PM Ponta: French authorities assured me they support Romania’s accession to the Schengen Area, in two stages.
President Traian Basescu warned that Romania is on the verge of saying “good bye” to Schengen in 2014. “We are on the verge of saying ‘good bye’ now (editor note to Schengen). Why? All this prosecutors’ issue will be rubricated in the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM)… in the upcoming report. (…) I agree we have problems on Justice area,” said Basescu yesterday, at B1TV, arguing the rejection of criminal pursuit in the case of Vosganian, Borbely or Paul Dobre “are strong evidence” to that effect.
“We know best where our own boot pinches, things which politicians are well familiar with. I can agree with part of the problems invoked by foreign politician, including the French, with some I don’t”, also said the head of state. Traian Basescu illustrated that he cannot agree with the French Premier regarding the borders securing topic. “Mr. Prime Minister, be nice and tell me if the equipments that you sent us to secure our borders are not good. If Romania has bad securing equipment, that means we are talking about a trick. Maybe it’s not that, maybe he refers to the fact that the Romanian border is not secure because of the human factor. Then, the French PM informs his other colleagues from Schengen Area and they carry on some staff testing actions, which Romania has already passed them anyway,” the President said. He admitted that “no border is perfect”, and Romania stands under the suspicion of corruption at borders, but this also needs to be proved.
On the other hand, Premier Victor Ponta on Wednesday evening told a TV show that the problem of the Roma people living abroad would not be solved by Romania’s not joining the Schengen Area. He added that in the two discussions he had with French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault the latter told him he supported Romania’s accession to the Schengen Area, but in two stages.
“I have met Mr Prime Minister, who is a very serious person, twice this year – once in Paris and once in Bucharest. On both occasions, the Prime Minister said he supported Romania’s accession to Schengen in two stages – starting on January 1, 2014 with the air and maritime borders, and afterwards, when everything is solved, with the land borders. We did not speak of anything else. We did not have any private talks, these were public statements,” Ponta also said.
“If they changed their mind meanwhile, they could have not done this but because of the internal dispute, but it’s a lie to tell the French that they will get rid of Roma if Romania does not join Schengen”, Ponta added. His explanation comes as earlier on Wednesday, French PM Jean-Marc Ayrault had said that he discussed with Ponta twice, and informed him that Romania would not get a decision on Schengen until January 1, 2014 provided all conditions are met. At the same time, the Romanian opposition thinks Schengen is an emergency issue. PDL Vice-President Alin Tise asked yesterday for the Schengen parliamentary committee’s reactivation, He also asked Interior Minister Radu Stroe to go to France right away and talk to his French counterpart, Manuel Valls, about Romania’s accession to Schengen.
Schengen, Roma topics, on the agenda of Romania-France parliamentary talks
Amid the latest tensioned developments on Roma and Schengen, the chairman of the France – Romania Group of Friendship, Jean-Pierre Dufau started a visit to Romania on Wednesday that will help him draw up an annual report on France’s budget earmarked for immigration, integration and asylum and held talks with Romania’s Foreign Ministry officials and members of the Select Parliamentary Committee on Romania’s Schengen accession.
State Secretary for European Affairs with Romania’s Foreign Ministry (MAE) George Ciamba on Wednesday welcomed Dufau’s visit. “In the context of the tensed developments of late in France, both officials voiced concern over the false connections between this issue and fully distinct issues, such as Romania’s accession to the Schengen Area,” MAE reports in a press release. The two officials also pointed to the need for joint actions to be continued and bilateral cooperation to be expanded, including through being better concerted at the EU level, according to the release.
During the meeting with members Select Parliamentary Committee, the Romanian MPs asked Jean-Pierre Dufau to convey to the French authorities (…) the message that the Gypsy issue is not specific to Romania, but is a European issue, and that the decision-makers in Bucharest make all the efforts to address particular problems such as the social inclusion of Roma ethnics and crime prevention. The Romanian MPs also highlighted the danger of nationalism and populism that is becoming increasingly visible in Europe, amid the economic crisis that on the other hand leads to a rise in crime.
In his turn, Dufau stressed that the integration of the Roma is possible provided that there is cooperation at European level between the country of origin, the country of destination and the European institutions. “Paradoxically, we believe that the decision will come from bottom up, from the grassroots, and that it won’t be just at political level. (…) In France, Romanian police showed extraordinary mobilization. (…) All these actions need to be strengthened,” said the French parliamentary official. He conveyed a message of encouragement to Romanian lawmakers, saying that they should ‘not let the guard down and put everything that we already obtained at jeopardy.’