Looking forward to resuming good pragmatic relations with Romania, Valery Kuzmin, the Russian Ambassador to Romania, shares his analysis of the current situation and possible future scenarios in bilateral cooperation.
European Times: As a diplomat with a career spanning four decades, what is your view on the current relations between Russia and Romania?
Valery Kuzmin: We have a long history of friendly bilateral ties. We have faced some challenges in the mutual trade due to the fall of global oil and gas prices and the recent international tensions in the region, but there is a hope of resumption of both political and diplomatic dialogue and wider economic cooperation. We are working to improve the commercial turnover which is around US $3 billion. Another expert panel discussion between the deputy co-chairs of the intergovernmental commission for economic, scientific and technical cooperation, to discuss and refine our collaboration, is planned for the near future. In the meantime we expect the exchange of parliamentary and other high-level delegations which will enhance mutual understanding between our countries.
European Times: How do you view the prospects of European integration of Romania’s neighbours?
Valery Kuzmin: Our strategic approach in all cases is that we respect the free will and the decision of any nation that is taken independently. Romania has made the decision to join EU and to join NATO. Russia insists that there shouldn’t be any control or antagonism between the integration processes that take place in the Eurasian space, seeking positive synergies between integration projects and trends, based on the respect of mutual interests. For 18 years, we have negotiated the terms of joining the World Trade Organization and have managed to achieve free trade cooperation. Since we have no free trade zones with the EU, we would not like to see, for example, Ukraine or Moldova becoming black holes in trade relations with the states of Euro-Asian Economic Union, as far as they still have free trade regime with them in the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The so-called “EU sanctions against Russia” are limited to certain sectors and investors should be informed about a realistic and pragmatic analysis of the situation.
European Times: Which areas have mostly benefited from Russian investments?
Valery Kuzmin: Our relations show that prospective investors could find a favourable environment here. Russia is a reliable energy supplier. There are large Russian investments here like Lukoil and TMK. Lukoil has made massive investments, such as the Petrotel refinery in Ploiesti, with an annual capacity of around 2.5 million tonnes which is accredited to top European standards. The pipes and metal company TMK which operates in Resita and Slatina, has also invested hundreds of millions of dollars. There are many avenues for cooperation, and we will work hard to explore them, given mutual respect for each other’s legitimate interest.