A Long-Lasting Transatlantic Partnership: An Interview with Ambassador Hans George Klemm

Ambassador Hans George Klemm

Hans George Klemm was born in 1957 in Dearborn, Michigan. Coincidentally, the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America has its headquarters in the same town. Klemm is a graduate of Indiana University (with a degree in economics and history) and Stanford University (with a master’s degree in international development policy). He joined the United States Foreign Service in 1981 and was promoted into the Senior Foreign Service in 2001. Between 2007 and 2010 he served as the U.S. Ambassador to East Timor. In March 2015, Klemm was nominated as U.S. Ambassador to Romania, and in September 2015 he assumed the duties of U.S. Ambassador to Romania, in Bucharest.

I had the opportunity to meet the ambassador in the spring and summer of 2015, while he was attending the Romanian class at the Foreign Service Institute. Then, he talked with me extensively about the influence of some Romanian cultural personalities in his training as a professional. Later, I had the opportunity to meet the ambassador on November 16, 2018, at the Romanian Embassy in Washington, DC, during a symposium-gala on issues of politics, security, management and culture of the ALIANŢA (The Alliance – Friends of the Romanian-American Alliance) organization.

On that occasion, I had a brief discussion-interview with the ambassador.

In 2018, Romania was to conclude the Centenary Year of the Great Union of 1918. I asked Mr. Klemm how he would characterize the Centenary Year for this country and its people. Mr. Klemm used the occasion to evoke a number of Romanian personalities who had a contribution in this regard, but also to his training as a diplomat, as cultural mentors. He also highlighted Elie Wiesel, a native of Romania and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (in 1986). Klemm mentioned that Romania has come a long way towards becoming a stable state. “So, when we think where we were a hundred of years ago in Romania, a war-torn country, and again it was able to come out of that violence and unify and become over time a powerful state,” emphasized the ambassador.

Then I invited Mr. Klemm to briefly describe the Romanian-American relations during the Trump and Iohannis administrations. The ambassador said: “Last year [in 2017], President Iohannis visited Washington, met with President Trump at the White House in June 2017 and had a very, very comprehensive and productive meeting. And then I was, I had the honor of being in the Rose Garden [of the White House] when they gave us the press conference. Important, historical things were debated during the conference.” The ambassador also mentioned that the two presidents, Trump and Iohannis, have made it very clear that they are engaged not only in the short and medium term, but also in the long term in deepening their relations.

Finally, I asked the ambassador to specify, from his point of view, the challenges that Romania will face in the near future. Klemm mentioned the impact of Brexit on Romania, with unpredictable effects for many Romanians who are in the UK at work. Also, another important challenge was represented by the migration of Romanians to the world. Klemm noted that there are almost six million Romanians outside the country’s borders, which represents a huge potential for Romania’s regeneration. He concluded by saying about the Romanian government that “they ought to bring these people back to contribute to the development of the country.”

I parted with Mr. Ambassador with the hope that there would be a new opportunity to have a more extended discussion on the important issues that mark the Romanian-American long-standing relations.

Meanwhile, shortly after Romania successfully concluded the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in July 2019, on August 20, 2019, the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis had a second meeting at the White House with the U.S. President, Donald Trump. The two presidents discussed pragmatically and openly the ways of deepening and expanding their Strategic Partnership (launched 22 years ago). For the first time, a joint declaration was adopted, on political-military and security cooperation, as well as economic cooperation, in the field of energy including nuclear energy. Also, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the two governments regarding the 5G technology of the wireless communication networks, and there were discussions about the admission of Romania in the Visa Waiver program.

The transatlantic relationship between the two countries remains stable and is vital for Western civilization and common values.

 

NOTE -A version of the article was published in MEDIUM.

 

TIBERIU DIANU has published several books and a host of articles in law, politics, and post-communist societies. He currently lives and works in Washington, DC and can be followed on MEDIUM.

 

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