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Europe Day during pandemic: Messages from Bucharest show that there’s no time for populism or grandiose statements, but for European solidarity and unity

Europe Day has been observed every year on May 9 since 1985, when a decision was made at the Milan European Council to create the holiday. The date marks the day on which the Schuman Declaration was issued.

Seventy years ago, on May 9, 1950, five years after WWII, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed, in a speech, to place the production of coal and steel under the control of a common authority, this way to control arms production and make sure that a future military conflict could be avoided. The proposal is seen as the cornerstone of today’s European Union.

 

President Iohannis: In face of pandemic, Romania has once again proven to be a reliable partner

 

“This year we are celebrating Europe Day in a very special context, impossible to imagine just a few months ago. It is the most difficult period for our continent after the Second World War, a time that tests our resilience, unity and humanity. History is showing us that the European project has overcome the challenges of the past, when the answers were the result of a broad joint effort, and how we will overcome the current crisis will profoundly mark our European consciousness and give new meaning to the future of the European Union. European solidarity and cohesion are values of major importance, underpinning the continuity of the European project and the reconnection to the needs and expectations of our citizens. (…) The crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of a common approach, in the spirit of unity and solidarity. In the face of this unparalleled challenge Romania has once again proven to be a reliable partner,” the head of state says in the message.

He recalled that teams of Romanian medics and nurses traveled to Italy and the Republic of Moldova to support efforts to combat the epidemic and that Romania was the first Member State to manage the establishment of a strategic reserve of medical equipment for the entire Union, essential equipment having been already delivered to the most affected areas through this mechanism.

President Iohannis also indicated s that Romania benefits from significant funds in order to mitigate the effects of the crisis, amounting to over one and a half billion euros from the current multiannual budget.

“In these difficult times, we must be aware that our current decisions and actions can decisively influence the strategic direction of the great European family. It is essential to reconfirm, in everything we do, that our vision remains a common one and that, beyond the differences and our natural specificities, we are united by the will to find together sustainable and efficient solutions for the benefit of all European citizens,” said the president.

President Iohannis also recalled that 70 years have passed since the “Schuman Declaration”, based on a common vision on the principles of European unity and cooperation.

“Human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, all these values, which shaped the European project from the beginning, remain just as valid today and take on a deeper meaning now that we are fighting to save the lives of as many European citizens as possible,” he went on to say.

The head of state pointed out that Romania is fully integrated into the great European family.

“Romanians have earned Europe’s respect through genuine attachment to European values and constant support for the preservation of democracy and civil rights. Last year, we marked Europe Day in Sibiu, at a Summit where European leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a united and cohesive Europe, in which the Member States must work together to come up with effective answers to the common challenges. The ‘Sibiu spirit’ remains fully relevant and acquires new values in the face of today’s challenges,” shows Iohannis.

 

PM Orban evokes EU’s need for solidarity

 

Prime Minister Ludovic Orban conveyed a message on Saturday on Europe Day, stressing the EU’s need for solidarity.

“It is 70 years since the then head of French diplomacy, Robert Schuman, read the Declaration that bears his name – a moment whose historical significance for today’s European Union is celebrated on May 9 every year as Europe Day. At a distance of seven decades, the need for solidarity evoked in the text of the Schuman Declaration, when the whole continent was trying to recover from the war, is just as topical now, as the European society and economies are working to return to normalcy as soon as possible after the unprecedented crisis generated by the coronavirus pandemic. (…) We can overcome the pandemic crisis we have been facing for weeks if all other countries overcome it as well. Mutual support and joint action are essential to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and to limit the socio-economic consequences of the current period,” Prime Minister Ludovic Orban’s message reads.

He recalls that, last year, the European leaders meeting in Sibiu, during Romania’s first term as President of the Council of the European Union, sent a firm message of unity and desire to consolidate the European project.

The Romanian Prime Minister emphasizes that European solidarity has proven to work, indicating coordinated actions for the repatriation of citizens of other Member States, patients taken from countries more severely affected to be treated, transport of basic medical supplies or teams of medics who helped their colleagues from other countries to save lives.

“Romania has also been involved in such efforts and we are pleased with the appreciation shown at the top of the European institutions towards the gestures of solidarity of the member states,” says Ludovic Orban.

