Global Times | 2013-10-21
By Bai Tiantian
Romania is looking forward to stepping up both political dialogue and economic cooperation with China, said Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta.
In an interview with the Global Times over a Chinese National Day banquet at the Chinese Embassy in Bucharest, Romania, Ponta said Romania values its friendship with China and as the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations approaches, both countries should not only reflect upon the progress they have made, but also look for the opportunities ahead.
"Our message is clear - we want to continue this long relationship between our two countries and we want not only to step up the political dialogue with the People's Republic of China, but also to increase the intensity of our economic cooperation," said Ponta.
Romania is one of the first countries that established diplomatic relations with China and 2014 also marks the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Friendship and Cooperation Partnership between the two countries.
In a previous interview, Ponta said he has a relationship of respect and friendship to China and has visited the country many times. In his latest visit in July this year, Ponta attended the Local Leaders' Meeting between China and Central and Eastern European (CEE) Countries in Chongqing.
Ponta said China has become increasingly important as a global player and Romania, as a member of the EU and a border country of the CEE, could act as the gateway for China to the region.
Ponta also said Romania is keen on attracting Chinese investors in areas such as agriculture and energy, adding that the country also has a lot of potential in bio-products, a sector that has been growing significantly in Western Europe.
When asked whether Romania is shifting away from renewable energy as the government proposed cutting back on incentives for green energy projects this year, Ponta insisted that the government needs to maintain the balance between attracting foreign investment and controlling energy prices.
"Romania is interested in ensuring its energy independence and any foreign investor is welcome to come here," said Ponta, "At the same time, as a left-wing party, we are committed to promoting social inclusion and combating poverty. Ensuring fair energy prices for a large part of the consumers in Romania should not be disregarded."
Ponta also talked about a recent protest against a Canadian company's plan to open Europe's largest gold mine in Romania.
Thousands of people have marched against the project at Rosia Montana since September, citing environmental concerns due to use of cyanides. The march has become one of the longest-running protests in Romania over past decades.
Ponta said that he sees the protests as proof of Romania's vibrant democratic system and that politicians should weigh opinions from both opponents and supporters. However, he stressed the importance of attracting foreign investment to maintain economic growth.
"This government has undertaken a clear objective - to return Romania to economic growth and to create jobs," said Ponta, adding that all projects undertaken in Romania must comply with the European standards in terms of environmental protection.