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PM Ciolos visits Netherlands to discuss Schengen Area, migration, bilateral relations

Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos pays an official visit to the Netherlands on Wednesday, to meet his Dutch counterpart, members of the Parliament and of the local Romanian community.

Prior to his visit to The Hague Ciolos says he wants Romania to uphold its point of view on joining the Schengen Area, which is justified by its integration efforts.

“The Schengen Area is a EU integration element, beyond the temporary difficulties encountered in this matter, in these talks. Romania has made the efforts to integrate in Schengen and I don’t think it is a matter of begging when we uphold our point of view,” Ciolos commented on Tuesday night at the Romanian embassy in Belgium, in response to various allegations on this topic.

“I will go to the [Dutch] Parliament, to meet the Parliament’s leadership and the members of the European Affairs Committee, to explain Romania’s priorities as regards the European agenda and the bilateral cooperation, and also to answer some questions, as I know that the Dutch government’s position often depends on the Parliament’s attitude and position; so a direct dialogue with Parliament members seems important,” he declared.

Asked to comment the recent stance of the Netherlands against Romania’s accession to the Schengen Area, the prime minister said, “I also know Dutch are very pragmatic and they are people who make decisions based on argumentation, and – leaving aside any expectations – it is important to boost the direct dialogue with the Dutch authorities and directly explain some things, directly answer some questions; afterwards, I think the political decisions to be formulated will consider these matters. The Netherlands is not just one minister, one prime minister; there are more decision makers in the Netherlands, therefore it is important to be able to approach this dialogue directly, too.”

Ciolos admitted he was “surprised” to find out from the Foreign Affairs Ministry that no Romanian minister has visited the Netherlands officially in the past ten years. “It was all the more the right time to organize this visit,” he added.

As regards his meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Wednesday, Ciolos mentioned that it was scheduled since last December, and that he intends to take advantage of the fact that the Netherlands currently holds the EU presidency to explain Romania’s goals for joining the Schengen Area, for the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, and for stopping illegal migration.

“I want to discuss matters on the European agenda, especially migration. It is very important to us that this project succeeds and we stop illegal migration and have the outer borders of the EU protected, because by this border protection we are protecting ourselves and prevent possible migration routes through Romania,” the premier said.

The bilateral cooperation will also be on table; Ciolos mentioned that “the Netherlands is an important economic partner for Romania, both in terms of trade and of Dutch investments in several areas. (…) I want to signal that we expect a more active presence of the Netherlands in several areas.”

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