Reconstruct Ukraine and the Strategic Roles of Romania, Day 1 – Panel Va&Vb and VI

The debate continues with more panels at the “Reconstruct Ukraine and the Strategic Roles of Romania” conference.

Panel Va. Energy Opportunities in the North-Western Black Sea Area

The panel was chaired by Mr. Laurențiu PACHIU, Vice-President, Energy Policy Group, Romania, who was joined by H.E. Sebastian BURDUJA, Minister of Energy, Romania (via VTC), H.E. Victor PARLICOV, Minister of Energy, Republic of Moldova (pre-recorded message), H.E. Geoffrey PYATT, Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources, former US Ambassador to Ukraine, USA (pre-recorded message), Mr. Petro KOTIN, Chairman, Energoatom, Ukraine (via VTC) and Mr. Bogdan BERNEAGA, Senior Associate Expert, New Strategy Center, Romania.

Recently, energy has become a key element in the regional geopolitical dynamics, given its use by the Russian Federation as a tool for pressure and blackmail. In this context, Romania has significant potential to become a pillar of stability in the energy domain, exemplified by the Neptune Deep project, which will position Romania as Europe’s largest natural gas producer since 2027. Investments in transport and distribution infrastructure are crucial to facilitate the export of energy resources to Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, especially considering the substantial damage to Ukraine’s energy infrastructure following Russian attacks. Simultaneously, the reconstruction of Ukraine’s energy system will also contribute to ensuring the energy security of the Republic of Moldova.

Panel Vb. The Danube: Role for Ukraine’s Reconstruction Process

The discussion was moderated by Mr. Sabin ORCAN, Editorial Director, Newsweek Romania, Romania, with speakers Mr. Vladyslav BIELAKH, Deputy General Manager for Economics and Finance, Ukrainian Danube Shipping Company (UDP), Ukraine, Mrs. Angela IVAN, General Director, River Administration of the Lower Danube, Romania, Mr. Paul IVANOV, CEO Trading Line, Romania, Mr. Viktor BERESTENKO, President, Association of International Freight Forwarders, Ukraine.

The Danube’s importance for supply routes in the region has increased significantly with the outbreak of Russia’s war against Ukraine. According to Romanian authorities, all efforts have been made to ensure the smooth transport of ships on the Danube, and the river shows its capacity and relevance in the region. At the same time, Ukrainian transport companies on the Danube are showing a steady increase in the volume of products delivered. Grain accounts for a significant share of those deliveries, but there is an increase in the share of mining, oil, and metal products.

The importance of intensifying cooperation between Ukrainian and Romanian maritime and inland waterway transport companies has been stressed, especially in terms of joint development of port infrastructure. At the same time, the Danube River transport companies noted the problems faced by this logistic flow, such as the increased waiting time for customs control and the uncertainty of the long-term prospects of this alternative route, as companies make risky investments in this area. Thus, there is a high possibility that once the Odesa port is reopened at total capacity, the transport of goods on the Danube will be abandoned.

Panel VI. Romania’s contribution to support Ukraine. Is it the beginning of a beautiful friendship?

The last panel of the first day, “Romania’s contribution to support Ukraine. Is it the beginning of a beautiful friendship?” was chaired by Ambassador Sorin DUCARU, Honorary Chairman of the Scientific Council, New Strategy Center; Director, European Union Satellite Centre, Romania, whom Mr. Iulian FOTA, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Romania and Mr. Ionel SCRIOȘTEANU, State Secretary, Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, Romania joined.

During the discussion, participants underscored the importance of the relationship between Romania and Ukraine. The year 2023 was highlighted as a pivotal moment in this bilateral relationship, marked by notable events such as a joint session between the two countries’ governments. At this juncture, the aim is to transform the bilateral relationship into a long-term strategic partnership. Since the onset of the Russian invasion in February 2022, Romania has successfully managed refugee and cargo flows, with its initiatives positively impacting the Republic of Moldova. European-funded projects have been implemented to strengthen solidarity lines with Ukraine. Additionally, two new border crossings with Ukraine and one with the Republic of Moldova have been opened, while plans include opening eight more border crossings to facilitate trade. Romania holds high expectations for the involvement of Western partners, as Ukraine’s security is essential for protecting Romania and all states in the Euro-Atlantic region.