Romania’s President is the one to go to the European Council meetings, while for new proposals a mandate is needed from the Legislature, Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu told Digi 24 private television broadcaster on Sunday evening.
Asked who represents Romania in the Council meetings, Melescanu said: “The technical answer is given by two decisions of the Constitutional Court, since the mandate of President Traian Basescu, when it was decided, (…), two decisions of the Constitutional Court according to which Romania’s President goes to the European Council meetings. In case there are economic or financial matters, the Prime Minister can go. In both cases, however, there must be a mandate from Parliament when proposals or new stands in Romania’s foreign policy exist.”
The Romanian chief diplomat said that “the institution truly committing Romania in terms of foreign policy is Romania’s Parliament, where by presenting the governance programme the proposals and action directions of Romania in relation with the European Union are adopted.”
Asked about the internal tensions during Romania’s presidency of the Council of the EU, Melescanu said that there is a proposal according to which such disputes mustn’t become a topic connected to the role Romania will play at the Council of the EU.
“In the latest negotiations, political consultations that took place last year, [Senate] President Calin Popescu-Tariceanu made a proposal on accepting a moratorium during the presidency, when internal disputes that come up shouldn’t become topics of Romania’s presence as president of the Council of the European Union,” Melescanu said.
“Imagine a border with Romania outside and Bulgaria inside Schengen”
Romania’s chief diplomat told Digi 24 private television broadcaster on Sunday that Romania and Bulgaria will most likely join the Schengen area at the same time.
“Romania and Bulgaria are syamese brothers, if you allow me. (…) We have joined the EU together, we have received together the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, we were both proposed to have an admission into Schengen process. Think how could a border between 700 and 1,000 km long, the Danube, where Romania would be outside Schengen and Bulgaria would be inside Schengen, could work. There are things that from a practical point of view, from my point of view and from a technical point of view, cannot function,” the Romanian Foreign Minister said.
He added that Romania meets the technical requirements for this goal.
“As a political message, I believe we must very clearly follow the idea that the access to the Schengen area is a matter related to observing some technical norms which Romania has been observing and we want to see why, what are the reasons for which it wasn’t allowed,” Teodor Melescanu also said.
“It’s in the interest of the Netherlands that Romania will be in Schengen. Their exports, such as cut flowers, can wither very quickly if something happens at the border “
He stated on Sunday that he explained to his Dutch counterpart that Romania’s accession to Schengen is in the interest of the Netherlands. He gave the example of the Dutch exports, such as the cut flowers that “can wither very quickly if something happens at the border”.
“My discussion with the Dutch Foreign Minister consisted in presenting him very clearly which are the benefits for the Netherlands, in the case of Romania’s accession to the Schengen Area, since we don’t have big problems with the free movement of people. We don’t have problems with the movement of the capital and goods, and so on. We have some problems at customs, where a truck stays for two or three days to be able to pass the Schengen border with Hungary, in Romania and from Romania to the Schengen Area. From this point of view, I said it is in the interest of the Netherlands that Romania will be a Schengen member state, given that it is one of the most important economic partners we have. Their exports in Romania, such as cut flowers, can wither very quickly if something happens at the border and the system no longer works. There are also great benefits for them if Romania joins the Schengen Area”, Teodor Melescanu stated for Digi 24 on Sunday evening.
He added that our country “is, in fact, one of the countries which are actually acting as if they already were in Schengen”.
“We have information exchanges on visas, on problems with people with a pedigree that might cause problems. Therefore, we are contributing very seriously, and from this point of view I believe it is also the interest of the western countries that Romania will join the Schengen Area as soon as possible”, Melescanu explained.
Foreign Minister also said that his Dutch counterpart Stef Blok explained to him that Romania wasn’t allowed to join the Schengen Area because there is a great reluctance right now in the Netherlands, at political level, regarding the expansion of the European Union or receiving other member states in the Schengen Area.
“The Dutch person gave me an answer which, well, I don’t want to enter into a dispute with other countries. He said to me that right now, there is a great reluctance in the Netherlands, at political level, regarding the expansion of the EU and receiving other member states in the Schengen Area, because there are so many problems. They also have, as many western countries, populist, xenophobic, Eurosceptic parties, which already began to have a certain importance in their relevant political society, being taken into account. This was the only answer. It’s not a good moment for their internal politics”, Melescanu explained.
On the occasion of his visit to Bucharest in September 2018, the Dutch PM stated that although the Netherlands doesn’t agree with Romania’s accession to the Schengen Area, his country supports our country in many other issues related to the bilateral cooperation and the involvement of the two states into the European project, in the context in which Romania holds the EU Council Presidency from the beginning of this year, for six months.
The final decision for Romania and Bulgaria’s accession must be unanimously taken by the European Union member states.
“Romanians deserve fair justice; Romania second in complaints to ECHR, after Russian Federation”
Romanian citizens have the right to benefit from a fair justice, an autonomous justice, Minister of Foreign Affairs Teodor Melescanu told Digi 24 private television channel on Sunday evening, also underscoring that “Romania comes second by the number of complaints filed with the European Court of Human Rights, after the Russian Federation.”
“Romanian citizens have the right to benefit from a fair justice, an autonomous justice, and also, as much as possible, to benefit from even more than the legal norms in Romania, which is precisely what we are trying to do during this time with the modifications that we are trying to bring to certain normative acts, and we also need to consider that fact that, right now, Romania comes second by the number of complaints filed with the ECHR, after the Russian Federation, which proves that we also need to consider the provisions of the international treaties such as the European Convention of Human Rights when making decisions at justice level,” said the head of diplomacy.
He also spoke about the message sent to Romania by the leader of ALDE in the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, on the occasion of the taking over by Romania of the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, and described the message as “an encouraging one.”
“In the second half of his speech, he also makes very clear references about the rule of law in Romania, the need to modify the provisions of the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code, including such provisions that refer to the law regarding the activity of the non-governmental and the other organisations. I assure you that ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats) will clearly adopt these ideas, considering also the fact that Romania needs a functional rule of law right now, based on compliance with the laws adopted by Parliament, and not based on protocols, and trials, which for some bring convictions and for others acquittals, while evidence is missing in both cases,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
He also added that the leader of ALDE in Romania, Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, was ‘among those who were very loud when it came to the need of strengthening rule of law in Romania, justice independence and ensuring the best functioning of justice, so that the citizens will trust justice again.”
The leader of ALDE in the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt also wished Romania good luck at the presidency of the Council of the European Union “during critical times,” when several legislative negotiations must be brought to an end before the European elections.
In his message on Thursday on his official Facebook page, Verhofstadt also refers to the government’s commitments and the place of Romanian Liberals in the European ALDE family.
“Romania takes over the presidency of the European Union in a critical time, when there are several such legislative negotiations that need to be brought to an end before the European elections. I wish them good luck. At the same time, the government needs to meets its commitments related to the rule of law: reform of justice, criminal code and the law on NGOs must reflect all the recommendations made by the Venice Commission and they must be assessed by this organism before coming into force. The Romanian Liberals promised to follow this path and we expect them to do it. If they do this, they will have their well deserved place in the ALDE family. If they don’t, they won’t,” said Verhofstadt.