On 20 December, Romanian Prime Nicolae Ciuca Minister and Defense Minister Angel Tilvar and arrived in South Korea for high level talks. According to official announcements, the two countries are looking to strengthen economic cooperation and work together on nuclear energy. The presence of Defense Minister Tilvar has also led to speculation that Romania may be seeking to buy Korean weapons.
Romania’s previous Defense Minister Vasile Dîncu, who had recently resigned following controversial comments regarding Ukraine, had traveled to Romania back in September. His meeting with Korean counterpart Lee Jong-sup resulted in a letter of intent promoting defense cooperation between Korea and Romania which includes joint response to transnational security issues like cyber defense.
Romanian media reported that “reliable sources” indicate that the government is interested in following Poland’s footsteps in acquiring the Korean K9 “Thunder” 155mm self propelled howitzer. Industry sources are reported to also have said that the K2 tank, another high-profile Polish acquisition, is not being considered. Another area of discussion may be powder production as the Romanian military is currently highly reliable on countries like Serbia and Ukraine for propellants. Finally, official press releases discussed that the leaders of the two countries discussed further defense cooperation involving South Korea through NATO.
Besides defense cooperation, nuclear energy was one of the key areas of bilateral talks with the Romanian Prime Minister highlighting opportunities for trilateral cooperation which would also involve the United States:
“We are open to analyzing the possibilities of a tripartite cooperation Romania-Republic of Korea-USA in the field of nuclear energy and we encourage the participation of South Korean investors in projects such as that of small modular reactors (SMR) and in the investments at Cernavoda.”
Besides the Prime Minister and Defense Ministers, the Romanian delegation included a number of other top level officials. The Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Economy, Minister of Education, Minister of Energy, Minister of Research, Innovation and Digitization and Minister of Education were all present.