Bogdan Banu, President of Romanians of DC Honored at Gala Celebrating 20 Years of NATO Membership

On Saturday, April 20, the Embassy of Romania to the United State celebrated 20 years since Romania joined NATO with a series of events in Washington, DC. Among these, a distinguished Awards Dinner was organized at the National Press Club to honor personalities who supported Romania’s accession process to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Bogdan Banu, President and Founder of Romanians of DC, was among the distinguished honorees at the gala.

Romanians of DC President, Mr. Bogdan Banu pictured here during his remarks at the Awards Dinner Celebrating 20 Years of Romania’s NATO Membership.

As Ambassador Muraru noted in his welcoming remarks, the event was a celebration of where the relationship between Romania and the U.S. is today, but also a reminder of the challenges we are all facing: “NATO membership was not a gift of history and there was nothing inevitable about it. In just a few years after our Revolution, Romania and the United States sealed their prospering friendship by entering into a Strategic Partnership in 1997. We then underwent radical transformations and sustained an intense and well-coordinated campaign, to which many of you here tonight contributed with all energy and devotion. Two decades ago, we finally met the moment when the arc of freedom was bent towards historical justice. And our membership to NATO made us free in one of the most important ways – we are free of tending to our own security alone.

Ambassador Andrei Muraru giving the opening remarks at this special event.

Let’s not forget that the freedom of Europe is being tested close to our borders, in Ukraine. But together with the United States and our allies, we work together to uphold two sacred principles of international law that are being brutally disregarded: sovereignty and territorial integrity. As we mark now 20 years of NATO membership, we have this unshakable certainty: that no matter how hard the challenge and how heinous the threat, we shall overcome! Because together we are allies, and together we are NATO.”

The featured guest at the event was the NATO Deputy Secretary General, H.E. Mircea Geoană, one of the promoters of Romania’s accession to the North Atlantic Alliance 20 years ago, both as Romania’s Ambassador to the USA and as Foreign Affairs Minister.

H.E. Mircea Geoană, NATO Deputy Secretary General, was the key note speaker at this Award Dinner and talked about his personal experience advocating as an young Ambassador for Romania’s accession into NATO.

Special recognition awards were bestowed amongst others upon Mrs. Debra Cagan, senior advisor at the Atlantic Council, who has been active in multiple U.S. Administrations, coordinating and directing security policy; Ambassador Dan Fried who played a key role in designing and implementing U.S. policy for a Europe whole and free after the fall of the Soviet Union; Dr. Stephen Flanagan who had a leading role in the development of the Strategic Partnership between U.S. and Romania; Mr. Daniel Mariaschin, the CEO of B’nai B’rith International, a leading voice and a forceful advocate for stronger relations between Europe and the United States and an early supporter of Romania’s efforts toward Euro-Atlantic integration; former Ambassadors to Bucharest: James Rosapepe, Michael Guest and Dr. Jack D. Crouch II who paved the way towards Romania’s ascension to NATO and oversaw the first steps of our country took in this alliances; and Honorary Consul General of Romania in Nevada, Ms. Aurelia Roberts.

Pictured here are former U.S. Ambassadors to Romania, Michael Guest and James Rosapepe also presented with a special award at this event for their role in strengthening the strategic partnership between Romania and the U.S.

Among these honorees was Bogdan Banu, President and Founder of Romanians of DC. As noted in the introductory remarks, Mr. Banu was recognized “as a prominent leader within the Romanian community in Washington, DC, where he is well known for his adept leadership and tireless advocacy. Over the past two decades he has galvanized the local Romanian Diaspora into a cohesive community, fostering unity and celebrating cultural heritage. His initiatives, including securing recognition for the Universal Day of the Romanian Blouse and advocating for community interests through organizations like ASTROM and CORA, underscored his commitment to preserving and promoting Romanian identity and fostering cooperation between the United States and Romania.

Beyond his community leadership, Mr. Banu’s influence extends to international diplomacy and democratic governance. In his role as Senior Director at Meridian International Center, he facilitated cross-cultural exchanges and managed programs funded by the U.S. Department of State and USAID, promoting global understanding and collaboration. His multifaceted leadership journey reflects a deep-seated commitment to advancing the interests and cultural heritage of Romanian Americans, while also contributing significantly to broader efforts in international diplomacy and democratic governance.”

Mr. Banu giving his his acceptance speech.

In his acceptance speech, Mr. Banu expressed his heartfelt thanks to Ambassador Andrei Muraru, whose leadership and dedication have played a crucial role in strengthening the relationship between Romania and the United States but also to his team at the Embassy for their unwavering efforts to elevate the strategic partnership to new heights. He also noted that this recognition was particularly meaningful given the presence at the event of NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană who has been his mentor and a source of inspiration from his very first day in Washington, DC as a young intern at the Romanian Embassy. Mr. Geoană’s role in in Romania’s accession into NATO has been pivotal and, as he remarked, what a journey this has been for him starting as Romanian Ambassador championing the country’s bid to join NATO to becoming the first Deputy Secretary General and the highest-ranking NATO official from a former Warsaw Pact country.

Romanians of DC President, Mr. Bogdan Banu pictured here alongside his wife, Ms. Oxana Rusu and NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană.

Mr. Banu went on to note that “This award is not just a recognition of my community work with Romanians of DC, but also a tribute to the entire community here in Washington, DC. It is a testament to the spirit of collaboration and unity that defines us, and I am honored to share this moment with each and every one of you.”

The Awards Dinner, this celebration of NATO membership honoring not only the past but also celebrating a future of continued collaboration and mutual support between Romania and its allies, was supported by generous sponsors including Vodafone, CEC Bank, Exim Banca românească, eMAG, Kaufland, UiPath, and Transgaz.

Fellow honoree from the Romanian community, Ms. Lia Roberts, Honorary Consul General of Romania in Nevada, pictured here alongside Mr. Dorin Tudoran, dissident and writer and President of Romanians of DC, Mr. Bogdan Banu.

Following the gala, a special anniversary concert took place the following day at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC. The chosen venue has a special symbolism since it was the sight of the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty 75 years ago, on April 4, 1949. Also organized by the Embassy of Romania to the U.S. in partnership with Procred Music, the concert titled “Faith, Freedom and Friendship: Celebrating 20 Years of Romania’s NATO Membership” featured a remarkable musical journey performed by dozens of soloists from the Procred Music choir, instrumentalists, and a lineup of Romanian and international music celebrities. The concert highlighted Romania’s return to the system of values from which it had been estranged by post-World War II politics, marking a significant milestone in its history.