the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

Search form

The White House
Office of the Vice President

Remarks by vice President Joe Biden and Romanian President Traian Basescu in a Joint Press Statement

Cotroceni Palace
Bucharest, Romania

11:10 A.M. (Local)

PRESIDENT BASESCU: (As interpreted) Good afternoon.  Welcome to Cotroceni Palace.

Today we had a meeting, which is extremely important, with Mr. Vice President Joe Biden, a meeting in which we have discussed the main topics on our bilateral agenda and also on the regional agenda. 

I can say that after Romania joined NATO and the Europe Union, the strategic partnership for the 21st century that we have pinned down with the U.S. is the third major political achievement after the December revolution.  We welcome the firm commitment of the U.S. for the fifth article of the NATO Treaty.

We have also discussed about the need to consolidate the rule of law in Romania, the rule of law as a premise for progress further in achieving at the maximum level the strategic partnership we have with the U.S.

In our talks, I thanked Vice President Biden for the immediate reaction, the immediate response that the U.S. had when the conflict started in Ukraine and Crimea was illegally annexed.  The U.S. reacted by supplementing air forces, naval forces and land forces that are ready to participate in any kind of mission, particularly in a mission of discouraging Russia’s attitude, Russia’s desire to become again the USSR.  It is a reconfirmation and this time a proof to the fact that the United States of America are true to their word.

That's why the U.S. are so demanding in their relationship with Romania that we also should be true to our word and make the rule of law in Romania.

We have also discussed of the vulnerabilities created at the Black Sea, and also we have tackled the issue of the future summit of NATO.  A great weakness, vulnerability of the region, we analyzed it, and it means the energy dependence, the very high energy dependence on the Russian gas.

Last but not least, we have also reviewed the very strong rise in American investments in Romania, which created tens of thousands of jobs.  And I give an example to Mr. Vice President.  I have recently visited a large company, an American company, which is Lufkin, which opened a shop in Romania.  And the first pumps, oil pumps produced for the oil industry were actually meant for export to the U.S. 

Thank you so much.

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Well, thank you very much, Mr. President.  It’s a great pleasure to be back in Romania, particularly on such a beautiful day.  I’ve always enjoyed my visits here.

I want to thank you, Mr. President, for your candid and insightful advice, not just on this trip, but over the years, and for your commitment, as strong as it is to the transatlantic partnership. 

Every time I come to Romania, I’m impressed again at just how much progress you’ve made.  In a single generation your country has risen from tyranny to join the ranks of the world’s free nations, the European Union, and the most powerful alliance in human history, the NATO alliance.

2014 marks the 10-year anniversary since your admission to NATO.  As you’ll remember, in 1999, I tried to get you included in NATO.  If I had my way it would have been the 15th anniversary we’d be having.  But I tried to bring it about even sooner.  As a matter of fact, back in those days, Mr. President, then-President Clinton always used to kid me -- was the deal -- was I pushing so hard because I wanted NATO headquarters moved to my home constituency in Delaware.  (Laughter.) 

But I can say I had high hopes for Romania then as an ally, and every one of my hopes and expectations have been met.  And, Mr. President, thank you for proving me right about Romania’s entry into NATO.

Romanians have stood shoulder to shoulder with us in the Balkans, in Iraq and Afghanistan.  About 1,000 Tricolor troops continue to serve there -- all courage and no caveats on the battlefield; all courage, no caveats.  All in. 

And you’ve offered us a transit hub to help draw down our force in Afghanistan, and you’ve also embraced the post-2014 mission in Afghanistan; and just as you immediately embraced our phased adaptive approach to ballistic missile defenses five years ago when I came to visit with you.

And I want to reaffirm that we’re on track to open the missile defense site at Deveselu next year that will be opened.  And we encourage Romania and the leadership you begin in its efforts to bring its defense budget up to the 2 percent of GDP that NATO members have committed to.  Your supplemental funding, Mr. President, this year is a good step forward in Romania keeping that commitment to NATO.

