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Right Direction | The US visa waiver program and Romanians: An interview with Aldous Mina

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ALDOUS Mina was born in 1979 and grew up in Norfolk, Virginia. He is a graduate of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia (B.S., International Business) and American InterContinental University/AIU in Schaumburg/Chicago, Illinois (MBA, International Business). He received international business training in the United Kingdom (England/London, Scotland, Wales), Ireland (Dublin) and Israel (Jerusalem).

Tiberiu Dianu

Mr. Mina worked for the U.S. Peace Corps in Romania (economic development specialist, 2007), World Bank (financial analyst, 2013). He has served in the federal government in both Republican and Democratic administrations in Washington, DC (financing project manager, White House’s initiative on the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act) and private sector (contractor, Booz Allen Hamilton, Northrop Gruman, Maersk and Maximus, Premier Global Council Group).

He is the author of four books on global markets and faceconomics.

During the period of October 3 and 4, 2019, Aldous Mina attended the annual ALIANTA/The Alliance Gala, in Washington, D.C., at the Conrad Hotel and the Romanian Embassy, respectively. https://alianta.org/

On October 4, 2019, the Alianţa organization announced the launching of a new initiative, The Visa Waiver for Romanians, in order to support efforts in the U.S. Congress to end discrimination in the U.S. Visa system against Romanian citizens. Currently, Romania is one of only four European Union countries which are not part of the U.S. Visa Waiver program, which allows EU citizens to visit the U.S. without a visa.

With that occasion, Mr. Mina granted me an exclusive interview.

1. Mr. Al Mina, you will be running for the U.S. Senate for Virginia in 2020 and you also, from what I understand, have served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Romania a while ago.

Yes, Sir.

2. Romania is one of the only four EU members currently excluded from the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. Can you tell us more about the advocacy campaign to allow Romanians to visit the United States without a visa?

I think their advocacy initiative comes in many tier-and-levels of, you know, domestic and international policy for the U.S. It builds up on the relevance of an interaction among people groups, Romanians and Americans, to learn from one another and increase our understanding of that culture and community. Because America is going through a transitional period. Every single one of us came to America, you know, from various parts of the world. And we need to be able to explain to the world that, if we are going to be at that leadership position as a country, we have to embrace everyone. You know, especially Romanians that are willing to contribute here, and want us to be a part of their community. I was a former Peace Corps volunteer in Romania and everyone there embraced me, loved me, and shared their cultures with me. So, I think, this is a perfect time. Yes, it’s just… I’m all for it, if there’s more than I can do, I will definitely want to partake in it.

3. Very nice, Sir.

Sure.

4. The next question: in your opinion, what do Romania and Romanians have to do to make this U.S. Visa Waiver Program an achievable objective?

Well, there has to be a will to be a part of this. And I think, it’s not difficult to be a part of this [Visa] Waiver initiative if we can convince the U.S. government, as well as our communities, that it’s timely. You know, for the longest time, Romania has been a part of the European Union for since 2007. And yet we haven’t given them access to the U.S. market, just as we have given access to people from France, Portugal, Spain, and UK to come to the U.S. So, you know, in order for us to extend a leaf of diplomacy to the Romanian public, as well as to the Romanian government, we should acknowledge the fact that they are our partners within the alliance, the NATO Protocol, they are a part of the NATO alliance country, and therefore we should give them access and opportunity to learn about us, Americans, and, hopefully, they can take that back, they can take that experience back to Romania and help them influence their local community in Romania, to understand how Americans are. Because there are still a lot of gap within culture. And, so, this is a perfect timing. And I am all for it.

5. Thank you so much. The last question: Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has met with American President Donald Trump twice, in June 2017 and in August 2019, and every time the U.S. Visa Waiver was a topic of discussion.

Right.

6. How do you think this issue will be eventually resolved?

Well, you know, politicians have their own thing. Unfortunately, they don’t fully understand the dynamics and ramifications of their actions and the trajectory of those actions after they leave office. Therefore, it’s up to us, as local citizens, to identify the potential and the value within that collaboration. And for me, my initiatives in Romania have always been in economic development. Because I’ve seen the potential in Romania, I’ve done interviews throughout Romania, where I’ve explained and underlined the process of developing a structure for foreign direct investment, market creation, and, you know, economic development. So, I think, if we were to, you know, foresee the future, if we were to look at a magic eight ball, I think Romania is going to be one of the countries that is going to be at the top within that region in terms of economic development and, you know, the list of emerging markets to look at, and pay attention to.

7. Thank you so much. All you have said was very, very encouraging. Thank you so much.

Thank you, Sir. I appreciate your help.

8. You are welcome.

Yes.

Tiberiu Dianu has published several books and a host of articles in law, politics, and post-communist societies. He currently lives and works in Washington, D.C. and can be followed on Medium. https://medium.com/@tdianu

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