According to the head of the Executive, the creation of a strategic European reserve of medical supplies through the rescEU civil protection mechanism, the EU-approved economic aid plan for the benefit of Member States, the extension of the Union’s Solidarity Fund also to health crises are proof of the European unity.

“We are confident that other mechanisms will follow to strengthen the health care systems as the European economy recovers and that the European Union’s next financial framework will reflect the new priorities. Strongly attached to its European destiny, Romania supports any efforts towards cohesive development and of the European solidarity, and once we all overcome the critical period let us return to normalcy more united, in a Europe closer to the citizens,” the prime minister goes on to say

 

ForMin Aurescu: Value of the Union’s construction lies in solidarity

 

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bogdan Aurescu, states, in a message sent on Europe Day, that May 9 offers us, as every year, the occasion of a foray into the past and evolution of the European project, pointing out that the value of the Union’s construction lies in solidarity.

He argues that Europe Day also gives us an opportunity to reflect on what the European Union means to all of us, both in ordinary times and in difficult times, such as the current one, caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“May 9 offers us, as every year, the opportunity to make a foray into the past and evolution of the European project. At the same time, it gives us the opportunity to reflect on what the European Union means to all of us, both in ordinary times and in difficult times, such as the present, when the whole world is facing a major challenge, a major health crisis. More than ever it is confirmed that the value of the European construction lies in the solidarity underlying the joint action, coordinated to the benefit of the European citizens. It is not the first crisis the European Union has faced, as the European project has been marked in the recent past by other challenges, such as the economic and financial crisis or the migration crisis, which have all emphasized that such large-scale phenomena cannot be managed individually, but only through common solutions. And, not infrequently, the challenges have overlapped. The lessons of the past have shown that we must remain consistent in responding promptly to the citizens’ expectations, in achieving concrete results, which, as far as they are concerned, are directly, positively mirrored in their support for the European action,” Aurescu said.

The Minister points out that, for Romania, EU membership has brought, in addition to the indisputable benefits deriving from the functioning of the internal market, increased trade with European partners, boosted foreign direct investment, and the natural integration in a space of common values and principles which give the defining note of the European societies.

“Our common achievements are the measure of this perception, as they represent the driving force of the European Union, both internally and in terms of its external action.

At the same time, the Union represents a democratic model of values and principles, which have been and remain fundamental to the prosperity of European citizens. That is why, for Romania, membership in the European Union has brought, in addition to the undeniable benefits deriving from the functioning of the internal market, increased trade with European partners, boosted foreign direct investment, and the natural integration in a space of common values and principles. which give the defining note of European societies. Romanians are still among the European citizens who strongly support the European project. In this pro-European spirit, in the first semester of last year, Romania successfully exercised the Presidency of the EU Council, promoting an ambitious agenda, focused on European cohesion, understood on all its levels – political, economic, social, of the European values,” Bogdan Aurescu also said.

He also recalled the 2019 Summit in Sibiu, concluded by the adoption of a declaration that reiterated a vision focused on a united and cohesive Europe, on the fundamental principles of European action – unity, solidarity, democracy, commitment to common solutions, based on mutual trust and respect.

“Let us remember today that last year, on May 9, Romania hosted, through President Klaus Iohannis, in Sibiu, the Summit on the Future of Europe, concluded with the adoption of the Sibiu Declaration, which reiterated a vision focused on a united and cohesive Europe, on the fundamental principles of European action – unity, solidarity, democracy, commitment to common solutions, based on mutual trust and respect.This ability to act together, in consonance, is all the more important in times of great trial. The current pandemic has greatly tested the European Union’s capacity to respond to such complex challenges, with devastating consequences at the global level. (…) The support we give each other at European level, the support for citizens and the economy are vital. No Member State is so strong as to fight alone in the face of this challenge,” Aurescu added.

At the same time, he reaffirms Romania’s commitment to consolidating a strong European Union at home and capable of acting coherently abroad.

“And because May 9 must not only be a look into the past, but also a perspective towards the future, I reaffirm Romania’s commitment to consolidating a strong European Union at home and able to act coherently abroad, in relation to third countries, its partners in the vicinity, its strategic partners. The European project must continue to be a strong commitment to supporting neighboring partners, in favor of continuing the enlargement policy, and global action, aimed at peace, stability, at promoting the value of multilateralism. Romania will continue to be fully engaged in the European construction and to make a contribution to the consolidation of the European Union, for the benefit of its citizens. The 70 years of European construction have proven the ability of the European project to learn from the lessons of the past and to emerge stronger from each crisis. I am confident that together we will overcome this crossroads and that we will learn the lesson of solidarity, and the Union will thus be stronger, more efficient,” said the Romanian Foreign Affairs minister.

