Romanian PM at Cotel_311.
(photo credit: Jeremy Sharon)
Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc arrived on Wednesday night with nine of his
cabinet ministers for a government-to-government meeting with the Israeli
cabinet reflecting flourishing political, security and economic ties between
Jerusalem and Bucharest.
In advance of the meeting, diplomatic officials
in Jerusalem described Romania as “among Israel’s best friends in Eastern
Europe,” and a country that places a great deal of importance on its ties with
For instance, the officials said, Israel is described on the
Romanian Foreign Ministry website as Romania’s “principle partner in the Middle
The country’s president, meanwhile, has been quoted as saying that
his country is “one of Israel closest friends.”
According to officials in
Jerusalem, this support is wall-to-wall in Romania, and includes members both of
the coalition and the opposition.
Boc, before the Palestinian statehood
gambit at the UN in September, told both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and
President Shimon Peres that Bucharest supports Israel’s position that “peace
will be achieved only through direct negotiations, without
Nevertheless, in the UNESCO vote earlier this month on
whether to admit “Palestine” as a member, Romania was one of 52 countries that
abstained, rather than voting no along with 14 other nations. A total of 107
countries voted for the measure.
Diplomatic officials pointed out that
Israel has had continuous diplomatic ties with Romania since the establishment
of the state, and it was the only Communist bloc country not to break off ties.
Once the Iron Curtain fell, Romania – turning its orientation westward –
tightened its ties considerably with Israel.
Part of the connection
between the two countries is historical, with a Jewish community in Romania from
the 15th century. In 1930, the Jewish community in Romania numbered some 800,000
people, or 4.5 percent of the population.
By the end of the Holocaust
that number was cut in half to 400,000; the vast majority of that remnant
immigrated to Israel in various waves up to the 1980s. Today, Romanian Jews make
up the second largest Jewish ethnic community in the country, following that of
Jews from the former Soviet Union.
According to diplomatic officials,
this “human” connection helped explain the close ties between the country, as
most of Romania’s leading politicians have ties with Jews who immigrated to
The officials said that Israel and Romania have strong security
ties manifest in close intelligence and army cooperation, as well as in arms
deals. This cooperation became public in the summer of 2010 when an IDF
helicopter training in Romania crashed, killing one Romanian soldier and six
Regarding economic ties, Israelis – according to
diplomatic officials – have some $3 billion invested in the country, and there
are approximately 5,800 Israeli companies doing business in Romania, with Israel
rated eighth on the list of countries with companies doing business there.
Mutual trade in 2010 reached $428 million, up considerably from the $260m. in
mutual trade the year before.
Last year also saw a sizable increase in
the number of Israeli tourists going to Romania, with 80,000 visiting the
country, a 30 percent increase from the year before. That same year, some 40,000
Romanians visited Israel.