role. Our vision for a new country project must rely on our country transformation into a regional hub that provides security and development, along with Ukraine’s reconstruction. These must be the first major steps we ought to be present and involved in as a frontline state.
We have all listened to President Zelensky, addressing the reunited chambers of the Parliament in Bucharest, expressing his confidence that Romania and Romanian companies will contribute to programs to rebuild Ukraine after the war. It is both a genuine duty of a good neighbor state, and a considerable economic opportunity. Therefore, Romania must advocate with determination that the Fund for the Reconstruction of Ukraine, which in all likelihood, will consist of voluntary contributions, mostly on the EU-US axis, to be coordinated with the consistent contribution of the states in the region.
We are practically talking about the equivalent of a new Marshall Plan for the restoration of Ukraine’s infrastructure and economy, amounting hundreds of billions of Euros! Beyond the financial volume, it’s important that this reconstruction to be performed in connection with our country. Romania, through our state-owned and private companies, can and must participate in major projects for the reconstruction of Ukrainian cities, ports or factories. We have the necessary expertise, qualified human resources and we have the best political and geo-strategic position to be a key player in this regard.
We have already discussed these issues with several colleagues from the Social Democratic Party and we will propose concrete solutions to the Government so that Romania can play its chances as efficiently as possible. We propound the establishment of a Permanent Economic Mission of Romania in Ukraine, with representative offices in each relevant region, to initiate and develop dialogue with the national and local authorities of the neighboring state about the country’s reconstruction priorities. Furthermore, we can involve in these efforts the International Development Cooperation Agency within the MFA, which will be funded to complete the accreditation at European level and coordinate the humanitarian and development cooperation assistance (or at least part of it) provided by the EU.
In addition, the members of the PSD European Parliament delegation also offered me many other details about concrete European instruments in which our country needs to be strongly involved. My colleagues have the expertise and ability to help Romania play this essential regional role. For instance, Romania could request to be involved in the temporary coordination of funds allocated to Ukraine through the European Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace, a financial mechanism that finances all EU external actions with military or defense implications, in the fields of foreign policy and collective security. Likewise, also extremely important are the coordinated plans with the authorities of the Republic of Moldova, as a regional partnership that must persist as a constant of our diplomacy.
Obviously, one of the major lessons of this crisis is the urgency to achieve our energy independence. No one in Europe wants to live under the spectre of gas-cutting blackmail, cynically practiced by Vladimir Putin. Therefore, we will promote in the Romanian Parliament, without delay, a new draft of the Offshore Act that will allow the kick-off of the exploitation of Black Sea gas in a fiscal framework convenient for both the Romanian state and investors.
We must remember the words of a leader who sailed his country through the tumult of the greatest conflagration in the last hundred years. „Never let a good crisis go to waste,” said Winston Churchill on the eve of end of World War II. His words have since inspired generations of leaders to seek an advantage during a crisis and to discover opportunities that may not have existed before.
We have a duty to find and use these opportunities for Romania. History will not forgive us if we do not at least try!
That is why we need to be involved in the reconstruction of Ukraine – a project funded by Europe, the USA, Canada and other major countries, in which Romania will resolutely assume the role of regional leader!