In several interviews with the French media, the Romanian minister of Foreign Affairs tried to dissociate the accession to Schengen from the Roma issue.
In a statement granted to RFI France, Foreign Affairs minister Titus Corlatean (photo) said that France received EUR 4.4 bln for the programmes aimed at the ethnic Roma and for social inclusion, while Romania was allocated only EUR 500 M during the budgetary term 2007-2013. Rhe Romanian minister FM insisted on turning down the statements of French politicians who pointed the finger at the big sums allocated to Romania from the European budget for the inclusion of ethnic Roma. “We used this budget, which is not allocated only to Roma, for social inclusion, but there is a big difference between the European budget allowances,” said the head of the diplomacy, adding that the expulsion of European citizens “does not represent a solution.” Titus Corlatean explained that Romania and France set in place a mechanism of cooperation on social inclusion. He evoked the good cooperation – in terms of police and justice – between the two countries and conveyed Bucharest’s availability to supplement the number or police officers dispatched to the French capital. “We are willing to send an additional number of policemen to Paris in order to fight crime,” Corlatean mentioned, adding that criminals only represent a minority. “The large majority of Romanian expatriates has been very well integrated with the French society, for several years,” the FM emphasised.
In an interview with L’Express, minister Corlatean points out that there is absolutely no connection between the integration of the Roma and Romania’s accession to the Schengen space. “As I already told my French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, we can understand that the matter of the Roma is a sensitive issue in the political debates currently going on in France. However, contrarily to what I read in the French press, I insist on explaining that there is absolutely no connection between the social insertion of the Roma and the accession of Romania to the Schengen Space. All European citizens have the right to move freely across the European Union, no matter if a state belongs or not to Schengen. This is a fundamental principle of the European construction!” Corlatean explained. “Furthermore, I consider it would be bad for our bilateral relation, which relies on a long and consistent common history, as well as a real political and cultural affinity, to become prisoner of an electoral calendar. We concluded with France an ambitious strategic partnership which we want to develop even further and which implies a strong reciprocity. If the present French government is no longer interested by this reciprocity, we must be informed – and not through the media,” Corlatean added.
French politicians recently made a series of statements on the Roma issue and Romania’s accession to Schengen. Several French officials said that “the conditions for Romania to join the Schengen zone on January 1st 2014 are not met,” invoking the Roma issue as argument.
In this context, President Traian Basescu said Friday that he believes that the efforts aimed at the integration of the Roma must be made at European scale, because Romania cannot prohibit the free movement of its citizens on ethnic criteria. The head of state on Friday received, at the Cotroceni Palace, Rabbi Andrew Baker, the personal envoy of the acting Presidency of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for the fight against anti-Semitism.