And as we’ve talked often, Mr. President, both here in person and on the telephone, we in the United States -- the President and I -- we value our alliance with you.  It’s no longer just what we can do for Romania, it’s what we can do together.  And we’re doing a good deal together.

One of the main reasons why I came today is to stand on Romanian soil and say what cannot be said often enough.  We will honor -- we will honor Article 5 of the NATO Treaty.  It is a sacred obligation.  There should be no doubt about it.  It should not be in question.  No NATO ally stands alone.  We protect one another.  Period.  We protect one another.  Period.  End of discussion.

And, Mr. President, the aggression in Crimea, less than 250 miles from Romanian territory, reminds us of why we need NATO and why Romania belongs to NATO.

Today the President and I discussed the security of this region and the situation in Ukraine, as we have by telephone recently as well.  And we commend the Ukrainian government for the steps they have taken to ingrain -- engage Ukrainians from all parts of that country, including the east and the south on the issues of constitutional reform.  Sunday is election day in Ukraine, as it is here.  And it’s a chance for Ukrainians to decide their own future.

All countries in Europe, all countries should use their influence to promote a stable and positive environment so the Ukrainian citizens can cast their ballots freely. 

The President and I have agreed that if Russia undermines these elections on Sunday, we must remain resolute in imposing greater cost on Russia.  And we must be equally resolute in reinvesting in the NATO alliance. 

In that spirit, we spoke about the ongoing, urgent U.S. and NATO efforts to step up our military presence in Central and Eastern Europe in the air, on the ground, and at sea.  Romania is contributing to these efforts.

Last night, I visited when I landed the joint military exercises, Carpathian Spring, where Romanian and American troops are sharpening their skills and demonstrating our collective resolve.  We support the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe’s intention to finalize contingency plans for our Black Sea allies and do that at the Wales summit.  And we have assigned extra strategic planners to help NATO meet this goal when we assemble in Wales.

Of course, what’s at stake for Romania is more than its physical security.  It’s a chance for your people, Mr. President, to live lives defined by freedom, prosperity and dignity.  All three of those -- freedom, prosperity and dignity -- depend on equal treatment of citizens under the predictable rule of law.

In my travels over the years, and recently from Latin America to the Middle East to this very region of Europe, I’ve seen countries depose tyrants only to struggle to reclaim their future from the oligarchs and vested interests who remain after the tyrants have been deposed.  I’ve seen how countries that protect the rule of law and build strong institutions thrive, and those who do not do not.

As we saw in the Maidan, those who don't do these things tend to face instability.  They underperform in the global economy where jobs and investment can always go somewhere else.

This is also a matter of sovereignty and independence, and even national security, all of which are undermined when others use corruption to exercise influence in your society.  Corruption saps the collective strength and resolve of a nation.  It is merely another form of tyranny.  And fighting corruption is more than just about good government.  It’s patriotism plain and simple.

And, Mr. President, as I’ve told you on many occasions, that's why I and the President and the American people so appreciate your personal efforts to reinforce and protect the rule of law here in Romania and why it’s so important.  It’s important for your economy.  It’s important for your democracy.  And it’s important for your freedom.  And above all, it’s important for the lives of citizens who deserve to know their voices will be heard in government, that their businesses can compete fairly without bribes, that their disputes will be adjudicated transparently by a court system that is trusted, and that no Romanian -- any more than any American -- is above the law.

On so many fronts, Mr. President, there’s still important work ahead -- on trade, investment, energy security, all of which we discussed today and we’ll continue to discuss.  Mr. President, the state of our alliance is already strong in no small part because of your efforts over the years.

And I’m honored -- I’m honored to be able to make this visit and to make them even stronger.  The future should be ours -- freedom.  And, ladies and gentlemen, I want to personally tell the President I know his term will be up before mine.  I will miss him.  I will miss him.  And God bless Romania.  God bless America and may God protect our troops.

Thank you very much.

END
11:25 A.M. (Local)