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Former Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende receives The Star of Romania in the rank Grand Cross

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H.E. Brândușa Predescu, Ambassador of Romania and  Mr. Jan Peter Balkenende, Prime Minister of the Netherlands between 2002 and 2010.

By Djoeke Altena.

Mr. Jan Peter Balkenende, Prime Minister of the Netherlands between 2002 and 2010, received the “SteauaRomâniei”, The Star of Romania in the rank Grand Cross from H.E. Brândușa Predescu, Ambassador of Romania. This prestigious decoration is awarded for the crucial role he played, in the context of the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2004, in supporting Romania to successfully finalize its negotiations for accession to the European Union.

In the presence of friends, family, diplomats and dignitaries, H.E. Predescu expressed gratitude to Mr. Balkenende, “Undoubtedly, Mr. Prime Minister, by the leadership and vision you have shown in supporting Romania’s accession to the European Union, you have made a major contribution to the deepening and expansion of relations on all fronts between our two countries. For this Romania and the Romanians are appreciative and grateful.”

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Mr. Bernard Bot, former Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Not only within the context of the European Council, but also within the Dutch Parliament and Senate Mr. Balkenende played a decisive role in Romania’s Accession to the EU. The arguments used then – claiming that it is essential to be strict, but also fair to Romania (and Bulgaria), that the countries had implemented deep and far reaching reforms– succeeded in tipping the spirit in the TweedeKamer.

Probably more important was the insistence on another dimension, the economic one. Balkenende, as head of state, and H.E. Mr. Bernard Bot, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs in his Cabinet at the time, emphasised that the Netherlands had only to gain from Romania’s and Bulgaria’s accession, in terms of a larger market for Dutch exports and investments.

H.E. Andrea Gustovic Ercegovac, Ambassador of Croatia with one of the guests.

The Dutch were proven right; In only 3 years after accession, by 2009, the number of Dutch companies in Romania almost doubled, reaching more than 5,200 today. “Likewise, the exports from the Netherlands to my country multiplied by five in the same period of time.

Maybe even more significant than sheer numbers is the context and the share of total foreign investment in Romania that Dutch companies are responsible for. The good news is that The Netherlands outranks even Germany when it comes to overall capital originating from another country that is invested in my country,” said. H.E. Predescu.

H.E. Brândușa Predescu, Ambassador of Romania and Mr. Jan Peter Balkenende with his spouse.

Balkenende expressed his gratitude for the great honour of receiving this decoration and stressed the importance of the relationship between The Netherlands and Romania within the European Union. “Of course there are issues, difficulties and incidents, but the European Union has to think about its own future. But I want to underline that we are all part of the same continent, and that we need each other,” said Balkenende.

The ceremony was followed by a short reception in honour of Mr. Jan Peter Balkenende, with Romanian wines and bites.

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