Dutch counterpart Timmermans, on the CVM: We are frowned upon because we are strict, but we are also fair.
Romania expects a favorable decision on its integration into the Schengen Area before the end of this year, the Romanian Foreign Minister announced after talks with visiting Dutch counterpart Frans Timmermans on Monday. “Romania’s accession to the Schengen Area stands as a priority and a legitimate right of our country as an EU member state. We have made efforts to fulfill the criteria of the Schengen Acquis, and of course when political conditions for a unanimous decision within the EU are met we have every interest to see this decision adopted in the two-step formula mentioned earlier; hopefully before the end of this year,” Corlatean said. “We have also discussed the [Cooperation and Verification Mechanism] CVM issue and the progress mentioned in the Report [presented in Brussels on January 22], which confirms the positive trend of the efforts in this area. We have pointed out the Romanian authorities’ determination to continue reforms and guarantee the independence of the judiciary. We have underlined (…) that we don’t see the connection between two important matters – the CVM and Schengen,” Titus Corlatean underlined.
The Foreign Affairs Minister also said that the Romanian authorities would make efforts to consolidate the position of top investor Holland had in relation with Romania. “I pointed out the Romanian side’s interest in consolidating the position of top investor Holland has in relation with Romania. (…) Currently, Holland has a total investment capital worth over 7 billion Euros and this represents over 20 percent of the total foreign investments in our country, with approximately 4,500 Dutch companies active in Romania. We plan to reduce the trade deficit, given the fact that last year there was an increase in trade, an increase of Romanian exports included,” Corlatean said.
Referring to the CVM report, Timmermans stated that the Dutch authorities are strict and know that they are sometimes frowned upon because of this, but at the same time they are fair too, pointing out that the report contains “several very encouraging elements.” “Our position is always the same, we are strict and we know that sometimes we are frowned upon for being strict, but we are also fair. And I believe that where we are seeing progress in Romania we have to admit it,” Timmermans said.
The Dutch Foreign Minister also pointed out that The Hague will conduct “a full evaluation” of the report, after which it will discuss in Brussels, “in the spirit of cooperation and of the desire to solve the problems together.” Timmermans emphasized that the Netherlands has been “part of the judicial reform in Romania for many years,” in the sense of “offering expertise, exchange of judges.” The Dutch official also stated that the Dutch judges that worked in Romania have returned and have stated that they have seen “positive changes.” This “encourages us to continue this cooperation because it is beneficial for both countries,” Frans Timmermans pointed out.
In what concerns the Schengen file, Frans Timmermans stated that he took note of the position of Romanian authorities and of their willingness to join the Schengen Area by the end of 2014. “I fully understand what you are saying, we are prepared to look at positive developments. (…) The Dutch government will tackle this thing (Romania’s desire to join in 2014 – editor’s note) in the classical style, with a strict and fair attitude and I hope that this will lead to positive results,” the Dutch Foreign Minister said. The Netherlands is the country that opposed Romania’s and Bulgaria’s Schengen accession the most, linking it to the existence of positive CVM reports.
Asked about the Netherlands’s intentions towards the port of Constanta if Romania decides to privatize it or opt for private management, the Dutch Foreign Minister said that the Netherlands is prepared to share its experience since this would be beneficial particularly for Rotterdam. “Irrespective of what the Romanian authorities decide about the Port of Constanta’s future, it doesn’t depend on us. It depends on the Romanian authorities,” he pointed out. The question comes against the backdrop in which Constanta Mayor Radu Mazare stated in April last year that he would be interested in collaborating with the Port of Rotterdam after the Port of Constanta will be transferred to local authorities, and pointed out that he had spoken with the Mayor of Rotterdam who in his turn was interested in cooperation between the two ports.
Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans paid an official visit to Bucharest at the invitation of his Romanian counterpart Titus Corlatean. He also met the Speaker of the Lower Chamber Valeriu Zgonea and Prime Minister Victor Ponta.