President Klaus Iohannis said on Tuesday that the Western Balkan region will be one of the priorities of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
“We talked about the heavy files on the EU agenda. Migration is a very important subject in this context and Romania is making efforts to move forward in this highly complicated area. We reiterated our common support for EU’s policy of merit-based enlargement to the Western Balkans, according to the capacity of each country in the region to fulfill the accession criteria. In this context, we highlighted the fact that the Western Balkan region will be one of the priorities of the Romanian Presidency of the European Union Council,” Iohannis told a joint press conference delivered with his visiting Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor.
Slovenian President, on an official visit to Bucharest, was welcomed on Tuesday morning by his Romanian counterpart with military honours at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace.
“Mr President, we welcome you with a little snow,” President Iohannis told his Slovenian counterpart.
“A topic that has come today to our attention, as it is in the attention of the entire Europe, was the Brexit. We are expecting the results in the British Parliament, but the subject will probably remain for long very high on the agenda. We both want Brexit to begin with an orderly withdrawal, that is through the approval of the agreement to be voted upon and we are looking forward with great interest to the outcome of the vote this evening,” Iohannis told the joint press conference.
“We agreed that we must further stimulate both exchanges and mutual investments. Given that Romania is holding this semester the Presidency of the Council of the EU, the European agenda naturally had an important place in our discussions. (…) We expressed our commitment to a cohesive and united Union. The motto of the Romanian Presidency – “Cohesion, a common European value” – strongly reflects this vision. The May 9 Summit in Sibiu will be a key moment in the process in the process of defining the Union’s future priorities. We want the Sibiu meeting to be a framework for a consensual discussion among the member states, that will generate a clear vision for the EU’s strategic agenda,” Iohannis said.
In his turn, the Slovenian President said that Slovenia and Romania have very good economic, political relationships, as well as positive ties in multiple other areas.
There are no issues requiring very intense political efforts, nor do we have sensitive issues between us, said Borut Pahor.
This two-day visit, which comes just a few days after the official takeover of the Council Presidency by Romania, represents the expression of our support for Romania and of our willingness to do everything in our power to help Romania in these six months to achieve everything possible, to maintain confidence in a common European future, said President Borut Pahor.
“We see that in some countries there is a rather Eurosceptic sentiment and this European momentum is losing power. This is why I want to see a revival of the European Union, because in this way we will guarantee the prosperity and future welfare of our children. I hold a very modern opinion and I told President Iohannis that in our country we will do everything in our power to enhance the sentiment of confidence in the European project”, the Slovenian President said.
“Together with the President of Croatia, we co-chair the Brdo initiative which implies the cooperation of the former Yugoslav states. Before the Sibiu Summit we will meet at the Tirana Summit in Albania, and I asked President Iohannis to closely follow the preparations for this meeting that will be driver of hope and confidence that the Western Balkan states can solve many bilateral subjects among them, in order to guarantee security in this part of the world and to become attractive for potentially joining the EU. On the one hand, we are considering the enlargement of the EU, and on the other hand we cannot deny these states the hope that one day they will be able to join this European project”, said Borut Pahor.
The talks between the two presidents also focused on the Three Nations Initiative meeting that will be held in Slovenia in June and which, according to the Slovenian President, will be attended by more than ten leaders of state, senior US and European Commission representatives.
Referring to the Eastern Partnership, the Slovenian President said that in his opinion the current reality does not rise to expectations, and we should not pass this responsibility to others, expect others to sort things out for us, but all those who believe that today, more than ever, the EU is strong and important for guaranteeing our prosperity, must shoulder the effort to make this happen.
Iohannis: Schengen accession impossible without consensus, everyone putting work into this project. Pahor: I truly want Romania to be part of this area
President Klaus Iohannis also said on Tuesday that Romania’s Schengen accession is not possible without consensus.
“Schengen accession is not possible without consensus and we are all putting work into this project,” Iohannis said at a press conference delivered together with his Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace, when asked whether he has a joint strategy with the government for achieving this goal.
The head of state said that progress is required in persuading certain states that Romania is prepared to join the border-free area.
“Everybody agrees that Romania’s place is in the Schengen Area. We are the most convinced of all, because Romania’s Schengen accession would definitely improve Schengen security, but until then we need to convince some of our friends and partners, but at the same time, we need to make some progress ourselves. If both happen in the near future, we have chances to solve the problem,” Iohannis said.
In his turn, Slovenian President Borut Pahor pointed out that if Romania wants to join the Schengen Area, it must meet all the criteria set by the European Union.
“As a former member of the European Council between 2008 and 2011, I recall the debates on these criteria Romania must meet in order to be able to integrate into the Schengen. Romania has fulfilled the criteria set in the past for the countries seeking membership, but now we see the Union has set supplementary requirements for Romania. If it wants to become a part of the Schengen, Romania must meet these criteria, but Slovenia considers that all states have to meet the same criteria. I truly want Romania to be part of this area”, said Borut Pahor.