Romania’s and Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen area would be a real win, President Klaus Iohannis said at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace on Wednesday, during a joint press conference with his Bulgarian counterpart Rumen Radev who was on an official visit to Romania .
Asked about the discussions he had with France’s President Emanuel Macron and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, referring to Romania’s accession to the Schengen area, Iohannis underscored that Romania, as well as its neighbour country, Bulgaria, have been prepared to join Schengen for six years.
“We approached the Schengen matter and we are exactly on the same vibe. Both Bulgaria and Romania have been prepared ever since 2011 from a technical stand, a fact certified by the European institutions, to access the Schengen area. It didn’t happen because the Schengen area isn’t coordinated by the European institutions, but the approval of the member states is required, and here, there have been diverging opinions,” the Romanian head of state said.
He spoke of the efforts of both countries to ensure security at the EU borders.
“Neither Romania nor Bulgaria stopped in 2011. We further developed the capacities and the fact that both states have dealt with the migration wave very well – where we must admit, Bulgaria had a little less harsh and less complicated position – shows that we aren’t only theoretically prepared to defend the Union’s external borders,” Iohannis said.
The head of state said that the Schengen area would benefit from the expertise of the two countries.
“Romania’s and Bulgaria’s accession would be a real win for the Schengen area. From this point to the actual accession, of course, a European political path is needed. We are both interested. We have discussed these matters and I always discuss them,” the President said.
In respect to the talks with Merkel and Macron, Iohannis said that “they both showed openness.”
“In this respect, we continue to be optimistic that we’ll be able to move further with the problem solved, in a reasonable amount of time,” Iohannis said.
In his turn, the Bulgarian President underscored the need for Romania and his country to join Schengen.
“Both Bulgaria and Romania will continue to persuade the European institutions and each state that the only manner for the European citizens to feel safe is for Romania and Bulgaria to be part of the Schengen area. We cannot ensure this security level in respect to defending the external borders unless we benefit from the common Schengen information system and the Schengen procedures,” Bulgaria’s President highlighted.
President Iohannis: Romania, ready to share corruption combat expertise with Bulgaria
Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis said Wednesday that Romania is ready to share with Bulgaria its expertise with the fight against corruption.
At the end of official talks with visiting Bulgaria’s President Rumen Radev, Iohannis said they talked about his recent visit to Washington DC, about shared interest in a strong transatlantic relationship, as well as about challenges in the Black Sea zone.
“We exchanged opinions on justice reforms and the rule of law, and I hailed Mr President Radev’s interest in the area, telling him that Romania is ready to share with Bulgaria its expertise with the fight against corruption,” said Iohannis.
Iohannis added that the talks also focused on the development of economic ties and sectorial projects in various areas, with emphasis on energy and transportation.
“As you may know, achieving energy security is a main priority with both countries. The commissioning last year of the Giurgiu-Ruse gas interconnector was an essential step in that direction and we want to see progress with joint projects, especially the BRUA gas pipeline [Bulgaria-Romania-Hungary-Austria],” added Iohannis.
He said he also discussed with Radev the Romanian community of Bulgaria.
“I voice conviction that the two twinned communities – the Romanians of Bulgaria and the Bulgarians of Romania – are important bridges between Romania and Bulgaria. That is why advancing their identities is very important. It is in our mutual interest that the rights enjoyed by the Romanian community of Bulgaria be protected, especially the right to formal mother-tongue education, the same as the Bulgaria community of Romania enjoys,” said Iohannis.
He also mentioned having discussed Bulgaria taking over the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2018 and Romania doping the same in 2019.
“I had a substantive exchange of opinions with Mr President over cooperation inside the European Union. The two countries holding the rotating presidency separated by one year – Bulgaria in 2018 and Romania in 2019 – is a special opportunity, and thus we discussed the need to strengthen dialogue over preparations for holding the presidency,” added Iohannis.
About the international agenda, Iohannis said talks focused “naturally on transatlantic cooperation and cooperation inside NATO. Naturally, we discussed my recent visit to Washington DC and our common interest in a strong transatlantic relationship and joint NATO projects.”
“We also discussed challenges in the Black Sea zone. This was a conversation with multiple valences, an excellent one, and I want to thank Mr President Radev for his visit to Romania and for our today’s excellent discussions,” concluded Iohannis.
Bulgaria’s Radev: Romania’s corruption combat model has proved efficient
The Romanian model in the fight against corruption has proved efficient, and Bulgaria should take over principles of it in order to drastically reduce corruption, Bulgaria’s President Rumen Radev said Wednesday at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace in Bucharest.
He praised Romania for corruption sentencing and property returning. “The Romanian model is successful,” he said.
Radev added that Bulgaria cannot copy the system, but it can find inspiration from it.
“We have to take over such principles so as to drastically curtail corruption in Bulgaria,” added Radev, saying that he has President Iohannis’s backing.
“First of all, I want to say that the Romanian model has proved efficient. I have read about quantity indicators here, particularly concerning sentencing and recovering property,” he said.
Radev highlighted the details of the Romanian anti-corruption system that make it successful. He added that Romania and Bulgaria will exchange expertise in the area.
The Bulgarian President also mentioned Bulgarian-Romanian economic ties. “They are the outcome of this intense dialogue between the state leaderships of the two countries. Last year, bilateral trade was worth almost 4 billion euros, a real success,” he said adding that tourism is the most successful component.
“Last year, more than 1,100,000 Romanians visited Bulgaria and more than 400,000 Bulgarians visited Romania. That means our citizens want to exchange opinions together rest and work together, which is the most important premise for the development of both countries,” said Radev.
He also mentioned the relationship between the two countries in energy industry. “There is still much to be done to improve the infrastructure related to the Ruse-Giurgiu bridge over the Danube and building the third bridge, resuming ferry-boat service and opening new border checkpoints that will boost the development of business communities and bilateral trade,” said Radev.
He also mentioned Bulgarian-Romanian joint energy plans. “I am convinced that gas pipeline between the two countries will be finalised on schedule, allowing two-way gas deliveries to Central and Eastern Europe, which is very important to our region,” said Radev.
President Iohannis, alongside with Bulgarian counterpart: I believe there is no problem in our relationship if we relate to Russia
Romania’s President stated on Wednesday, in a joint press statement with his Bulgarian counterpart Rumen Radev, that there is no problem in the relationship between Romania and Bulgaria, “if we are to relate to Russia.”
“I believe that there is no problem in our relation if we are to relate to Russia. On the one hand, Bulgaria certainly has commercial ties, on the other hand, it is very clear that we are both firm in this regard, we are together in the European Union and we are together in NATO,” the head of state said.
Iohannis underscored again that NATO is an alliance that doesn’t have strategies aimed against Russia.
“In order to be very clear, NATO is a defensive alliance. We don’t have any exercise or strategy aimed against Russia. We do not prepare in any way to take action against Russia, such as certain voices of Russia wrongly claim, that someone would be preparing with certain packages against Russia. It’s wrong,” the head of state said.
In this regard, Iohannis talked about the air base in Deveselu.
“Unfortunately, pretty often, lately, the air base in Deveselu is referenced. The Base in Deveselu has a strictly defensive role and it is not, in any way, aimed against Russia,” the head of state said.
Iohannis also added that he came to conclusions, after the meeting on Wednesday, regarding the Romania-Bulgaria collaboration within the EU and NATO.
“We realize that there is absolutely no problem in this relation and we are very content that we managed today to underscore that we are together and have objectives together both in respect to the European Union and NATO,” Klaus Iohannis concluded.