James Cleverly looks to bolster relationship with Romania amid Ukraine conflict

UK Foreign Secretary aims to build on two countries' historical connections, economic ties and trading relationship

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly arrives in Downing Street for a cabinet meeting. Getty
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The British Foreign Secretary will emphasise the importance of standing shoulder to shoulder with Romania in the face of Russia’s aggression in neighbouring Ukraine on Thursday as the UK looks to bolster its partnership with the country.

Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu is in London this week to meet James Cleverly and sign a renewed strategic partnership to strengthen and maintain the two countries' historical connections, economic ties and trading relationship.

The strategic partnership was first established in 2003 and set out both countries' shared commitment to growing relations. Mr Cleverly is, according to prepared remarks, expected to acknowledge the importance of strengthening the UK's relationship with Romania in the context of the invasion of Ukraine and the security challenges facing Europe in 2023.

The two ministers will also open a joint bilateral forum at the Foreign Office in London, bringing together government and business representatives, politicians, academics and members of civil society to discuss the future of UK-Romania co-operation in a range of fields including the economy, trade, energy, civil society and education.

The forum presents an opportunity for the UK to emphasise its unwavering support for Romania and the Black Sea region, which forms a central bulwark in the UK’s defence system.

It comes after the government announced new resilience funding for Moldova this month, underlining the UK’s support for the territorial integrity of Russia’s neighbours as it helps them to address the threat on their doorstep.

“As discussions with my friend Bogdan Aurescu demonstrate, our countries could not be closer on the biggest issues affecting our nations, the whole of Europe and indeed the whole world,” Mr Cleverly is expected to say at the forum.

“We now have 1.2 million people who are able to call themselves both Romanian and British — some of which are here today — up and down the UK.

“It is absolutely right that in 2023, we refresh our ambition and confirm our commitment to work closely together in foreign policy, defence, education, science, crime-fighting, stopping human trafficking, trade and investment.”

The Foreign Secretary and Mr Aurescu will commit to collective defence through Nato, and to working together to strengthen the transatlantic relationship, with a particular view to countering Russia’s action in the Black Sea region.

Mr Cleverly will also pay tribute to the generous support provided by Romania since the invasion.

Romania holds the longest border with Ukraine in all of Nato, and has provided support to about four million Ukrainian refugees, with more than 100,000 making the country their temporary home.

The British embassy in Bucharest has also offered support in education, allowing Ukrainian teachers to continue to teach their curriculum in Romania.

During the session, the two nations are also expected to pledge to work together to strengthen energy security and tackle climate change, expand connections between people and businesses, and to promote growth in both countries following the pandemic.

Updated: March 23, 2023, 12:15 AM