The US Attorney General has invited Romanian justice minister Ana Birchall to work together on an "advisory road map as to what the US believes are appropriate provisions and measures to take in legislation and in executive orders to ensure a strong and consistent rule of law" in the East European country. The statement was made by Godron Sondland, the US Ambassador to the EU, who just visited Romania just after meeting with newly chosen EU leaders and hailed a "reset" in US-EU relations.
When prompted on the stance of the US, under President Trump, on rule of law in Eastern European countries, Sondland said in a press conference in Bucharest on Thursday:
- The US is very concerned about rule of law. For not just the obvious reasons - you can't have a civil society without rule of law. It's very difficult to create an (...) investment climate in any country where those who put capital at risk don't know what the rules are or, even more importantly, if the rules today will change tomorrow after you've risked your capital. So rule of law is critical.
- A great example of our concern with rule of law is that our Attorney General recently invited your Justice minister - which was one of the reasons I am here, to meet her as a follow-up to the invitation - to come to the US and to continue to work with him and his team directly on a roadmap he has helped create for Romania. An advisory road map as to what the US believes are appropriate provisions and measures to take in legislation and in executive orders to ensure a strong and consistent rule of law.
His statement came as Attorney General William Barr in August invited Birchall to Washington just as Romania's PM Viorica Dancila was about to replace the minister with a more controversial personality in a government reshuffle.
Ambassador Sondland was in Bucharest for talks with President Iohannis, PM Dancila and minister Birchall.
Prompted during the press conference about Huawei technologies that might be considered in EU countries for 5G services, he pointed out to a memorandum of understanding signed by Romania in Washington last month:
- Romania just signed a memorandum of understanding with the US just before President Iohannis met with President Trump. And the goal under that MoU is for Romania to become, I should say, Huawei-free. We want our friends and allies to use any kind of equipment they want to use in their 5G as long as it's compliant with their standards of government, which does not include information sharing with host governments, does not include malign activities and a whole host of things which we obviously opposed. I think Romania has taken a very sober look at their future 5G technology and has decided that Chinese technology is not the way to go and we applaud that. (...) Romanians are actively engaged into looking elsewhere for their 5G technology and we are very supportive of those moves.
Asked even about the interest of the Chinese of investing in Romania's only nuclear plant in Cernavoda, on Danube river, he said: "We are encouraging our friends and allies to look elsewhere for all of their needs, not only 5G."
Ambassador Sondland on Nord Stream 2:
- Romania shares our concerns and Romania is far more effective than we are because Romania is here and we are there. Nord Stream 2 is a device that can be used by the Russians to create both undue political influence on those who are dependent on their gas and also to weaponize potentially - if you turn off the gas and it's freezing outside, it can threaten your life. There is no subtle way to put it. Russia has a history, it has done that before, it's no theory. So we want Europe to be energy independent, to have multiple sources of energy. A cynic would say this is just a move by the US to sell more US gas to Europe. Of course US wants to sell more gas to Europe, but that is not our priority. If you are buying gas from any other source that was long term, dependable and was not politically motivated, just purely market based economics and US would not be a major player, we would be disappointed. But that is not our reason for opposing Nord Stream 2.
- Anything that can be done to stop or slow down the project, we will do.