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Romanian Foreign and Interior Ministries call upon member states opposing the country’s accession to Schengen to account for their position at the JHA Council. In the country, President Traian Basescu, on the one hand, PM Victor Ponta and FM Titus Corlatean, on the other hand, keep blaming the anticipated Schengen failure on each other.
The Federal Minister of Interior in Berlin, Hans-Peter Friedrich, states in an interview for ’Spiegel’ that, at the JHA Council March 7-8, he will veto Romania and Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen. Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU) wants to prevent a quick entry to Schengen of Romania and Bulgaria as well as the removal of border checks for their nationals. If both countries are let in after the vote at the meeting of the minister of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA Council - a/n), ‘their accession will be prevented by a German veto’, Friedrich said during the interview for ‘Spiegel’, anticipated by a summary run by the online page of ‘Rheinische Post’ on Sunday, quoted by Mediafax. ‘Even a partial entry – meaning just with the airports and sea ports – is out of the question,’ the German minister added. ‘The expansion of the Schengen Area will only be accepted by our citizens if basic prerequisites are secured,’ Friedrich said. ‘This is not the case at this point’, he added. In addition, according to ‘Rheinische Post’, Friedrich also announced measures against the so-called poverty migration. Those coming here ‘to cash social benefits and abuse the freedom of movement’ will have ‘to be prevented from doing that by effective measures’, Friedrich said. One possibility would be ‘to restrict the right of return for individuals we send back,’ he pointed out. Responding to the statements, the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Home Affairs yesterday issued a joint communiqué, asking the member states opposing our country’s entry to Schengen to explain their position during the JHA Council ‘with clear arguments, based on the EU Treaties and Schengen acquis’.
The two ministries remind that Romania has fulfilled all criteria for joining Schengen, under the applicable acquis. ‘This fact has been recognised by all member states and stipulated by the Conclusions adopted by the JHA Council on June 9, 2011. Romania reasserts its position of principle that the process of accession to the Schengen Area does not depend on any other criteria than the ones clearly laid down in the acquis,’ MAE and MAI emphasise in their release. Ex-PM Emil Boc says Germany’s refusal to accept Romania’s accession to Schengen is ‘a new USL-branded success’, and the ‘USL people in charge carry full responsibility for this’. In a statement he made during the PSD District 6 conference on Saturday, Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean said the Government would do its duty regarding the accession to the Schengen Area, but noted that the effort had not been domestically supported by PDL and President Basescu.‘I think issues and dilemmas should be first raised in our own back yard. I would ask the president a political question: I would like to know if, during the talks he had in the context of the Brussels European Council, he did talk to Germany’s Chancellor Merkel to obtain support for Romania’s Schengen entry as I had asked him to,’ Corlatean said on Saturday. According to Mediafax, the FM said President Traian Basescu had contradicted Romania’s internal position and ‘made the fundamental mistake’ of linking Schengen to CVM in order to put pressure on the Government to fulfill his interest in the appointment of the prosecutor general and DNA chief prosecutor.Corlatean: We may no longer be interested in Schengen.
Basescu takes distanceThe head of Romanian diplomacy made a surprising statement on Friday, saying that a possible new postponement of Romania’s entry to Schengen at the forthcoming JHA Council would affect ‘the credibility of the process’ and our country might no longer be interested in it and choose to wait for the invitation to come from the EU. ‘If we do not obtain a fair and legitimate decision, (it mans – a/n) that this process based on time criteria and on a European Treaty is no longer credible. If it is no longer credible, I am no longer interested in being a part of the process. As we have been able to live without Schengen so far, we can continue to live without it in the future,’ Corlatean told Realitatea TV Friday night. President Traian Basescu has reprimanded the foreign minister over his statements. In a note sent by the president’s spokesman, it is pointed out that FM Titus Corlatean’s statement ‘represent strictly the personal opinion of the minister of foreign affairs and can be considered as a proposed position at most’. The President of Romania, Traian Basescu, distanced himself from those statements and reiterated the fact that Romania keeps its entire interest in joining the Schengen Area as soon as possible’, presidential spokesman Bogdan Oprea noted. President Traian Basescu is also inviting Foreign Minister Corlatean ‘to stop making such assertions in order not to create a false perception among the European Union member states regarding Romania’s European agenda.’ Premier Victor Ponta stated however that the Foreign Minister did not voice a personal opinion but expressed the government’s opinion on the Schengen issue. “The government did everything in our power for next week’s decision to be a positive one and I still have hope in this sense. However, if the decision is a new postponement it will be clear that a political solution will be needed from that state that opposes our Schengen accession and we will wait, the Schengen accession will no longer be on the Romanian Government’s agenda as a priority. We are ready and when the political decision is taken in the country or countries that believe our accession should be postponed then we will join, however this will certainly no longer be the first point of discussions between Romania and our European partners, there will be other points but not Schengen,” Ponta said for Mediafax. The Prime Minister added that Romania will be able to integrate faster in Europe and it would be better for President Basescu to shut up and stop making a scandal because he missed all the goals he had and registered a streak of failures. Victor Ponta admitted on Friday evening on B1TV that Romania’s Schengen accession could be postponed again for October, at the request of one or two states that will ask for the decision not to be blocked but to be taken next autumn instead. He explained that this is a decision that “eventually has to do with the way in which interior ministers and certain governments see, in relation to their public opinion, this idea spread by the European mass-media that Schengen is lifted and all Romanians and Bulgarians will be coming.”
PDL leaders criticized Corlatean’s statement too. PDL President Vasile Blaga stated on Saturday in Iasi that Romania should not give up its Schengen accession bid but should give up its Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean who made “irresponsible” statements. PDL MEP Monica Macovei reproached Premier Victor Ponta and Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean with “not caring at all” about the country’s interest of joining the Schengen Area, caring instead “about their own interests – to get rid of the CVM reports and to no longer be asked why they did not kick out from the government the ministers involved in court cases.”