The new apple of discord in the bilateral relationship between Romania and Hungary, the fence, has continued to dominate statements made by officials of the two countries.
While Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry refused to receive a protest note from Hungarian ambassador Zakonyi Botond, when he was summoned at the ministry headquarters on Wednesday, Budapest went on with its plans to build the barbed wire fence, and announced on Thursday new details about this intention.
The fence Hungary plans to install along its border with Romania is closer to reality, after causing massive controversy between the Bucharest and Budapest authorities.
The Foreign Minister of Hungary, Peter Szijjarto, announced on the Kossuth public radio station Thursday morning that the fence at the border with Romania would be 70-km long. The intention of the Budapest authorities is to deploy the fencing in order to keep clear the immigrants who wish to enter Hungary from Serbia. Minister Szijjarto explained that human traffickers operating along the border with Serbia were already re-considering their routes because of the fence that had been built there and the pressure would shift in Romania’s direction.
The fence will start at the Hungarian – Serbian – Romanian border, the Hungarian official added.
The Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry has sent the message that building a fence between two EU Member States that were also strategic partners was not a politically correct gesture, or one in line with the European spirit, and noted that the position had been communicated to the Hungarian party.
Romania ‘s Foreign Ministry accuses Hungary ambassador of trying to misrepresent purpose of his being summoned
The Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry explained on Wednesday it could not accept receiving a protest note from Hungarian ambassador in Bucharest Zakonyi Botond, when he was summoned at the ministry headquarters on Romanian Minister Bogdan Aurescu’s instruction.
“Given the purpose for which ambassador Zakonyi Botond was summoned at the foreign ministry’s headquarters – i.e. to communicate Romania’s position on Hungary’s plans to raise a fence on the Romanian border – according to the diplomatic practice, receiving such a note could not be accepted. Actually, the Hungarian side sought to misrepresent the purpose of the ambassador’s being summoned by handing in the above-mentioned note, which is unacceptable both in content and form for the Romanian side”, the ministry said in a release to AGERPRES.
Foreign Affairs Ministry’s State Secretary George Ciamba summoned Zakonyi Botond on Wednesday to inform him upon the stance of the Romanian side referring to a series of last days’ evolutions.
The summoning was made on behalf of Minister Bogdan Aurescu, and the aspects communicated concerned “the announcement by the Hungarian side on the project of erecting a fence at its border with Romania; the unacceptable statements by Hungarian Foreign Affairs Minister, Peter Szijjarto to Romanian Prime Minister, Victor Ponta; the private visit to Romania of Katalin Szili, commissioner of the Hungarian PM in the state secretariat for the national policy within the Prime Minister’s Office (September 8-10, 2015)”.
During the talks, the ministry said, the Romanian side advanced with priority the preoccupation about the obvious trend of the Hungarian side “to lure Romania in an artificial dispute,” capable to substitute to the problems the Hungarian officials have to manage in the current European context, marked by the migrants crisis.
MAE considers there are no elements or circumstances justifying revision of treaty with Hungary
However, despite the bilateral diplomatic tensions emerged so far, Romania’s Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE) believes there are no elements or circumstances justifying the revision of the Treaty of Understanding, Cooperation and Good Neighbourliness between Romania and Hungary, and that Romania has no obligation under any international treaty to grant territorial autonomy along ethnic lines, MAE reports in press statement released on Wednesday.
Autonomy along ethnic lines is not part of the European standards in terms of protection of national minorities, MAE argues.
“The documents mentioned by those who propose the revision of the treaty to justify the amendment of the bilateral document include recommendations and evaluations lacking mandatory juridical value and which, consequently, don’t impose on countries an obligation for territorial reorganisation or guaranteeing territorial autonomy along ethnic lines. Moreover, the suggestion publicly voiced on adding to the treaty a provision that ‘the national minorities have the right, at the request of their political organisations, to cultural autonomy or, in the regions where they hold a majority, to the creation of some autonomous administrative authorities with a special status, guaranteed by law, in accordance with the operating European models,’ depends on the sovereign decision of states on good governance and domestic organisation, without being a topic of negotiation with other states, including of regulation under international bilateral treaties,” MAE points out.
MAE reiterates Romania’s commitment to the European values and respect for the international and European rules in terms of protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, as well as the fact that this topic has been a constant item on the agenda of the Romanian – Hungarian dialogue.
“It is worth noting that there is a form of dialogue between Romania and Hungary agreed upon by the two sides in their basic treaty, for monitoring the observance of the rights of persons belonging to the Romanian minority in Hungary and those belonging to the Hungarian minority in Romania, namely the Romanian-Hungarian specialist committee on national minorities. Romania is firmly committed to this dialogue format, insisting on periodical meetings of this committee being held so that the real situation of the two minorities may be fairly evaluated,” the statement reads.
Defence Minister Dusa: Barbed wire fence between states with joint peacekeeping battalion not normal
National Defence Minister Mircea Dusa said at Varsatura Firing Range in Braila County on Thursday that it is not normal to have barbed wire fences between two European Union and NATO states, that also have a joint peacekeeping battalion.
