In each nation's history there are moments of change, turning points, celebration, despair or triumph. History never steps back but it can be inspirational for the future. Romanians' history begins 1900 years ago and is carved in the stone of Trajan's Column in Rome, commemorating the Dacian Wars. A marvel of its time, the Column has survived almost intact and an impressive real life replica is hosted by Victoria & Albert Museum in London. It is a symbol that lies at the centre of our identity as a Latin people.
For Romanians, December has a special significance. It is a time of triumph because on 1st December 1918 the modern Romanian State - at that time the Kingdom of Romania - has reached its natural borders, fulfilling the multi-secular dream of bringing together all historical provinces inhabited by Romanians. Therefore, every year on 1st December we proudly celebrate our National Day. It is also the time of celebrating Christmas, and few other nations preserve unaltered fascinating ancient traditions from the beginnings of their Christianity as Romanians do.
December was a time of despair in 1947, when King Michael was forced to abdicate and for the next 42 years the country remained part of the Communist block controlled by the Soviet Union. December was a turning point in our history in 1989, when a general uprising broke down Ceausescu's regime and Romania returned to democracy.
Since 1992, every four or five years December is also a time of politics because of the parliamentary and presidential elections. The installment of the newly elected President will take place on 22nd December, the same day when the revolution triggered in Bucharest 25 years ago. History enjoys sometimes playing game with figures.
After the fall of Communism, Romania had as a fundamental priority to integrate into the European and Euro-Atlantic structures and to anchor itself in solid partnerships with the West. My country is today the 7th state in the EU and the 10th in NATO in terms of geographic size and population. It is a security provider in Central and Eastern Europe and it protects the second longest external border of the European Union.
Romania shares with the United Kingdom the ancient times when both were parts of the Roman Empire, the military alliance during the Great War, the links between their Royal families, Queen Maria of Romania - who was a catalyst of the Great Union of 1918 - being British by birth and grand daughter of Queen Victoria, but also the nowadays excellent bilateral relations based on a Strategic Partnership and on the EU and NATO membership.
This partnership is an asset on both sides. Covering initially political dialogue, security, trade and culture, it was then extended to investments, energy and the digital single market for Europe. Our bilateral trade amounted 3.3 billion euro in 2013 and 2.3 billion euro in the first eight months of 2014. The Romanian car Dacia is now better sold in Britain than Jaguar. 5,000 British companies are registered in Romania with a total investment of 4.6 billion euro and the UK takes the fifth place as Romanian exports destination within the EU.
6,000 Romanian students are enrolled in British universities and the annual Conference of Romanian students, professors and researchers in the UK - a project I have initiated in 2008 - became a tradition, the 7th edition being hosted last October by the University of Sheffield. More than 4,000 Romanian doctors and nurses are working in the British NHS. There are Romanian researchers in Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Medicine or IT in almost every important research centre in the UK, and there are Romanian workers in every construction site in Britain. The UK is one of Romania's closest friends and allies in Europe.
In my seven years as a Romanian diplomat on the British soil, I have travelled the length and breadth of Britain not only because it is within the remit of an ambassador to become acquainted with the country in which he is accredited, to meet the local authorities and the communities of Romanians who live there and bring their contribution to the British economic, social and cultural life, but also because I wanted to understand the spirit, the soul and the traditions of the British, to understand why words like "to behave like a lord" and "fair play" were not invented somewhere else, and why Magna Charta was not written in 1215 in a different corner of the world.
I also had the opportunity to discover Britain's true values: national pride, an incredible rich history and high moral standards. From my ancestors in the Carpathian Mountains, where unvanquished free Dacians continued to live long after their country was conquered by the Roman Empire, I learned to respect and cherish these values. Therefore, celebrating in London Romania's National Day makes December an even more special time to me.