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Secretary Antony J. Blinken And Romanian Foreign Minister Luminita Odobescu At the Signing of a Memorandum of Understanding

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Please be seated.  Good morning, everyone.  It’s a great pleasure to have you all here and especially to have my friend, the foreign minister, here as I think powerful evidence of the strong partnership between the United States and Romania.

We’re, of course, Allies in NATO and leaders in an Alliance that is stronger, bigger, more fit for purpose than it’s ever been.  Romania has played a critical role in making sure that the Alliance is focused everywhere it needs to be focused, including on our eastern flank.  And we’re grateful for that.  I’m particularly grateful for President Iohannis and his leadership and making sure the Alliance is appropriately focused.

Of course, we’ve also stood very strongly together in defense of Ukraine and against the ongoing Russian aggression.  And here, what Romania has done from day one in making sure that Ukraine had the support that it needs to fend that off – fend off that aggression is quite remarkable.  And that’s continued to this very day, including with the donation of a new Patriot air defense system – something that is in critical need in Ukraine – and we are very grateful for that.

We’ve also worked very closely together on Black Sea security, and this, too, is an area where Romania has brought critical focus to the Alliance, to a number of countries.  The work that’s been done to ensure that food products – grain, wheat – could continue to get out of Ukraine and feed the world as it did before February of 2022 has been critical, and this, too, is an area where we will continue to work very closely together.

We’re also working together to advance progress in the energy sector.  Romania is a leader in civil nuclear cooperation, and the work that we’re doing together – indeed pioneering together – I think will be critical, not just to the United States and Romania but quite literally to the world as we advance new technologies, including small modular reactors.

We are coming together as well today for our Strategic Dialogue.  We’ve now had over 25 years of strategic partnership.  One of the hallmarks of the partnership, both through the Alliance and bilaterally, is making sure that we continue to adapt and adjust to new challenges as they arise.  And one of the most critical challenges that we face together and that all Allies face – and, indeed, countries in other parts of the world face – is misinformation and disinformation, a tool that’s been increasingly weaponized, particularly by Russia as it seeks to advance its interests.

Just recently, thanks to very good work that we were able to do with Canada, the United Kingdom, we exposed a plot in Moldova with using misinformation, disinformation by Russia to try to overthrow the government.  And one of the most important things that partner countries can do is to work together, both to share information about misinformation and disinformation, to share best practices, and to combine forces to combat it.

Over the last year or so, we’ve established a very important framework for doing just that.  And we’re about to sign an agreement of cooperation on misinformation and disinformation.  Romania will be the 19th country to sign this framework.  There is great power in this collaboration, because this is something that we all have a challenge with.  The more we’re able to put our resources, our information, and our actions together, the more effective we’re going to be in combatting it.

So I look forward to signing the agreement in a minute, but first let me turn it – Luminita, let me turn it over to you.  Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER ODOBESCU:  Mr. Secretary, dear Tony, thank you for the invitation to the State Department and for your kind words.  The strategic partnership between Romania and the United States is stronger than ever following the meeting between our presidents last month and ahead of the ninth round of the Strategic Dialogue between Romania and the United States.

We will focus our dialogue today on security in our region, preparation for the Washington summit, energy cooperation, and trade and investment.  We will also address the admission of Romania into the visa waiver program.  We have to continue our work for this common objective, as the Romanian citizens expect us to finalize this process soon.

As we meet today, Russia and its neighbors continue to undermine the security of the Black Sea regions, a region of strategic importance for NATO.  The Black Sea is a geopolitical inflection point.  Together with the EU and NATO, the U.S. remains an essential partner for a secure, prosperous, free, and connected Black Sea region.  I look forward to our work on further developing our cooperation in support of this joint objective.

As you know, Romania will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes, ranging from the transit of grains to military support.  Yesterday’s decision speaks for itself.  We express our appreciation for the continued leadership of the United States in supporting Ukraine and therefore European security.

At the same time, we continue to count on your active engagement in strengthening the defense and deterrence on the eastern flank, including at the Black Sea.  In a few weeks, the NATO summit in Washington will provide an excellent opportunity to adopt meaningful decision in this respect.

As you said, we are also fighting a hybrid war.  As this says, the Memorandum for Understanding we are signing today expands our voluntary cooperation.  It signals our common commitment to work together against state information manipulation, to counteract state-led misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda efforts.  It is founded on the clear and shared values between Romania and the United States, including respect for democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms.

Mr. Secretary, dear colleagues today in the Black Sea region, Romania is and will remain your closest and most reliable Ally and partner.  I’m looking forward to our discussion.  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thanks very much.

(The memorandum was signed.)

MODERATOR:  Today U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Romania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Luminita Odobescu are signing a Memorandum of Understanding to Strengthen Cooperation between the United States and Romania on Countering Foreign State Information Manipulation.  In shared recognition of the threat of foreign disinformation, the United States and Romania intend to expand bilateral cooperation and align government policies along the five key action areas established by the U.S. Department of State’s Framework to Counter Foreign State Information Manipulation.  This expanded cooperation will help to ensure a free, open, and fact-based global information environment.

(Applause.)

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Our work is done.  (Laughter.)

Official news published at https://www.state.gov/secretary-antony-j-blinken-and-romanian-foreign-minister-luminita-odobescu-at-the-signing-of-a-memorandum-of-understanding/

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