Bill Clinton visits Romania to take part in branding conference

Monday, May 23, 2005

Former United States president Bill Clinton visited Bucharest on Saturday to attend the Beyond Borders conference, where he delivered a keynote presentation about the meaning of branding, or marketing, a country. The Beyond Borders conference was also attended by several high-profile Romanian personalities, including President Traian Băsescu, Prime Minister Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu, opposition leader Mircea Geoană and former Prime Minister Petre Roman.

Clinton said that since his last visit to Romania in 1997, things have changed positively. The country had become a NATO member (an event which occurred in 2004), it is soon to join the European Union, and people are more optimistic, with higher hopes for the future.

Clinton praised Romania for its involvement in the relief effort for the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, stating that "This proves you [Romanians] are involved and you want to be more integrated into the international community."

As to branding Romania, Clinton advised that Romanians should find a phrase or symbol that truly reflects the country and that its residents believe in. He said, "If 98 percent of Romanians will believe in that phrase, it is good, because they will be able to convince foreigners."

Romanian President Traian Băsescu likes to see his country as "the new tiger of Europe"

The former U.S. president said that, before the conference, he had a talk to President Băsescu about marketing. Clinton said that Băsescu wants to launch Romania's image as "the new tiger of Europe", making an allusion to Romania's solid economic growth and political progress in the past few years. Romania's economy grew in 2004 by 8.3%, one of the highest growth rates in Europe.

Meanwhile, Clinton said he thought a more appropriate phrase would be "find Europe's future here". He stated that, "Every Romanian I have met believed in freedom and believed in the future of his country, [a future] which is tied to the US and Europe."

Clinton also said that, in order to give Romania a competitive advantage over other countries in the region, it should choose elements that are positive and different from its neighbouring countries. "You can simply say Romania is bigger. That gives more room for investment," he said.

Aside from attending the Beyond Borders conference, Clinton launched the Romanian translation of his autobiography "My Life", going to a major bookstore in Bucharest to sign 500 copies of the book. "My Life" sells in Romania for 75 new lei, or 21, with 5000 copies launched in bookstores around the country.