New FM to go to The Netherlands for Schengen talks

Newly appointed Foreign Minister Cristian Diaconescu told RFI yesterday that he will go to The Hague to have talks about Schengen accession with his counterpart and Dutch officials. Diaconescu added that 10-12 Dutch lawmakers could also come to Romania to personally assess the country’s preparedness for joining the border-free zone.

When asked how he plans on convincing The Netherlands to stop blocking Romania’s accession to Schengen, Diaconescu replied, “I would not say that The Netherlands is blocking [our accession]. The Netherlands is a country that reads very closely the European Commission’s report on how the legal system works in Romania. So it’s not only a rhetorical persuasion that’s necessary, but also internal progress and clear procedures in order to explain the irreversibility of progress.”

The minister also said that based on previous contacts with Dutch authorities, he believes there is willingness to find a solution. In the context, Diaconescu said cooperation with The Netherlands on the customs system and the legal system would be very useful, as would be a “substantial political action not only on government level, but on the level of other political vectors, most notably Parliament.” The Netherlands continues its opposition to Romania’s and Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen, insisting that the two countries have to make more significant progress in reforming their legal systems and fighting organised crime and corruption. Dutch authorities even opposed a two-stage accession for Romania and Bulgaria, as advocated by France and other Schengen area members. Bucharest and Sofia rejected the Dutch criticism, insisting that they have met all technical conditions for accession, a fact also confirmed by the European Parliament in a resolution last year.

When asked when he believes Romania could join Schengen, Diaconescu said that in his view, “an appropriate decision” will be made this year. “As to what the decision will consist of, please allow me to first assess the situation on the field,” he said. The minister did not say when his visit to The Netherlands could take place.

In separate comments to the public radio channel yesterday, Diaconescu also talked about the postal voting project initiated by his predecessor Teodor Baconschi. Diaconescu said electronic vote could be a solution given that Romania cannot extend its consular network to all areas of the world where its citizens live. The minister said there are several other countries that use the electronic voting system.

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