“I do not think it is normal to have barbed wire fences between two states of the European Union, two NATO states and I want to add, between two states that have a joint peacekeeping battalion based in Arad”, Dusa said.
Stroe: PNL demands Romanian and Hungarian authorities to remove the tension in their relations and to find solutions
The National Liberal Party (PNL) demands Romanian and Hungarian autho to remove the tension in their recently aggravated relations and to seek “real solutions”, says PNL spokesman Ionut Stroe.
A press release signed by Ionut Stroe points out that “PNL is surprised at noting the increase of diplomatic tensions between Romania and Hungary, under the circumstances that Hungarian authorities are not giving up their unfortunate, uninspired and Anti-European gesture of building a fence at Romania’s borders, and Romanian authorities, instead of conducting an European approach to the discussions, choose to respond in a popularity-seeking manner, by insults and threats.”
“We would like to remind ‘diplomats’ on both sides of the ‘fence’ that the problem we are confronted with today is a dramatic, humanitarian and complex one. It is, at the same time, an issue of the entire European community and it must be treated in this context, not by individual decisions. We ask Romanian and Hungarian authorities not to start excavating after historical vanities and to work together in an attempt to find an European solution. We note that, as things escalate, the European spirit and the principles we have all adhered to, such as protecting universal rights, providing freedom of circulation and rights for asylum seekers are increasingly ignored. We announce you that the stake of this difficult situation is represented by people and not by fences for self isolation or popularity-seeking interests”, Stroe mentioned.
PNL condemns the acts of violence at the Serbian – Hungarian border and outlines that, under these circumstances, maintaining tension at diplomatic level does not solve the real issues people are facing.
“A unitary decision is needed from behalf of the European Council, both regarding the number of refugees, who should be distributed in a fair manner but, more important than that, of the way exposed countries and countries committing to receive them must act in this crisis, in order to integrate them. You cannot adopt the technique of throwing the issue in the other’s yard by the attempt to forcefully direct immigrants from one region of Europe to another.
The EU countries are willing to decrease the pressure and to receive refugees, but they would do it as a result of a fair and balanced distribution. We are the representatives of European countries and our common values, the European spirit of the policies we have all embraced, should prevail regardless of our personal vanities”, the PNL spokesperson outlined.
Liberals also declared that they would remain “faithful to the idea that solidarity is a two-way street and, more important that the number of refugees ending up in a country or another is establishing a unitary mechanism of asylum and integration based on healthy EU principles.”
“Additional European funds are needed, and Romania, just like any other immigrant-hosting country, should receive them to develop special systems of healthcare, education and eventually, after residence is granted, immigrants may be offered rights to work and free circulation”, the PNL representative pointed out.
“We repeat that, at this time, the discussion should be focused on solutions and not on starting new fronts of conflicts”, the press release also points out.
UDMR’s Kelemen: Romanian-Hungarian tensions should be settled calmly
National leader of the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR) says tensions between Romania and Hungary over a border fence should be settled in calm and rational conversations, warning that the bilateral relationship between the two countries has deteriorated at an amazing pace after the fall of Romania’s Ungureanu Cabinet in 2012.
“I hope that in some days’ time we will return to talk more calmly, because indeed any fence in this part of Europe cannot be a positive thing; it has no positive connotation, at least not in terms of symbolism. But we should also consider the context and we have to say very clearly and decidedly: this fence does not separate Romania from Hungary, does not hamper our free movement in the European area, because the fence is not erected against Romania. (…) The problem is such individual solutions do not solve the problem in the long run. The problem can only be solved at the European Union level,” Kelemen told RFI radio broadcaster on Thursday.
About the exchange of bitter remarks between Hungary and Romania, Kelemen said “the absence of political reasoning leads to such remarks.”
Kelemen also says the bilateral relationship has been damaged for some years and the Hungarians of Romania are caught in the middle amidst the tensions between the two countries.
MAE reports control resumes at border between Austria and Hungary
Romania’s Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE) informs the Romanian nationals who are in, transiting through or contemplating travelling to Austria that Austrian authorities have decided to resume control at the border with Hungary, namely at the border checkpoint at Hegyeshalom and Kophaz.
MAE says travel time may be affected because of the daily developments at the border between the two countries, the cancellation of local trains and road jams.
“Given also that the situation can change rapidly, the Romanian nationals are recommended to enquire into the updated travel conditions and traffic on the main road and railway infrastructure portions of Austria by visiting Austria’s Roads Administration – www.asfinag.at; Austrian Police – www.polizei.at and Austrian Railway Corporation – www.öbb.at,” shows a MAE release sent to AGERPRES.
MAE also reminds the Romanian nationals to check its web page www.mae.ro and that they can use a mobile application ‘Calatoreste in siguranta’ (Safe Travelling) that offers travel information and recommendations as well as the possibility of being notified about unexpected developments.