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Black Sea – area of interest for EU, commissioner Damanaki tells officials

Romania has hope in the political statements of solidarity made by European leaders in what concerns energy security, FM Cristian Diaconescu stated during his meeting with the EU Commissioner.

Referring to “projects on getting and transporting energy from and through the Black Sea,” Romanian Foreign Affairs Minister Cristian Diaconescu stated yesterday, at the end of his meeting with EU Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Maria Damanaki, that Romania wants an evaluation and a common approach to them in the EU, Mediafax informs. In her turn, the European official expressed interest in energy cooperation in the Black Sea. The Foreign Affairs Minister also stated that Romania supports “the idea of cohesion in the EU approach that concerns energy security and from this point of view Romania has hope in the political statements of solidarity made by European leaders in what concerns energy security.” Diaconescu and the European official then took part in the “European Black Sea Policies: Consolidating Regional Cooperation” conference, the Minister pointing out that “the EU has rapidly noticed the potential that this maritime basin brings,” launching the Black Sea Synergy ever since 2007. “However we find that the process has not achieved its full potential; progress has been made, but fragmentarily, and our projects need more vigor,” he said. Diaconescu added that “the Black Sea is not a border that separates regional states, it’s an area of convergence of specific interests.” He also underlined that as an EU member state Romania wants “the multilateral development of the Black Sea area, to the benefit of riparian states but also in the European Union’s long-term interest in domains such as transportation, energy, environment protection, maritime security and cultural exchanges.” “We need a new regional approach accompanied by a clear and robust EU offer,” Diaconescu said. In his turn, European Commissioner Maria Damanaki tackled the issue of Black Sea maps that are very difficult to find, pointing out that she found it very difficult to find such a map at the start of her term in office. She said that this is a symptom of the fact that the Black Sea is never looked upon as an independent entity, being instead looked upon as “just a revolving door, a crossroad or a point of contact between several cultures.” The European Commissioner pointed out that this perception has to be corrected and that the EU will focus more on this region. “Nobody should believe that because we have just two riparian states the Black Sea is less important for us. The EC believes that the Black Sea is very important for this region,” Damanaki stated.She announced that she wants to organize a conference in November in Bucharest, a conference focusing on issues that are specific to her term and to which she has invited riparian states and private sector representatives.

Orban: We need more funds for fishing programme

During the same meeting, European Affairs Minister Leonard Orban stated that there are numerous initiatives and opportunities in the Black Sea region but “the EU’s presence is not as visible,” adding that “a more substantial financial allocation” would be necessary for the fishing programme. “Somewhere there still seems to be the perception that the Black Sea is a great neighbour of the EU and not that it is an EU sea in a certain section,” Leonard Orban stated. “At EU level we have an integrated policy for the socio-economic development of maritime regions, however its size related to the Black Sea continues to be limited. We can work on that,” Leonard Orban added. European Commissioner Maria Damanaki tackled the issue of European funds in her turn too, stating that five years after its accession Romania has a very low absorption rate. She expressed her hope that this aspect will be corrected this year. Damanaki underlined that “Romania had many achievements in recent years, the results of hard work.” At the same time, the Commissioner stated that she wants to give Romania a message as a “friend”: “May it overcome the still existing difficulties in what concerns the funds and the MCV. Likewise, I will ask you to support the Commission in lifting borders in the Schengen Area and be sure that the EC will acquit itself of its duties.”

Tutilescu: We hope maritime and air borders will be lifted in September

Marian Tutilescu, head of the Internal Affairs Ministry’s (MAI) Schengen Department, stated yesterday that he hopes a first decision on lifting controls at Romania’s maritime and air borders will be taken in September. “Romania’s Black Sea responsibilities have become increasingly consistent from one stage to another, in relation to Romania’s evolution, first as a NATO member state, then as an EU member state and recently as a Schengen Area candidate,” Tutilescu stated during the “European Black Sea Policies: Consolidating Regional Cooperation” conference. EU leaders recently established that the decision on Romania’s and Bulgaria’s Schengen accession will be taken in September, against the backdrop of the blockage exercised by the Netherlands. The Dutch government claims that Romania and Bulgaria have not made sufficient progress in combating corruption and organized crime.

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