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May 16, 2021

Interior Minister Oprea to JHA Council meeting: Romania disagrees with imposition of mandatory migrant quotas

Romania’s Deputy Prime Minister for National Security, Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea on Monday unveiled to an extraordinary meeting in Brussels of the European Union’s Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) the mandate entrusted to him by President Klaus Iohannis and Prime Minister Victor Ponta to reject on behalf of Romania the imposition by the European Commission of mandatory migrant quotas.

“Oprea showed that under the mandate Romania will take part in the relocation mechanism by taking over 1,705 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece as well as 80 more persons from outside the European Union, but it disagrees with the European Commission demanding mandatory quotas,” the Romanian Interior Ministry (MAI) reports in a press statement sent to AGERPRES.

Oprea is quoted as having told the meeting that Romania supports the need for a joint approach of the migration issue facing some European states, insisting that consistency is needed with the strategic guidelines of an extraordinary European Council meeting of April 23 in relation to the voluntary nature of the EU solidarity measures.

At the same time, the minister mentioned that in order for a new political commitment to be made to intra-EU relocation, “a very careful quantification is needed of all the practical aspects arising from such measure such as financial implications, the state of the national reception facilities, the integration of relocated people with the host countries, the relocation duration as well as aspects of their returning.”

In his conversations with the other interior ministers of the EU and members of the European Commission, Oprea underscored that Romania is an active contributor to the joint security of the European Union, being second in terms of experts operating with FRONTEX and especially by providing security for 2,070 km of the European Union’s external borders, which it does responsibly and acting as a de facto member of the Schengen Area.

Oprea is quoted in the statement as having said, in relation with the situation reported by some European countries, that a wide ranging, integrating and adequately funded strategy is needed that will include both intervention at source countries with economic, social and educational measures, and cooperation with transit countries, which part is crucial in containing massive departures toward Europe.

“The Deputy Prime Minister for National Security and Interior Minister, Gabriel Oprea, said intensifying all measures to fight against human trafficking by consolidating and intensifying exchanges of intelligence and data is extremely important, announcing that Romania is ready to bring an additional contribution to the FRONTEX operative activities as well as the activities of other agencies of the European Union in charge with security,” reads the statement.

Oprea also underscored the importance of triage measures being swiftly taken to identify the people who do not qualify for international protection and returning them in accordance with the relevant international standards.

He mentioned that a permanent monitoring of the developments in similar situations in other conflict areas that could generate massive refugee outflows is equally important, mentioning Ukraine to the point. He said consolidating cooperation with the United Nations Organization is equally important at least in terms of humanitarian aid it can provide to the conflict areas and the peace-keeping missions it can deploy or consolidate in the areas of interest to the European Union, the MAI statement also reads.

“We have always supported the application of the principle of solidarity, and Romania knows how to be solidary with its European Union partners,” Oprea is quoted as having told the JHA Council meeting.

The extraordinary JHA Council meeting attended by the European Union interior ministers and European Commission representatives discuss all aspects included in a package of proposals presented by the European Commission on September 9.

Justice Minister on refugees’ legal status: It is an exceptional situation and must be treated as such

Justice Minister Robert Cazanciuc on Tuesday said that the situation generated by the wave of migrants coming to Europe is an exceptional one, showing that the legal status of the refugee hasn’t been discussed so far at the meetings of the Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA).

“The situation at present isn’t a regular one and we will have to treat it as such, as an exceptional situation. Maybe we shall have to find solutions depending on the European decision, depending on Romania’s current and future capacities,” Cazanciuc said at the Superior Council of Magistrates (CSM) headquarters.

The minister explained that the refugees’ status hasn’t been a discussion topic at the JHA Council meetings he has attended so far.

“The JHA format usually has an agenda for the interior ministers and an agenda for the justice ministers, sometimes with a common agenda, because the capacities are shared between justice and interior in some member states. On the justice component where I participated, such an issue hasn’t been approached, at least so far. We shall see at the next council meeting of October 8,” said Cazanciuc.

About the asylum applications in Romania, Cazanciuc pointed out they are treated on an individual basis. “On this current Syrian topic, things must be seen a little differently, as it is an unprecedented situation in Europe,” he added.

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