*Romania, France share the same European priorities. Solutions need to be found in Bratislava to ensure safety and protection, especially for borders
The relation with France represents a priority to Romania, President Klaus Iohannis said on Tuesday, while the French head of state, Francois Hollande, underlined that the Strategic Partnership between the two countries must be strengthened.
President Iohannis showed that Romania has an outstanding partnership with France.
“We share the same vision about the development and strengthening of the Strategic Partnership. We talked about the need to support and deepen several successful aspects of the sectoral cooperation, where I would mention the economic cooperation. We agreed to intensify dialogue,” the Romanian head of state said at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace, where he held a joint press statement with his French counterpart.
In his turn, France’s President Francois Hollande mentioned the common ties between Romania and his country, highlighting the Romanian-French collaboration on a political, economic and cultural level and in the defence area.
“Here, in Romania, I feel that I am at home,” Hollande said.
Francois Hollande showed that under the Strategic Partnership the two countries want to have common policies and in the economic area France wants to contribute with solutions in the new technologies, environment and transport areas.
France’s President thanked Romania for the solidarity shown in the case of the terrorist attacks, but also for the support granted in Mali.
France’s President Francois Hollande has begun his state visit to Romania on Tuesday morning, having been welcomed at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace with military honours.
The French President was expected on the official esplanade at the Cotroceni Palace by Romanian head of state Klaus Iohannis, and a delegation made up of Foreign Affairs Minister Lazar Comanescu, Romania’s Ambassador in Paris Luca Niculescu and presidential advisers.
After the two states’ national anthems were performed, France’s President saluted the Guard and Protocol Regiment.
Previously, Francois Hollande laid a wreath of flowers at the Unknown Soldier’s Monument in Carol Park of Bucharest.
Also on Tuesday, the two heads of state went the ELI-NP (Extreme Light Infrastructure – Nuclear Physics) Research Centre within the Horia Hulubei National Institute for R&D in Physics and Nuclear Engineering (IFIN-HH) in Magurele, where they visited the Laser Control Room and will participate in the opening of the economic event “Future French-Romanian partnerships.”
Moreover, Francois Hollande paid a visit, together with Romanian PM Dacian Ciolos, to the Airbus Romania helicopter plant. The French President also had scheduled an official lunch with the Romanian Prime Minister. At the end of the day, Klaus Iohannis will extend a state dinner.
The most recent state visit of a French President in Bucharest was that of Francois Mitterrand in 1991.
Iohannis: Romania has long been acting as a de facto Schengen member, we feel France’s support
Romania has been acting for a long time as a ‘de facto’ Schengen member, President Klaus Iohannis said on Tuesday at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace.
“With regards to the Schengen matter, Romania is close to France. I have tackled this matter today with President Hollande and I believe that this approach is part of a very solid, sustainable action within the European Union. (…) The matter of the external and internal security is obviously not only the concern of the European citizens, but it is at the same time the concern of the politicians. Romania is not yet a member of the Schengen Area and therefore we have to take care ourselves of our borders,” said Iohannis at the Presidency’s seat where he delivered a joint statement with his French counterpart, Francois Hollande, who is paying a state visit to Romania.
President Iohannis added that Romania ‘has coped very well’ with the migrant crisis.
“This shows that Romania knows very well how to defend the EU’s external border and that Romania has been acting for a long time as a ‘de facto’ member of the Schengen Area, as it is involved in all formats dealing with the Schengen Area and border security. In this respect (…) it is in the Union’s benefit that Romania bring its expertise to this space. Out of practical reasons, this could not be achieved at once. (…) We must start the appropriate approaches in Brussels so that everybody benefits from the Romanian airports’ security. (…) It would be beneficial for everybody that this first step be made as soon as possible. (…) In a nutshell, yes, we feel supported by France,” said Iohannis.
Hollande: We have to stay in and join NATO actions; Europe should reorganise inside NATO
Europe should possess defence capabilities and the required industry and means that will allow it to act, French President Francois Hollande said Tuesday in Bucharest.
