DIPLOMACY

President Iohannis: There is wish to preserve Schengen Area, Romania acting as technical member

President Klaus Iohannis said in Brussels on Friday that Romania, though not a Schengen Area member, is acting as a “technical member” of the borderless space by providing the protection of its own borders, a fact “contributing to the safety of the European Union borders”.

Following the talks held at the autumn meeting of the European Council, the Romanian leader underscored there is wish to preserve Schengen Area.

“The main topic of the discussion was migration and, as such, this time around we focused on the external matters relating migration more than on the internal matters, where ‘internal’ means inside the EU. We discussed important issues regarding the safety of the external borders and by ‘external borders’ we understood the external borders of the Union, not of Schengen Area. Romania is not a member of Schengen Area, but we will be. There is wish to preserve Schengen Area and Romania is acting as a technical Schengen member. We control the external borders of Romania very well and this certainly contributes to making the EU borders safe”, Iohannis told reporters in Brussels.

Speaking of the source of the refugees in Europe, the president explained that while most of them come from Syria, countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan have also become a “source”, which he said is “unacceptable”.

“A major issue that we discussed is the one related to the current refugee wave, with the main source being Syria, but we found with concern that an increasing number of refugees come from utterly different areas. For example, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where Romania also contributes to peace-making by an important number of troops – over 600 people from Romania are committed to the process in Afghanistan. In our opinion, it is unacceptable that a country in which we invest very many resources in order to speed up the peace process should become a source of the refugees coming to Europe. It is a topic to which we will have to find common solutions”, he pointed out.

Iohannis added that the relation between the European Union and Turkey has made significant progress following the talks in the Council, with a common EU-Turkey action plan on the refugee crisis having been approved.

“Turkey is a transit country, that has received over two million refugees and has asked for and will get the Union’s help so as to better manage the refugee camps. The European Council approved the EU-Turkey common action plan, which had been negotiated by the European Commission with the Turkish side and which calls for improved cooperation with a view to stemming the wave of refugees”, Iohannis said.

The Romanian head of state explained that also approached at the Council gathering was the negotiation between the EU and Britain.

“A matter of which we were [merely] informed, but one that preoccupies us is the EU negotiation with Britain. In our opinion, Britain clearly belongs in the EU, without however reopening the treaties as part of the negotiations, without renegotiating the European Union’s base. Also in this context, we believe that the freedom of movement of labour cannot be questioned”, Iohannis said.

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