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In the year of the 100th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Portugal and Romania, The Democrat interview the Ambassador of Romania in Portugal, Ioana Bivolaru about the cooperation and the last developmens of european politics after the results in french elections.

Which are the main areas of cooperation between Portugal and Romania?

First of all, we have to characterize in general these bilateral relations as excellent. We are celebrating 100 years of diplomatic relations. We have common approach and good activity in European Union, NATO and United Nations. One particular issue is the relation in the field of defense and security. Romania is the only country that Portugal has an action plan in the field of defense in Centre and Eastern Europe. This is something very important. In terms of economical relations, this is the best year of our economic trade. Basically, trade between our countries is quite better. It is important to talk about the Romanian community in Portugal and culture relations. There are a lot of affinities and similarities. Romania has a continuous presence here with famous artists. Romanian people are well integrated.

What were the main moments of relations between Portugal and Romania in this 100 years?

Romania was the first country to recognize the Portuguese authorities after the revolution. We had state visits at the highest level, and were very happy after Portugal became supporter of Romania accession to European Union and NATO.  At this moment, the relations between two countries are at the peak in terms of political, economic and cultural.

In what situations can relations improve?

There´s room for improving in terms of investment and trade. The main sectors of Portuguese investment in Romania are energy, automobile and agriculture. There is potential for economic development, especially intensified by the bilateral trade. In the Embassy, we are trying to facilitate contact between stakeholders. In July will be created seven direct flights from Lisbon to Bucharest operated by TAP and cultural events will be held to promote Romanian artists. I want to Portugal be aware of modern Romania and present a creative and beautiful image of the country.

What were the benefits of the accession of Romania to the European Union?

Doubling the GDP, improving the economical structures, unemployment rate is around 6%, profits increased 54%, minimum wage also raised a lot, access of Romanian products to the European market and also the free movement of people without barriers. The most important thing is related to belonging the same family. Romania has one of the most economic growths in the European Union with 4%.

What are the main concerns of Portugal and Romania inside European Union?

I consider that 2017 is a very important year in terms of future of Europe. Portugal and Romania want to maintain the cohesion policy in the European Union. Both countries are promoting and creating industries and innovative solutions. We are medium countries inside European institutions that share common goals. Security is one of the challenges that we have to approach.

What should be the final agreement between United Kingdom and European Union?

Romania and Portugal have similar positions in this issue. Considering the importance of United Kingdom, it is necessary to continue the cooperation with them, but at the same time look to the protection of European Union citizens.

European Union is the most important instrument to maintain stability in Europe?

It depends on how you look and what do mean to keep peace in the continent because there is hard-power and soft power. In terms of soft-power is the most appropriate instrument. The European Union is relevant for restoring some things that aren´t function in the right way. It´s important to have good faith and trust in the European Union members and being engage in the positive way. In my personal opinion, is necessary to have more positive stories about the European Union.

What is the importance of regional blocs?

It is a characteristic of the European Union to have these ad-hoc alliances in accordance with certain interests. They are not permanent, but very flexible.

Populism movements lost strength after elections in France?

Populism is not over but it is a very good sign what happened in France, Austria and in the Netherlands elections. Portugal and Romania work together to maintain tolerance as a response to rise of populism and extremism in European Union.

The Enlargement process should continue to the Balkan countries?

The European Union continues to have strong attraction for the countries that are in the process. These countries need to consolidate the democracy, the rule of law and improving the economic conditions. This is the only way to having peace in the European Union. Romania is in favor of enlargement process but the countries should fulfill the Copenhagen criteria established in 1993.