”Most of the European countries are NATO members, and we have to stay in and join the NATO actions, each of them playing their roles. But Europe should reorganise itself inside the Alliance. It cannot count on the capabilities of some external power. Europe should have its own defence capabilities and the required industry and means that will allow it to act. We are not doing anything outside it. Inside the Alliance, we have to make sure Europe is defended. We have to make sure that we can respond. If one day we are threatened, we have to be autonomous regarding our choices, and France is attached to this respect for the Alliance as well as to the spirit of autonomy. And I believe all the European countries should share the same position inside the Alliance that they have a role to play. I have attended the NATO Summit, where Mr Iohannis also took part, and this strategic position is what was premised from discussions,” Hollande told a joint news conference with Iohannis at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace in reply to whether there is a of a European army weakening the interests of NATO.
In his turn, President Iohannis said European defence is an important issue, and external security should be guaranteed.
‘(…) European defence is an important, very important issue. External security needs to be guaranteed. On the other hand, we have very many NATO programmes and projects, and what we want is not to be competitors or replace it, but a synergy between Europe and NATO’s initiatives to benefit both,’ said Iohannis.
The two heads of state were also asked about how quickly Europe can have its army and if such army could also be tasked with securing the EU’s external borders. Hollande said ”security and defence start with border protection,” also emphasising the importance of investment.
”We have already increased coast and border patrolling, and in the next months we will have to increase the staff once again. Border protection and defence also mean boats that can save lives in the Mediterranean Sea. (…) We have to invest more. The efforts of the main European countries do not suffice. (…) France has the largest defence spending in Europe, but it has to act so as all the countries may get more involved in the defence of Europe in a larger sense. We have to invest, to make sure that there are capabilities, that we have technologies, and there is also a second effort we should make in an area where France has taken some responsibility. (…) Defence against terrorism requires Europeans to be organised differently than in the past. We have reached a strategic point, a strategic moment, and Europe should be able to overcome and move on to the next level in its defence organisation and funding,” said Hollande.
Iohannis said Romania agrees with and supports the French-German common defence initiative, adding that better coordination, better equipping and more reinvigoration in Europe’s defence industry are required.
”Romania is aware of that and ready to participate. Equally, I think it would be better for us to say that we do not want some initiative that would replace the NATO format, but that we want an initiative that completes and works together with the NATO format, something that will surely lead to actual improvements in the very long run in the European Union’s capabilities to defend itself and intervene in crisis areas,” added Iohannis.
Iohannis: Romania acting since long as ‘de facto’ Schengen member, we feel France’s support
Romania has been acting since long as a ‘de facto’ Schengen member, President Klaus Iohannis said on Tuesday at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace.
“As far as the Schengen issue is concerned, Romania stands close to France. I have tackled this matter today with President Hollande and I believe this approach is part of a very solid, sustainable action within the European Union. (…) External and internal security is obviously not just the European citizens’ concern, but is at the same time the concern of politicians as well. Romania is not yet a Schengen Area member and therefore we have to manage our borders on our own,” Iohannis said at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace where he delivered a joint statement with his French counterpart Francois Hollande, who is on a one-day state visit to Romania.
President Iohannis added that Romania “has very well handled” the migrant crisis.
“This shows that Romania knows perfectly well how to defend the EU’s external border and that Romania has been acting since long as a ‘de facto’ member of the Schengen Area, as it is involved in all formats dealing with the Schengen Area and border security. In this respect (…) it is in the Union’s benefit that Romania brings its expertise to this space. For practical reasons, this cannot be achieved at once. (…) We must take as soon as possible the due steps in Brussels for everybody to benefit from the Romanian airports’ security. (…) It would be in everybody’s interest that this first step is taken as soon as possible. (…) In a nutshell, yes, we feel France’s support,” said Iohannis.
On his part, French President Francois Hollande emphasized the importance of external border control, pointing out that Romania’s equipping with the Passenger Name Record (PNR) program is “crucial” in the fight against terrorism.
