Exclusive: Romania, Pakistan Direct Flights From 2013

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Ambassador of Romania Talks to DNA and Centreline
I feel really happy to announce and share with your readers the information that there will soon be direct flights from Romania and Pakistan. I am confident we will have these flights in the year 2013. Let me tell you that a private group of Romanian businessmen has decided to launch direct flights. Initially flights will be operated from Lahore to Bucharest twice a week but this frequency can surely be increased keeping in view the load of passengers.

Romania, Pakistan Direct
Flights From 2013
Ansar Mahmood Bhatti
Ambassador of Romania talks to Centreline and DNA

H.E. Mr. Emilian ION is Ambassador of Romania to Pakistan since 2009. He started off as Economist in Ministry of Chemical Industry in 1971-1974. In 1974-79 he served as Attaché Middle East Department in Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). His other assignments include 3rd Secretary Embassy of Romania to Bangui 1979-80, Charge de Affaires to Nouakchott 1988-1990, First Secretary, Counselor to Rabat 1994-97, Minister Counselor Rabat, Charge de Affaires Rabat 1997-99, Deputy Director Africa MFA 1999-2000, Charge de Affaires Baghdad 2000-2002, Charge de Affaires Nairobi 2002-2006, Head of Africa Section, Middle East MFA 2006-2008, Deputy Director Middle East and Africa MFA 2008-2009. He gave an exclusive interview to Centreline and Diplomatic News Agency (DNA) on the occasion of National Day of Romania which was celebrated on November 30, 2012. Here are excerpts from his interview.

1: Let’s us begin with direct flights between Romania and Pakistan. What is update on that?

I feel really happy to announce and share with your readers the information that there will soon be direct flights from Romania and Pakistan. I am confident we will have these flights in the year 2013. Let me tell you that a private group of Romanian businessmen has decided to launch direct flights. Initially flights will be operated from Lahore to Bucharest twice a week but this frequency can surely be increased keeping in view the load of passengers. Start of direct flights between the two countries will surely promote business activity between the two countries. Not only this, Bucharest can prove a viable hub for those passengers transiting to other European countries and even rest of the world because the same company shall be flying to USA, etc.

The airline company has already bought three aircraft to connect Bucharest with Lahore. In past the national Romanian flag carrier used to come to Karachi but somehow the operation was stopped. Now the initiative from the private companies of both countries is going to give new dimensions to bilateral relations. Let me avail this opportunity to share an important information with your readers that the businessmen travelling to any European destination having a Schengen visa can stay in Romania for four five days without a Romanian visa. So once Pakistan, Romania direct air contacts are established, business people will have an opportunity to make a transit stay of a few days in Romania.

My intention is to take to Romania people from all walks of life such as business, media, politics, culture, diplomacy etc in the inaugural flight. Preparations to this effect are under way and further details shall be made public in the coming days.

 

2.        How would you describe bilateral relations between Pakistan and Romania in the fields of politics; trade and economy?

During my three and half year tenure, I have tried my best to promote relations between the two countries. Let me tell you that there is huge scope for bilateral cooperation between Romania and Pakistan and now it is our responsibility to exploit this scope to the benefit of both nations.  You know a high level Romanian delegation led by Chairman Senate Foreign Relations Committee, visited Pakistan last year, which in itself was significant development. Initiation of political dialogue is indeed a positive development and one should hope, this process and momentum will be maintained by both sides.

Political consultations between the two countries are also going on with a view to finding more common grounds of cooperation. The Pakistani additional secretary Europe discussed mutual cooperation during her last visit to the region. Let me tell you we are in the process of honoray consulates in Lahore and Faisalabad soon and I hope once established these consulates will greatly contributes towards cementing relations between the two countries. In December we will have legislative elections, after which we will have more bilateral contacts.

