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August 14, 2022

FM: There is moral connection between Schengen and corruption

Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi told MPs yesterday that there is a moral connection between Schengen accession and corruption level in Romania, so if corruption is dropping, the country’s chances to join the border-free zone on purely technical criteria are automatically growing.

During a hearing in the Chamber of Deputies’ defence committee, Baconschi also said that the accession date, March 2011, should not be regarded “as the end of the world,” meaning that if Romania doesn’t join Schengen then, it never will.

When asked whether the current Interior Ministry scandal, which resulted in the replacement of several high ranking officials, could affect the accession process, Baconschi underlined that the staff changes are normal, but refused to make any other comments.

He also said that he had talks with officials from EU states that are sceptical about Romania’s joining Schengen, such as France and The Netherlands, and that he had a meeting in Brussels on Monday with his Finnish counterpart, who assured him of Finland’s support. The minister added that the last contracts for Schengen accession will be completed in December and that a total of 99 per cent of European funds allocated for this process has been used.

Baconschi also said that he will soon go on a visit to France, to prepare a future visit of President Traian Basescu. France has been one of the most vocal opponents of Romania’s accession to Schengen in March next year. Various French officials said recently that Romania and Bulgaria’s accession should be delayed at least until the European Commission publishes its next report on the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism on justice reform. But Romanian authorities insist that Schengen accession is a technical process which should not be connected with other issues.

Baconschi was supposed to be accompanied to the Chamber of Deputies’ hearing by Interior Minister Traian Igas, but he was replaced by the head of the Interior Ministry’s Schengen Department, Marian Tutilescu. The ministers of foreign affairs and interior were then scheduled to be heard by the Senate as well.

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