“In three days, President Iohannis and I will be in Bratislava [at the Summit of EU leaders]. We share the same priorities. The first is to protect the Europeans, ensure their security, control external borders. Each country must make an effort – Schengen Area member countries, but the others, aspiring to membership too. Under the PNR program Romania got equipped for the control of airport passenger transit and thus acquired an important structure at hand for our security. For us it is a crucial point in the fight against terrorism, this is why we need to hold talks in Brussels, to see how Romanian airports can contribute their efficiency to the Schengen Area,” said Hollande.
At the same time, the President of France said that solutions need to be found in Bratislava to ensure safety and protection, especially for borders.
“Germany and Italy have joined us. We must make sure (…) that European defence is not just a principle we cite, but it must be implemented in stages. The Defence ministers of France and Germany have already presented a joint plan. Together with Romania, we set the groundworks for a defence industry. So the top priority in Bratislava is ‘Why are we together all 27?’, because the UK has chosen to exit. Well, it is for pursuing together certain principles, certain projects, to ensure the Europeans’ security and making sure that Europe has ambitions of prosperity, of growth. These are the stakes of the Juncker plan. And I want it to get backing so that in the years to come we have the investment wave in digital technology, energy transition, that will prepare us for tomorrow’s economy,” added Hollande.
Hollande: We need to make sure the Minsk agreements are only way to stability, security, peace
In Bucharest on Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande talked about Romania and France’s foreign policy priorities, emphasizing the importance of the Minsk agreements.
“President Iohannis and I also approached international affairs, such as Ukraine. We need to make sure that the Minsk agreements, which are the only solution, are the only way to stability, security and peace,” Hollande said.
He also said that efforts need to be made in order to stop violence in the Middle East.
“Regarding the Middle East, we need to support efforts to stop the violence, because what is happening right now is a violation of human rights, and we need to find a stable political solution for Syria,” the French President added.
Hollande thanked Romania for the support during terror attacks in France.
“I want to thank Romania for its solidarity with France in the aftermath of the attacks, and also for its support in Mali and other situations. There are risks to Europe, to Europe’s security, and we have to talk about it in Bratislava [at a summit of EU leaders],” Hollande pointed out.
“Solving Roma issues is a matter of dignity, responsibility, solidarity”
Solving Roma issues is “a matter of dignity, responsibility and solidarity,” French President Francois Hollande told a joint press conference in Bucharest after meeting Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.
“We, President Iohannis and I, approached the issue of the Roma, a matter that has had political consequences in France a few years back. This is a matter that we’ve approached since 2012 and we found some answers, but, on the other hand, in order to control the movement of people, we need to ensure that at least a part of these people are going to return to Romania – we need to support the fight against poverty in order to be certain that these people live in decent conditions in their country,” the French president said.
He added that Romanian institutions need to make efforts so that this social issue does not become an instrument for racist speech.
“It’s a matter of dignity, responsibility and solidarity, and we have to avoid these issues being used for xenophobic purposes,” Hollande added.
Iohannis to French companies: Have faith in Romania’s economy; we can achieve more and better
Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis on Tuesday told Romanian and French business leaders to have faith in Romania’s economy, as more can be used for Romanians and French people.
“The economic trust Romania is enjoying today is consistently reflected on the dynamics of foreign direct investment, which advanced 23 percent in the first half of 2016. There are premises for the trend to continue into the next years, once the business environment has gained in attractiveness and predictability. Romania is and will remain fiscally competitive, which is good to Romanian entrepreneurs and foreign investment alike. We want to continue cutting through red tape, extending organisational transparency and quality for the business environment. We want to do our best to wisely manage our assets, including workforce quality and innovative potentials,” Iohannis told a business forum called “Future French-Romanian partnerships,” where he was joined by visiting French President Francois Hollande.
