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Tony Blair in Bucharest: The future belongs to a united Europe

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday held a conference in Bucharest where he urged for a united Europe in the current international context and the challenges facing the European countries. Before this, Romania's Prime Minister Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu on Monday welcomed former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair at the Victoria Palace Government House. Blair was in Romania to attend a conference on the future of Europe in the new world order. Ungureanu told Blair he was happy to see him again.Also on Monday, Blair met Ponta at the Bucharest headquarters of the PSD.

The conference, about the future of Europe in the new world order, was organized by the Multimedia for Local Democracy Foundation and the Center for American Progress. Blair said the UK and Romania had a shared future in a Europe that has to be strong by unity.

He said that it was very hard for different nations to be together, but in today's world, if we want to be sure that the fundamental values of democracy are defended, being together is a fundamental means. Europe, he added, should be strong and determined overall and these values should be secured for the 21st century, which will be dominated by many new emerging powers. Europe has the power and unity to make its voice heard and its values respected and to allow those who believe they are a majority in the world to be so, said Blair. Major short-term and long-term decisions are required, he said, adding that he believes Europe is our common future; I am proud of my country, proud of what it does in the world, and I am sure that for countries like ours part of the future is a shared future that certainly is inside Europe, said Blair.

In his speech, Blair also underscored the need for European unity in the current geopolitical context so that the European countries may be strong enough economically and politically for the worst-case scenario. The future of Europe, he said, is not determined by our wish for peace, which has already been achieved, but by how to get more efficiently united in our aim of staying powerful in the world.

In his opinion one of the big challenges in Europe is connected to the single currency for which short and long-term measures are necessary. Short-term measures are necessary for the single currency to continue to exist, he said. Another challenge is the durability of the single currency, namely leaving behind the current crisis of the Eurozone. This challenge really exists and will require very difficult decisions and political leadership.

The former British Premier thinks, among other things, that one must reform the functioning of the European market, but also the way the state-trade unions partnership is achieved, which is absolutely fundamental for the future of Europe.

The justification of today's Europe is more connected to power than to peace, as peace is related to the nation state. What we need today is for us to focus on the things that make Europe more powerful, things that materialize in clear progress, in living standards. For instance, we shall have a common sense for a foreign and security policy, said Tony Blair.

The British guest mentioned two events during his speech that made him ponder, the 1975 moment, when he voted for the UK joining the former European community, as well as his visit to Bucharest in 1999 when he strongly supported Romania's joining the European Union.

I am glad to see that you are now full-fledged members of the European Union. After all, it seems I am quite interested in this aspect for someone who is deeply pro-European. Although the European crisis overshadows the rest, I believe now Europe is a force for good and remains so in the world. We tend to forget too easily how many centuries of divisions and bloodshed there were on the European continent, as we do forget the decades of stability, Blair said.

According to him, the major geopolitical changes of the 21st century will be marked, among other things, by the rise of China and of other important states, which are going to become powers able to influence the world in a way that is going to change the entire paradigm of geopolitics.

Blair also says that the US remains by far the major economic and military superpower of the world.

Former Presidents of Romania Ion Iliescu and Emil Constantinescu, former Prime Ministers Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, Petre Roman and Victor Ciorbea, Vice-Governor of the National Bank of Romania Bogdan Olteanu, MEPs, vice-chairmen of the Social Democratic Party, deputies and senators, trade union leaders, a lot of personalities in the academic and university milieu, analysts and journalists attended the conference. Blair was the UK prime minister in 1997-2007.