 

Melescanu: Respect for each state’s interest, fundamental element Schuman Declaration was built on

 

Respect for the interests of each state, the sovereignty of each state is the fundamental element on which the Schuman Declaration, the birth certificate of the European Union, was built, affirms former Minister of Foreign Affairs Teodor Melescanu.

“The fundamental values of Robert Schuman’s Declaration – solidarity between Member States, cohesion, mutual support, sovereignty and harmonisation of national interests – are the basis for the functioning of the European system on one condition: that they are respected so that all states enjoy the efforts they are making, nationally, and together within the EU. Respect for the interests of each state, the sovereignty of each state is in fact the fundamental element on which Schuman’s Declaration was built. This Declaration, dated 9 May 1950, is in fact the birth certificate of the European Union,” Melescanu told AGERPRES.

He recalled that the proposal of the French Foreign Minister at the time, Robert Schuman, aimed at the creation of a common body – the placement of the production of steel and coal in France and the United Kingdom under the authority of a common body – and the launch of relations that would gradually lead to the political harmonisation of European countries and the de-escalation of international relations.

“The idea launched by Robert Schuman was accepted by Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Italy, which joined the signing of the Treaty of Paris on 18 April 1951. Thus the factual foundations of the European Coal and Steel Community were established through a European and interstate agreement. And this structure has smoothed the way to the European Economic Community and subsequently to the European Union, which operates on the innovative principles proposed by Robert Schuman. This fundamental idea was that of solidarity between Member States: mutual support and cohesion, as well as respect for sovereignty and harmonisation of national interests among Member States. Moreover, the presidency of the Council of the European Union, successfully assumed by Romania, was clear proof of the need to respect and further promote the principles of Robert Schuman,” Melescanu said.

“We are going through a difficult period at global level in general, but also at European Union level. With all the desire to function as well as possible, the EU and other structures face a number of difficulties and problems. From my point of view, the only way out of this situation is precisely to respect and promote the fundamental principles that were the basis of the Treaty of Paris, launched by Robert Schuman,” Melescanu stressed.

 

Cioroianu: History never stands still

 

Adrian Cioroianu, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Romania to UNESCO, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, states that, “by virtue of our history of the last 70 years”, the crisis generated by the coronavirus pandemic could be “a stage in the strengthening of the European Union” and expresses hope that there are “political figures to rise to the height of this moment” at European level.

“History never stands still. History goes on, as they say. That generation of founders of the European Union is proof to us that people can learn from history. In fact, that generation with Robert Schuman, you were talking about, they were practically suffering the consequences of a disastrous world war at that time. And as states like France, Germany, but equally Italy, each of them had been empires or had the desire to become empires in recent times, they could not return after World War II to the status of, let us say, simple national states. And under these conditions, they realized that a form of aggregation is their only way to remain in what is called great history,” Adrian Cioroianu declared for AGERPRES.

“And it is a generation that today gives its name to the halls in our institutions, or in the European Parliament, or even in the square in Herastrau Park, where we have a Square of Europe – Robert Schuman, Jean Monet, Paul-Henri Spaak, Altiero Spinelli, all of these people from France, Germany and Italy realized that a form of aggregation is the best lesson after World War II,” said the diplomat.

“The conclusion that we must draw today and which, for me, is a source of optimism is that this European construction was born, practically, from a crisis. It was not born in moments of happiness. In 1949-1950, the beginning of the 1950s was a very turbulent period in Western Europe, and probably without American aid, things would have been much more complicated. Against this background, we can conclude today that such a crisis, such as the one on we are living with this coronavirus, with this pandemic that has hit even European Union countries, some of them very strongly, that by virtue of our history of the last 70 years it could be a stage in the strengthening of the European Union. Because, I repeat, the European Union was born out of a crisis, it was not the result of a party or a wedding banquet, it was the result of millions of graves on the European continent after World War II. So the European Union is practically permanently accompanied by crises, I would say that even today those who have to learn the lessons will have the opportunity to do so. And let’s hope that we have political figures at European level that will rise to the height of this moment,” he underlined.