Iohannis said trade between Romania and France exceeded 7 billion euros in 2015, with Romanian exports worth 3.7 billion euros and French imports worth nearly 3.5 billion euros. He also said that France is on a leading position in the plans of foreign investors in Romania, with direct investment in excess of 7 billion euros.
The Romanian president also said that cooperation between the two countries should be extended to include the automotive industry, the aeronautics and defence industries, as well as nuclear power and energy overall.
“Romania is very attentive to the incentives animating foreign investors, the organisational quality of the business environment. I believe that this is the context in which we can move on to the next level of cooperation between Romania and France,” said Iohannis.
In his opinion, the achievements of Romanian-French cooperation over the past 25 years are reasons for satisfaction.
“You, the French and Romanian companies, have played the most important part. Walk on the same path and have faith in Romania’s economy! We can achieve more and better for Romanians and the French people alike,” Iohannis told the forum attends.
France’s Hollande: We want France to contribute solutions for Romania’s economy
France’ President Francois Hollande wants his country to contribute solutions to Romania’s overall economy.
“For more than 20 years, France has understood that Romania wants to develop, that Romania wants to open up, that Romania wants to integrate itself with the European Union, and France has accompanied Romania on its journey,” Hollande told a joint news conference with his Romanian counterpart Klaus Iohannis in Bucharest on Tuesday.
He mentioned that there are close to 450 French enterprises operating in Romania that have created more than 100,000 jobs for Romanian workers.
“We want France to be able to contribute solutions to the Romanian economy overall in the areas of new technologies, start-ups, in energy transition, the environment and road as well as railway transportation. We have to act so as to also cooperate in airport matters and all that relates to city planning, because our Romanian partners are waiting for answers,” Hollande explained.
French companies contributing to high-tech development in Romania
France’s President Francois Hollande said that French companies have been contributing to the economic development of Romania in high-tech sectors, and that in doing so they have not been guided by more advantageous workforce.
“French companies have been contributing to the economic development of Romania in high-tech areas. Together with Romania, we have chosen to position ourselves in the sectors of the future, not just in sectors where the workforce would have been seen as more advantageous,” Hollande told a Romanian-French business forum at Magurele.
He added that the French presence is not limited to large companies, as it also includes small and medium-sized enterprises, extending thanks to Romanian officials for having facilitated their access to the Romanian markets.
On the other hand, Hollande urged French companies operating in Romania to make use of structural funds provided by the European Union.
“Structural funds make up more than 20 billion euros. It all depends on what Romania envisages to do together with the EU, but French companies (…) should capitalise on all opportunities. There are many areas and we have to build infrastructures and prove that our enterprises have the experience and expertise required for vast projects and also to anticipate energy transition,” said Hollande.
We’ve discussed free movement of seconded staff; France will not tolerate abuses
France’s President Francois Hollande said in Bucharest that in his conversations with Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis he approached the free movement of seconded workers and the European directive related to it, emphasising that France will not tolerate abuse.
“The freedom of seconded workers was a matter I’ve discussed with President Iohannis. That is a principle justifying the creation of Europe. (…) The principle of free movement does not mean abuse, excess, fraud or making use of illegally employed workers. We have had a discussion on the European directive regarding seconded workers, and together we have to make sure the directive will be useful to both economies. France will not tolerate abuses, and we started a discussion to find the necessary compromises,” Hollande told a Romanian-French business forum at Magurele.
President Iohannis awards National Order of the Star of Romania to French counterpart Hollande
President Klaus Iohannis awarded the National Order of the Star of Romania, in rank of Collar, to his French counterpart Francois Hollande.
The decree was published in the Official Journal on Monday evening.
The Romanian head of state decorated the French President “as a sign of high appreciation for the personal contribution to developing the friendship and collaboration relations between Romania and the French Republic, for the voiced understanding and interest towards the Romanian history and culture.”
The decoration was awarded taking into account the Foreign Minister’s proposal. The National Order of the Star of Romania is the highest distinction of the Romanian state, and the rank of Collar is the sixth from bottom to top and the highest rank of the Order.