NAIROBI – President William Ruto on Wednesday received credentials from newly appointed Romania Ambassador to Kenya Serbu Gentiana at State House, Nairobi.
At the brief ceremony, President Ruto said relations between Kenya and Romania have been growing over time, making way for the exploration of opportunities in trade, investment and education.
“We are looking forward to escalating our ties to cover other areas such as tourism for the mutual benefit of the two countries,” the President said.
Ambassador Gentiana will also double as the Permanent Representative to UNEP and UN-HABITAT.
She replaces Ambassador Dragos Tigau, who was recalled in June after making racist monkey-slur remarks at a meeting of Eastern European envoys at United Nations Office in Nairobi.
In recalling its envoy to Nairobi, Romania Foreign Affairs said any racist behavior or comments are absolutely unacceptable.
“The ministry has initiated the procedure of recalling Ambassador Dragos Viorel Tigau from his post in Kenya. The ministry deeply regrets this situation, apologizes to all those affected and strongly rejects and condemns any behavior and any attitude incompatible with mutual respect,” Bucharest said in a statement.
The Brief understands Ambassador Dragos has since been dismissed from the Foreign Service.
Prior to her posting to Nairobi, Ambassador Gentiana was the director of the Latin America and Caribbean Directorate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Headquarters since 2021.
She also served as ambassador to Cuba concurrently to seven Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) states between September 2016 to May 2021.
The envoy also previously worked as general consult in Cahul, Moldova.
Kenya and Romania established diplomatic relations in 1968, with Bucharest opening an embassy in Nairobi in 1974. The Kenya embassy in Ankara covers Romania.
Despite the many years, the relations between the two states have not been extensive, a challenge for the new envoy to make the diplomatic engagements more prominent as she starts her tour of duty.
For instance, while President Ruto says the bilateral ties have been growing in trade and investment, Romania exports to Kenya were only $16.7 million in 2022, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade, while Kenya exported goods worth $20.95 million.
Romania imports from Kenya include coffee, tea, mate and spices, as well as horticultural produce, while exports are cereals, machinery and nuclear reactors, as well as textile.
In escalating tourism, as President Ruto noted, the two countries will have a chance to build on the attempts by Kenya Tourism Board to attract Romanian tourists in 2021.
In March 2021, a chartered flight from Romania operated by Tarom Air and organized by Kenyan tour company Private Safaris East Africa landed at the Moi International Airport, Mombasa, the first of nine rotations that were to run up to August 2021.
The 116 Romania tourists were to tour and explore different destinations in the Coast region and other tourist destinations in the country.
Kenya Tourism Board CEO Dr Betty Radier at the time said the flight provided a ray of hope for the industry, which had been battered by the Covid-19 pandemic, further noting that Eastern Europe was a key market for Kenya.