Romania and Denmark – Beyond a Century of Diplomatic Relations
Romania and Denmark can look back on a long and successful cooperation. Since the decision of the Ion I. C. Brătianu Government to establish a Romanian diplomatic office in Copenhagen more than 100 years ago, bilateral relations have reached a level of excellence characterised by a constantly growing political dialogue, increasing economic exchanges, fruitful cooperation in various fields such as culture and science, and people-to-people contacts. It is both challenging and exciting to contribute, in my capacity, to building ever closer relations on this solid foundation, beyond the traditional areas of collaboration, and to diversify our cooperation.
In the past century, Romania and Denmark have succeeded in substantially strengthening relations at a bilateral level and within the international framework. At the anniversary of the centennial of Romanian-Danish diplomatic relations, celebrated in 2017, the two countries worked together as EU and NATO allies. Common positions and interests on Brexit, Eastern Partnership, the refugee crisis in Europe and the focus on NATO’s Eastern flank are only few of the areas which testify to our bilateral rapprochement. Our excellent ties are further enhanced by diplomatic and political contacts.
At the same time, traditionally, Romania has also been a reliable economic partner for Denmark. After 100 years, the value of bilateral trade has reached almost half a billion euro, and I believe that there is still great potential to capitalize on. Specifically, our exports increased by 8% in 2017 relative to the 2016 figures, reaching the value of EUR 223 million (in the first ten months of the year). The Danish market, one of the most business-friendly in the world, is now becoming more and more attractive to Romanian entrepreneurs. Simultaneously, we are experiencing an increasing interest from the Danish business sector towards Romania, given the success stories offered by many of the over 900 companies operating on the Romanian market. Looking ahead, I envisage stimulating an ever larger share of Romanian companies on the Danish market, ensuring constant presence in international fairs hosted by Denmark, and facilitating the development of the Romanian start-up sector in this Scandinavian country. Particular areas of interest are tourism, IT, research and innovation.
On the cultural front, we witness an ascending trajectory with respect to the interest of the general Danish public for our heritage. Many Danes became more and more acquainted with our history, social perspectives and culture by watching movies of Romania’s New Wave of Cinema or admiring the works of contemporary Romanian artists displayed in the prestigious Arken Museum of Contemporary Art in Ishøj, Copenhagen. Nevertheless, the focus remains on creating longstanding affinities for our culture and projecting an impartial, correct image of Romania in Denmark. To that end, in 2017 specifically, we made use of all the local opportunities to promote our heritage, e.g. theater performances and painting exhibitions in the program of Aarhus European Capital of Culture, and created new avenues to highlight our creativity (encounters with renowned Romanian artists in the Danish capital: Cristian Mungiu, Florin Piersic etc.). In our efforts to reach out to the general public, we also partnered with the biggest English newspaper in Denmark, Copenhagen Post, to issue a supplement dedicated to Romania in the context of the anniversary of our bilateral relations.
Besides the massive potential for economic and cultural cooperation, another area of great interest is the significant Romanian community living in Denmark consisting of more than 30.000 nationals - students, researchers and lecturers, IT engineers and Romanians active in agriculture, tourism and services sectors. They represent a well-integrated group within Danish society and I am very pleased to say that we have Romanians working in leading companies such Lego, Novo Nordisk and Danfoss.
People-to-people contacts have developed along an ascending trend, with immense spillover effects due to increased number of flight connections between the two countries, economic partnerships, research collaborations and a consolidated cultural presence of Romania in Denmark. I am pleased to witness the public and media’s interest in the tourism opportunities offered by Romania, a positive development strongly facilitated by the presence of Romanian nationals in Denmark.
The previous year, marking a significant milestone in our bilateral relations, is but a promising start to an important period for our cooperation with our Danish partners. Celebrating the Centennial of the Great Union of Romania in 2018 and assuming the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2019 offer Romania a unique chance to leverage the success in promoting our heritage and economic opportunities for a consolidated presence in the Danish institutional, economic and cultural life.
Bearing in mind the long history of our bilateral relations and the friendship existing between the two countries, I am certain that we have all the prerequisites for further deepening this relationship and bringing it to a higher level in the next century.