Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have the great pleasure to welcome you all at the 14th Inter-Parliamentary Conference for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy of the European Union, organized this semester under the auspices of the Parliamentary Dimension of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council.
Endeavouring to promote a Common Foreign and Security Policy seems to have become a rather lofty ideal in the present global setting characterized by a web of interconnected problems that bring forth a fragmented set of reactions from countries, according to their size, budget, defence preparedness, energy sufficiency or geographical location. Pursuing sovereign national interests by engaging in own alliances or profitable contracts - for securing the energy supply or more advanced weapon systems, for instance - and at the same time taking steps as a union of states in relation with third parties so as to ensure security and prosperity for all its members, is an equation that requires most of all, in my opinion, cohesion and solidarity rooted in a shared vision for the future.
Unfortunately, a perception is creeping in that this vision is gradually losing coherence and the policies painstakingly put in place to support it start losing their sense of purpose in the aftermath of several recent crises that have shaken our societies. There was the European sovereign debt crisis ignited in 2009, the refugee crisis in Europe that boiled over in 2015, and the Brexit crisis, thrown into the open European arena in 2016. I should add to this list, in a similar category of equally upsetting effects, the challenge of legitimacy of the current European Commission as a result, on the one hand, of its understanding regarding the purpose and function of article 7 of the EU Treaty, and of its own role as the politically mandated arm of the EU in relation with the governments of Hungary and Poland. On the other hand, this challenge of legitimacy is also fueled by Commissionߴs procrastination in relation with Romania and Bulgaria to sign off and lift the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism that undermines their full membership in the Union for the past 12 years, since accession, in 2007.
More often than not, crises and challenges that do not receive proper responses produce cleavages or deepen existing fragmentation, deeply affecting the awareness of the value solidarity and cohesion ought to be afforded so as to hold the Union together. We are called as members of Parliaments across the EU to find solutions that will enable the recalibration of the European political construct, and at the same time we should strive for a common foreign policy that is upheld by the conviction of having a common destiny based on shared values between the East and West, and between the South and the North. A two speed or multispeed Europe would most likely add extra burdens on the way towards consensus.
Beyond any doubt, crises and challenges that require an EU common response will continue to present themselves in this international milieu characterized by protectionism and hegemonic predispositions that counter-balance an indecisive multipolarism. We therefore need to avoid disunity on the â€śhome frontâ€ť in order to be able to build the much-needed consensus for a solid and unanimous stance that is required for being influent in matters of foreign policy as the EU is in trade, connectivity or other sectoral domains of cooperation with our external partners.
The suspension of the Intermediate range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty confronts us with the unwelcome perspective of a new nuclear arms race in Europe. The withdrawal of the United States from the Iran Nuclear Deal, the response on the Eastern flank to the threats emerging after the annexation of Crimea are, to mention only a few, current challenges to the Common Foreign and Security Policy. We, in Europe, need to stand firmly united and protect the gains of peace achieved after the last two wars: World War II and the Cold War.
The Black Sea region is one of the most critical regions for EU security, for which reason the European institutions need to increase visibility of this region in policies and build a more articulated regional approach. In this regard, we are concerned about the militarization of the Sea of Azov, as aggression and violation of international law undermine the security of the whole region.
Romania has been acting consistently to positively influence the path of the Republic of Moldova towards accession to the European Union, both by supporting their national efforts to bring the institutions from Chișinău at European standards, as well as by strengthening the cultural, social and economic interconnections. The close and beneficial relation built between the EU with the Republic of Moldova should not become a victim of recent evolutions. It is important that the Group of Friends of the Republic of Moldova should continue to be active in the evolving political context after the elections, and seek to build trust with the resulting executive in Chișinău - for the benefit of strengthening the democratic mechanisms and institutions, for building a pro-European society in EUߴs immediate neighborhood.
Cyber and hybrid warfare are also important challenges that we need to address together and prepare appropriate responses through our Common Security and Defence Policy. In our respective Parliaments we need to promote legislative frameworks that guide towards the development of resilient societies, especially in frontline states, and we need at the same time to be more decisive actors in our Eastern and Southern neighborhood, ensuring that our partners are well equipped with the means to spread and defend democracy, freedom and human dignity.
We commend the determination, the perseverance and the courage demonstrated by political and civic actors, leading to the implementation of the Prespa Agreement as a major building block for peace and stability in the South Eastern Europe. We urge decision-makers across the region to build upon the positive momentum to resolve other long-standing disputes, notably through the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue facilitated by the EU. We should reconfirm loud and clear the Unionߴs enduring engagement for lasting internal and external reconciliation, as prerequisites for EU accession, and urge the countries of the Western Balkans to overcome remaining differences.
Esteemed colleagues, I should conclude now my welcoming remarks by wishing you to enjoy your stay in Bucharest and to have fruitful debates. We are glad to have you here as our guests and to work together for the future of the European project.