The international community faces today an extraordinary array of global challenges demanding effective multilateral cooperation in pursuit of a shared future of peace and prosperity. The UN is the centerpiece of this endeavor and therefore Romania has appointed as its Ambassador to the United Nations one of its most experienced and remarkable diplomats. Dr. Ion Jinga discusses the role and position of Romania within the UN.
TGR: What are the highlights of your diplomatic career so far?
I joined the MFA in November 1992, three years after the overthrow of the Communist regime in Romania. I worked my way up step by step, from the level of Third Secretary to the rank of Ambassador to Brussels, London and New York. I am particularly privileged to belong to a generation which set Romania on the path of European and Euro-Atlantic integration, and there are a number of moments that I am honored to remember.
As diplomat and ambassador to Brussels, I devoted myself to Romania’s accession to the EU. In 2007 I was bestowed The Great Cross of the Crown’s Order, in person by HM King Albert. In 2008 I was awarded The Cross of the Romanian Royal House, in person by HM King Michael.
As ambassador to London, I worked to reinvigorate the bilateral Strategic Partnership and to protect the interest of Romanians living the UK. I received the title “Freeman of the City of London” (2014), and the British Parliament adopted a motion which “(…) commends the work of the outgoing Ambassador of Romania to the UK, Dr Ion Jinga, who has played a significant part in developing relations between the two countries (…)” (Early day motion 291/2015). As ambassador to New York, I chaired seven UN bodies, six of them in premiere for Romanian diplomacy. In 2017, the President of the UN General Assembly awarded me the “Diploma for outstanding contribution to the success of the work of the 71st Session of the General Assembly” and the President of Romania granted me the diplomatic rank of Ambassador.
I authored five books on EU topics, including the first “Dictionary on EU Integration” published in Romania (2000). “The European Union: Realities and perspectives” (1999) mentions for the first time the scenario of Romania’s accession to the EU in 2007, and “The European Union looking for its Future. European Studies” (2008) was included by the European Parliament in the online collection “100 Books on Europe to Remember” (the only book published in Romania). In 2014, the “Foreign Policy Romania” magazine named me “one of the 100 Romanian personalities who have moved the country through the power of their ideas or through their example”.
TGR: What are the priorities of your mandate as Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations?
Our priorities at the UN reflect responsibilities assumed by Romania internationally: tackling threats to the international peace and stability, using preventive diplomacy to resolve disputes, advancing the UN reform process, implementing the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development, promoting respect for human rights, dialogue and cooperation. The “priority zero” is Romania’s candidacy for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council for the period 2020-2021, a foreign policy goal where – using the words of Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu – “the Permanent Mission of Romania to the UN is the spearhead”. A seat in the Security Council is the most important position a country may aspire in the international arena and its reverberations could project Romania’s international prominence for a decade.
TGR: What are some of the most important topics on the UN agenda that you are personally involved in?
I co-chaired the negotiations on the Security Council reform, the most complex component of the overall UN reform, being the first East-European diplomat appointed to such a position. Currently, I have the privilege to chair, on behalf of Romania, two important UN bodies: the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and the Committee on Disarmament and International Security (First Committee) – both first time chaired by Romania. I have also the honor to preside the Group of Francophone Ambassadors at the UN, which comprises 88 countries.
TGR: What are Romania’s place and role in the current global geopolitical context?
Global geopolitics is a reality in permanent motion. We are witnessing unprecedented challenges and there are signs that the tectonic plates of the post-war international order are moving. Consequently, the Romanian foreign policy has to adapt to new realities. The key Strategic Partnership with the US and the NATO membership place Romania in a stable equation of security, while our profile in the EU is based on our position as an anchor of stability in the Black Sea region and on the constructive role we play in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Middle East and North Africa. Cooperation with traditional partners is relaunched and Romania now has diplomatic relations with 190 states in the world.
TGR: What is Romania’s contribution to the United Nations Organization?
With a 100 years’ tradition in multilateral diplomacy (founding member of the League of Nations in 1919), Romania devotes political and diplomatic resources, as well as official development assistance, to promoting peace and security, fostering sustainable development, protecting human rights and leaving no one behind. Since 1991, more than 12,500 Romanian personnel (military, police, gendarmes, close protection officers) served under the UN flag in 25 peacekeeping operations. Romania is a top EU contributor in terms of number of police officers in UN missions, and the only country in the world which provides close protection units to the UN, through the Guard and Protection Service (SPP). It is also firmly committed to the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Based on such a solid track record, Romania is perceived at the UN as a respected, reliable and skilled actor.
TGR: What is your personal message to our international audience?
Now, when Romanians celebrate the Centennial Anniversary of the Great Union of 1st December 1918, we have a unique opportunity to remember those who have built Great Romania, to reflect on what we have achieved in 2000 years of continuous presence on the same territory and to prove vision, wisdom and determination in shaping a Great Future for what I use to call “Eternal Romania”. We can do it together. This should be our legacy for the generations to come.