From the podium

From the podium

His Excellency Valeriu Steriu (State Secretary Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forests of Romania)

Mr Chairman, Mr Director-General, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Heads of Delegations, Distinguished audience.

I wish to address cordial congratulations to the Chairman of this important international meeting for his appointment to this position, and to thank the authorities of the Host Country for providing such excellent conditions in which to carry out its work.

My delegation welcomes the initiative of Mr Jacques Diouf, Director-General of FAO, in organizing this Summit and in paying particular attention to the debate of issues of great relevance for our countries.

More than five years have elapsed from the moment when, from this tribune, Heads of State or their senior representatives proclaimed their common and national commitment to ensure food security for all, to eradicate famine in all countries and to reduce by half the number of undernourished persons by 2015. I express my hope that FAO will soon register a positive result from our efforts to accomplish the objectives of the 1996 Summit.

Distinguished audience, the Romanian Government, preoccupied by the importance of food security and all aspects related to this important issue, has taken further steps in achieving this goal by establishing, in 2001, the Commission Against Poverty and Social Exclusion. The main objectives that the competent authorities envisaged focus on: establishment of an action plan against poverty with urgent and long-term measures, and its implementation; poverty monitoring with special attention given to areas of extreme poverty, characterized by important tendencies of exclusion and social disorganization; ex-ante evaluation of economic and social policies and measures to prevent the synergetic effects of poverty.

It is also important to stress the priority given by our country to the elaboration of the National Action Plan for labour force employment in line with the European strategy in this field. Special attention is paid to regional development, in particular to improving the labour force market and guiding young people towards specific employment training based on identified economic needs by involved institutions.

It is obvious that cooperation with the social partners will lead to the development of traditional and modern methods, which can bring about an increase in income for ensuring food safety. Agriculture and rural development play an essential role in our Government's strategy that provides for high domestic food quality, and sustainable and diversified production in line with European safety standards.

The main axes of our policy to be followed may be synthesized as follows: development of rural economy through the establishment and modernization of real estate for private agricultural and forestry exploitations, the development and diversification of economic activities to maintain and/or create alternative/additional incomes and new places of work; improved living standards in rural areas through improvement and development of social infrastructures and through establishment of the necessary agricultural practices for sustainable agriculture and rural development; combating threats to the environment; adoption of certain protective measures in accordance with the legislation in force; and assuring healthy and diversified food production for the people.

The creation of a competitive agri-food sector, able to ensure food security and consumer protection as required by the European market, represents a priority objective of the Government. In 2001, Romania registered notable progress in this respect.

The basic European Community regulations in the sanitary-veterinary field, and phyto-sanitary fields, as well as with regard to seeds and propagation material, foodstuffs, and other sectors which have a major impact on food security, have been incorporated in the national legislation. In April 2001, Romania presented to the European Commission the Strategy for Food Security, which establishes a precise timetable for achieving the implementation of the legislative and institutional framework.

Substantial efforts are being made to modernize processing units and ensure their conformity with the hygiene and quality standards of the single market.

By the Position Document on Chapter 7 – Agriculture, submitted to the European Commission in December 2001, Romania commits itself to fully transpose and implement the community regulations for its accession, except for the fulfilment of certain measures for which transition periods have been requested in view of the large volume of work needed and the substantial financial funds involved. In this context, the support of the European Member Nations of FAO will continue to be most welcome, both in technical matters – regarding the drafting and implementation of new projects, - and as concerns direct investments in Romanian agriculture and food industry.

Integration will ensure not only an increase in the sector's competitiveness, but also the food security and protection of consumers, whilst observing environmental restrictions, the natural and cultural heritage, at the same time, creating the necessary conditions for the improvement of the living standard of the ruralliving standards.

Distinguished audience. Romania will also continue to pay particular attention to the development and diversification of its collaboration with FAO, other Specialized international bodies, especially WFP and IFAD, and with other international financial institutions. In this respect, I would like to thank FAO, and personally the Director-General, for the support granted to Romanian projects. As for Romania, it will assume all responsibilities regarding the implementation of these projects.

By the same token, Romania is ready to assume new tasks concerning cooperation with other countries in the Region and FAO Members, for the initiation, starting and implementation of common projects.

I wish every success to the work of this Summit whose results, followed by significant actions, are awaited in particular by the countries, in the process of consolidating their market economies and their agricultural sectors.

Thank you for your attention.

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