Newspaper CORRIERE DEL TICINO – Special Edition (Part I)
Swiss Ambassador to Bucharest: this country is not always favoured by the reputation it has.
Twenty-six years after the fall of the most bloody communist regime in Europe, Romania is today, in all respects, a country belonging to the EU that implements deep reforms in order to modernize and relaunch his own role. The special envoy of the newspaper “Corriere del Ticino” has travelled to Bucharest to take the pulse of the profound changes that are taking place. During five episodes (today we will publish the first one), we will present some topical issues, without excluding the inklings with Switzerland.
BUCHAREST – “Romania is a much better country than it is its reputation abroad and on which there are incredible prejudices about which even the Romanians often considered that are authentic.” So says the Swiss Ambassador to Bucharest, Jean-Hubert Lebet, who has been operating for four years and a half in the Romanian capital. These years are a period long enough for him to get an idea on the field of what’s boiling in the pot of this nation that already has twenty-six years since it got rid of the bloodiest dictatorship in Europe. With an economic growth rate of 3.5% (official data of 2015, while in 2016 there will be a 4.1%) and with the status of an EU nation in effect from January 1, 2007, today, Romania is even for Switzerland “an excellent platform for developing new business opportunities and to invest in more economic sectors.”
The Swiss embassy, which has been located in the central Grigore Alexandrescu, since 1994 (with the exception of one year between 2008 and 2009), has worked effectively with a multitude of local partners. But how can it be justified the Confederation’s investment of CHF 181 million as a contribution to development of another EU country? The Confederation, reminds Lebet, wanted to provide this amount in order to have access to the European market under the bilateral agreements. The same applies for Bulgaria (which has received 76 million). These are the two countries with which, in 2009 was agreed the extension stage of the free movement of persons.
The operational task of managing the funds made available by the Swiss-Romanian Cooperation Programme, has been entrusted to Mr. Thomas Stauffer, who has been in Bucharest for six years and who is in charge of the homonymous department. The areas of intervention are varied, explains the latter, and they are specifically related to the environment, health, education, housing and health of Roma integration. It operates with concrete projects that, before being realized, are carefully evaluated in collaboration with local authorities. “It is not about the massive funding anymore, but about specific interventions that serve to the development and prosperity of the territory”. How is the cooperation with local authorities? “At the local or regional level they have not encountered any problems. On the national level, things are a little more complex but even here significant problems have not been reported.” “Collaboration is optimal – notes Lebet – also because the Swiss are always positively received, as they are the representatives of a nation in which the reliability and quality are recognized trademarks”.
But most of all, the match of the Swiss presence in Romania, is playing at the business level. “In recent years have been known more stories of entrepreneurial firms successfully operating in this region,” said the Ambassador (there are many Swiss companies in various economic sectors that can be also found on the website of the Swiss – Romanian Chamber of Commerce, www.ccer.ro). For example, a few years ago, two brothers from Toggenburg, two former apprentices butchers from two well-known food chains in their country, have settled in Romania and they have created a company with a significant impact. The main obstacle seems to be the bureaucracy, but with the cooperation of the local authorities, “this is not an insurmountable problem ” says Stauffer. Briefly, the gain is worthwhile. “Romania – concludes Lebet – is a very beautiful and very safe country. In terms of tourism, the villages and wines are fantastic and the economy is going well. Swiss companies need qualified personnel. Progress is being made every year. It is a country with significant opportunities. “