Romania made a mistake when it voted on the Justice and Home Affairs (JAI) Council on the same side as Hungary and Slovakia, against compulsory refuge quotas, said Prime-Minister Victor Ponta on Monday. He also added that he was ready to take responsibility for the mistake, alongside President Klaus Iohannis.
‘I believe this episode has passed and I think we have learnt that, in Europe, you don’t necessarily have to be with Hungary against the rest and you need to understand what you can gain’, said the premier during a B1 TV programme Monday night.
When the host stepped in to stress that he had said it was a mistake that Romania voted against the mandatory immigrant quotas during the JAI Council, V. Ponta replied: ‘Yes, I am taking responsibility for it, alongside the president. I and the minister of interior. There were several of us, we talked about it quite a lot’.
Asked how the mistake was possible, the premier said the media pressure also had its contribution.
‘I believe the media pressure also made its contribution. The president made an announcement, I believe it would have been difficult for him to retract it’, added Ponta.
‘A number of families of refugees may enter the country by the end of the year’
Victor Ponta also said on Monday that Romania was making preparations to receive the refugees who would be allocated to our country under the mandatory quota system and, according to the prime-minister, they would reach the country ‘in the coming period’. Ponta also said the Romanian state would offer assistance to Serbia.
Asked when the first refugees would reach Romania, Victor Ponta said they were expected ‘in the coming period’, and added it was ‘possible’ that families of refugees might come to Romania by the end of the year. However, he could not give a date for the actual beginning of the transfer of immigrants.
‘We do not have this information right now, a number of families might enter the country by the end of the year’, said the PM, who added that two refugee camps had been installed in Timis and that the authorities were ‘looking for facilities’, the main problem being that they would need to be integrated.
‘We have two camps in Timis, to accommodate the refugees that will come under the quota arrangement. We have been looking for accommodation facilities. The problem is that, if they are granted asylum, they become citizens equal to us, except for the right to vote. For the rest, they are free to go where they want, we cannot even contain them in Romania is they do not wish to stay, they are free to go to hospital, at least theoretically, the problem is they do not have health cards. Theoretically, they are free to go to school, practically they do not have school records, theoretically they are free to work, practically, we do not recognise their studies. They are even unable to open a bank account’, the PM also explained.
In the same context, Victor Ponta noted that ‘the biggest mistake’ would be for the refugees to be kept on permanent camps.
‘The biggest mistake would be to keep them on permanent camps. There are no conditions, the expenditures are very high. I have now realised that, since 2006, we have been allocating 3 lei per day and 60 bani for expenditures. That’s embarrassing and shameful. The idea is to try to integrate them, help them find homes. On paper we have a lot, in reality, however, we do not have this kind of experience and culture’, Ponta said.
The chief of the Executive also spoke about the sorting of the refugees, which, under international arrangements in place, is the job of the authorities in the first country where they arrive, but Romania would also have a say on those who would be allocated to our country.
‘We do have a say, we participate with a set of criteria. I want this to be very clear – there will be no religion criterion. We cannot say who is a Christian, who is a Muslim or Buddhist. The problem is they should be from countries where there is genuinely a conflict – Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan – and they should have families’, Ponta stressed.
Moreover, the PM announced that the Romanian state would offer help to Serbia for the management of the refugee crisis.
‘I think the day after tomorrow (Wednesday – editor’s note) we will offer some help. Our neighbours from Serbia have asked for our assistance. Some (of the refugees – editor’s note) are in Serbia, some are the Turkish-Greek border. At Edirne there is a camp of several tens of thousands of people the Turks won’t let leave. Some have crossed into Croatia and, from there, most went to Sweden, Germany or Austria’, said the premier.
Alina Gorghiu: Victor Ponta, the big proud Orthodox, has become staunchest supporter of Muslim refugees
National Liberal Party (PNL) Co-President Alina Gorghiu attacks Victor Ponta: “the big proud Orthodox has become the staunchest supporter of Muslim refugees.”
“The big proud Orthodox Victor Ponta has managed, in just one year after losing the presidential elections, to become the staunchest supporter of Muslim refugees. Now his public disinformation channels, coordinated by Sebastian Ghita, the sheik of public contracts, no longer broadcast religious and ethnic hatred.
On the contrary. Last year, after losing the presidential elections, Ponta and Ghita experienced the strongest epiphany in the nightclubs in Dubai. Ponta’s care for the refugees knows no bounds, he undergoes surgery only in hospitals in Turkey, he pays official visits only to Arab countries. There’s nothing to blame. I could even praise him for the transformation, for his tolerance and diplomatic openness, if I wasn’t convinced it’s a new stage in his fundamental and incorrigible hypocrisy, after Europe closed its doors upon him. If this isn’t the case then Victor Ponta and PSD should exhibit the same love toward the Romanians that did not have the right to vote in the last elections.
Could it be that the Romanians that were waiting in unending queues were treated, because of the Ponta Government’s fault, just like the refugees on whose shoulders he now sheds crocodile tears? Those people were beaten by gendarmes in European countries not because they were illegally crossing borders but because the Romanian Government had closed the ballot boxes. What were Ponta and Ghita doing? They were celebrating victory, in advance,” Alina Gorghiu wrote on Facebook.