MONTGOMERY — Delegates from Romania spoke to the Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday to applaud the 30-year relationship between the two governments and encourage expansion in light of Romania’s assistance in the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Romanian Defense Minister Angel Tilvar spoke at length before the House, addressing the past partnership with Alabama and the need for an expanded relationship to provide Romania with military equipment and supplies.

“Romania is a member of NATO since 2004, a member of the European Union since 2007, and we have [been] a strategic partner of the United States of America since 1997,” Tilvar said. "Yet, there is an event older and an even older partnership very important for us. In 1993, Romania became one of the first states to enter the state partnership program. We were privileged to have this partnership with the state of Alabama. Therefore, it is a great pleasure for me to have the opportunity to be here today to celebrate [the] 30-year mark of the state partnership program with the National Guard of Alabama. A key milestone to the pathway to our remarkable strategic partnership.”

The State Partnership Program began in 1993, pairing Ukraine with the California National Guard and Romania with Alabama National Guard.

The relationship between The Alabama National Guard and Romania has been ever-growing for the past three decades. Romania’s 72nd Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Defense Battalion trained with the Alabama National Guard’s 31st CBRN Brigade at Camp Shelby in Mississippi in 2022.

The relationship has included training coordination, joint tactical training, medical operations, humanitarian assistance and more.

Tilvar expressed a desire to grow the relationship as Romania assists Ukraine in its fight against Russia. Appealing to Alabama’s extensive military and aerospace corporations, Tilvar stressed that Romania had recently increased its defense budget, a large amount of which is allocated to equipment.

“Given the success of the partnership, I do believe that now is the right moment to move to the next level and expand our cooperation,” I strongly encourage that Alabama’s companies from the defense industry to come to invest in Romania. Ladies and gentlemen, in the context of Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, the states in the black sea region are dealing with increased challenges that require new approaches regarding the efficient use of modern technologies and the exploitation of economic opportunities in order to provide an adequate response to current and future challenges. Among the measures adopted in response to the current security situation generated by the Russian aggression and invasion of Ukraine, we decided to increase the defense budget to 2.5 of GDP starting this year. After which, more than 37% are allocated for major equipment procurement and research activities.”

He continued, “Ever since February 24, Romania has stood strong alongside our neighbor and partner, and we are currently providing a multi-dimensional support to Ukraine. We are committed to continue our assistance as long as it takes.”

After concluding his remarks, Tilvar received a standing ovation and a special farewell from House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter.

“To the Defense minister and his constituents, we pray for Romania just like we pray for America, and we certainly appreciate you being here today, and you know you’re welcome in Alabama any time,” Ledbetter said.

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