Chancellor Olaf Scholz was in Bucharest, on April 3, to confirm his support for the projects and efforts of the North Atlantic Alliance in NATO’s eastern grant. Almost 14 years ago, Angela Merkel was also in Bucharest, but without any consequence on the configuration of bilateral or regional relations.
Of course, today’s challenges are much more complex and urgent because of the war in Ukraine.
To the surprise of many observers from Romania and outside it, Scholz demonstrated an obvious pragmatism, both in bilateral relations and in the regional context, which includes the Republic of Moldova, a state that Germany has once again committed, together with Romania, to do not leave him in the clutches of Russia.
In the foreground were bilateral relations. Germany is Romania’s first partner for both imports and exports. The automotive industry in Romania is largely developed according to the requirements of the big German companies. Berlin, Scholz said today, wants to be more present in the industrial development of Romania. Especially, we say, that the favorites of the Germans until now, Hungary and Poland, are starting to disappoint more and more, not only from a political point of view.
There are, therefore, chances that Germany-Romania-R. Moldova to form the Bucharest Triangle, a cooperation format for South-Eastern Europe.
Scholz’s presence in Bucharest had three essential components.
1. Romania’s involvement in German armament projects, determined by the war in Ukraine. Coincidentally or not, today the German arms group Rheinmetall announced that it will soon open a maintenance center for heavy equipment on the battlefield in Ukraine. “Rheinmetall is working hard to establish a military maintenance and logistics center in Romania, a NATO partner country,” the company said. Work on the construction site near the city of Satu Mare/northern Romania has already started. The so-called service center is supposed to “come into operation in April 2023”. The maintenance center should “play a central role in maintaining the operational readiness of Western combat systems used in Ukraine and in providing their logistical support.” The company named self-propelled howitzers, Leopard 2 main battle tanks, Marder armored vehicles, Fuchs armored vehicles and military trucks as possible weapon systems.
2. The German Chancellor supported the issue of Romania’s accession to Schengen and agreed that it must be resolved during this year, because our country is ready and proves this, and next year multiple elections are scheduled.
3. Supporting the Republic of Moldova, a buffer state between NATO, Ukraine and Russia for the strengthening of democracy and independence. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared, in a joint press conference with President Maia Sandu and President Klaus Iohannis, that the Republic of Moldova will be supported with everything possible in the face of Russia’s destabilization attempts. “Cohesion and solidarity, these are the order of the day, at a time when imperialist politics threaten our democratic achievements and common security in Europe,” declared Scholz.
The German chancellor had meetings with other Romanian leaders, a fact that gives confidence that his visit was a substantial one.