Likewise in trade and economy our interaction has increased. Pakistan and Romania signed a number of Agreements on Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation .The Agreement that was signed last year is promoting cooperation between the two countries in the fields of industry, agriculture, forestry, energy sector, research and development, telecommunication, computing & informatics, transport, logistics, environment protection, tourism, investment promotion, SME cooperation, education, health care and science and technology.  Under the signed Agreement, Pakistan-Romania Joint Commission would be set up. The Commission will work for identification of new development opportunities, develop proposals for economic cooperation of the government institutions, as well as establish ad-hoc or permanent expert working groups and committee of both countries. The Commission shall hold its meeting at least once a year alternately in Pakistan and Romania and will review progress of decisions undertaken in the previous meetings.

The current volume of trade between us does not reflect the actual potential of both counties base in past we had more trade activity. We built a oil refinery and cement plant in Karachi. Next year I hope the meeting of joint ministerial commission will take place, which will be yet another milestone in terms of promotion of trade relations between the two countries.

3: Please tell us something about Pakistan Romania Business Council. Are you satisfied with it so far performance?

As you know launched Pakistan Romania Business Council, a 18-member delegation of which visited Romania last year greatly helped bring business people of both countries even closer. Establishment of Business Council is augmenting our efforts for promotion of business relations between the two counties. Let me tell you the Business Council is led by dynamic businessmen of Karachi who genuinely want to promote business ties between two friendly countries. So, let me allow recognizing efforts of the Business Council people and wishing them a success in all their future endeavours meant to strengthen bilateral relations.

Romania can help Pakistan in energy sector as well and for this purpose various options are already under consideration. We plan to build a 150 MW hydro power plant in Pakistan. Similarly there are certain other areas where both Romania and Pakistan can benefit from each other’s experience such as textile, leather products and surgical instruments etc. I have visited many cities of Pakistan including Lahore, Karachi, Sialkot, Faisalabad etc and met with businessmen there. I asked them to go to Romania and invest there because Romania offers conducive business environment to businessmen. Likewise, I also talked to some Romanian businessmen to come to Pakistan and invest here. I think Pakistan has a lot to offer to business people. As I mentioned in the beginning potential is there so it is up to us how we exploit this potential.

4: How would you describe cultural relations between Pakistan and Romania?

As you know the Romania embassy with the help of Capital Development Authority had built a monument in Blue Area Islamabad. The monument was built to pay homage to Pakistani national poet Allama Iqbal and Romanian national poet Mihai Eninescu. I plan to invite some cultural teams from Romania and for this purpose I am in touch with the Rafi Peer Theatre in Lahore. I am confident we shall soon be able to do something in this regard.

There is famous Pakistani designer Aqeel and Nabeel who have ventured to under take joint businesses with Romanian counterpart. I have seen he produced some good quality suits with joint collaboration. The suits carry tag of ‘Made in Romania’, which I think is a very good development and I hope this company will explore more avenues of cooperation.

5: Pakistan-Romania Friendship Association has been re-activated. How would describe this initiative and do you think this association will help contribute toward strengthening of relations between Pakistan and Romania?

The re-activation of Pakistan-Romania Friendship Association (PRFA) is yet another step towards strengthening of cultural relations between the two countries.  I do hope the newly-formed association shall do its best to develop and strengthen relations between Romania and Pakistan in many fields of common interest.  Pakistan Romania Friendship Association has to play a vital role towards promoting economic development and facilitate cooperation amongst business communities of Romania and Pakistan. It will be my endeavor to strengthen the Association with various business opportunities from various sectors of the economy, so that we are equipped to serve the business community in Pakistan and Romania. Here I also would like to recognize services of all sitting and previous members who undoubtedly had put in their best efforts to promote relations between the two countries. I am equally indebted to Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for extending its support and making this venture a success.

6: What are your impressions about Pakistan and Pakistani people?

 I would say, Pakistanis are a great nation and have great potential. They are hospitable; kind and cooperative. I must commend your political and military leadership the way they have been dealing with the terrorism problem. We duly recognize sacrifices rendered in this process and would like to see the international community extending more and more assistance to Pakistan. Pakistan has also a role to play in the region as well. In the end I would again reiterate my commitment and desire to promote and strengthen Romania-Pakistan relations.

Romania, Pakistan dostee Zindabad!!