Adrian Cioroianu said he was optimistic about finding a solution commonly accepted by the Northern and Southern countries of the EU regarding the measures to overcome the current crisis.

In his opinion, “Romania plays a bigger role than we are willing to accept” in the world market.

“Some people already know this. And let me just give you some very recent examples. When, for one reason or another, the Romanian workforce has not been present in Europe in recent months, it has suddenly become obvious, including for us, its value. On the other hand, when Romania declared that wheat exports were stopped – I guarantee you, it is no secret – there were telephone calls that were received in Bucharest, from various parts of the world wheat market, from the European Union, but also outside the European Union, something that suggest that this is also an asset that we are not aware of in public discourse. Because at the level of ministries, I guarantee you that there are people who know these things, at least in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that I know a little better, but, obviously, that these are not people to appear on TV because this is not their job description,” Cioroianu said.

The diplomat lamented the fact that, “unfortunately, untrue things are sometimes said in our television shows and especially, our role is minimized in a way”.

 

Cristian Diaconescu: Romania’s integration into EU and NATO, most significant historical achievement

 

Romania’s integration into the EU and NATO is the most significant historical achievement in terms of the country’s modernization, and the current pandemic crisis will test both the confidence of the Union’s citizens and the European institutions’ capacity of crisis response, says the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cristian Diaconescu, first vice-president of the People’s Movement Party (PMP).

“From Romania’s point of view, I deem the integration in the EU together with the one within the North Atlantic Alliance as being the most significant historical achievement in terms of our country’s modernization. (…) The COVID-19 pandemic will test, during this period, both the confidence of the citizens in the Union, but also the European institutions’ capacity to respond to the crisis,” Diaconescu specified in a statement for AGERPRES, in the context of the celebration, on May 9, of Europe Day.

In his opinion, “there is no other major political alternative for Romania”.

“The benefits of EU integration on all levels, from the political to the social and economic ones, are well known to Romanian society, at least as it shows especially from the electoral moments regarding the EU, it continues to be convinced, in an overwhelming proportion, of the benefits that European integration has brought to our country,” Diaconescu underlined.

As for the role Romania will continue to play in the EU, he voiced his hope that our country will have a significant presence and will support through all its efforts the recovery of the Union’s internal cohesion and solidarity.

“In the future, in terms of Romania’s profile in the EU, I would very much like our country to have a significant presence and, from this point of view, to support through all national efforts the recovery of the EU’s internal cohesion and solidarity,” said the former Foreign Affairs minister.

Cristian Diaconescu mentioned that Europe Day marks, in 2020, the 70th anniversary of the historical declaration of the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman, in Paris, when the idea of political cooperation in Europe was launched, which made the idea of war between European states to become inconceivable.

“Today we have 446 million citizens living in 27 Member States, 23 official languages and obviously a significant history as regards the EU, both in Europe and globally. The EU has managed to become a a significant area in terms of the rules of democratic functioning, fundamental rights and freedoms, the rule of law, but also an extremely interesting market in trade and global relations, being practically the most desirable market for cooperation for all the states of the world in trade relations,” underlined Cristian Diaconescu.

 

Corlatean:  Symbolism of Schuman Declaration is now more valid than ever, EU has shown that it does not fully operate as a united, solidary body during the pandemic

 

Romania’s former Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean says the Schuman Declaration of May 9, 1950, because of its symbolism, is more valid than ever, because, given that during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic period the EU has shown that “it does not fully operate” as a united, solidary body.

“May 9 is Europe Day and this year marks the 70th anniversary of the French foreign minister’s famous speech to the international press, the so-called Schuman Declaration. The declaration was made after Schuman had to convince the French Government of the ideas he wanted to promote. He proposed a vision of an organised Europe based on co-operative relations – the future of a united Europe. What was the main idea? The call was for France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg to make a historic gesture after the WWII to pool together their coal and steel industries, a sector that was the base of the military industry, and practically to lay the foundations of a supranational European institution that would allow a formula of much closer co-operation among countries that had been on enemy positions in WWII, and which, practically, through this co-operation, to eliminate the risk of war,” Corlatean told AGERPRES on Friday.

He emphasised that “Schuman’s visionary idea, to which Jean Monnet actually contributed”, was the basis of the future united Europe and recalled that then, at the Milan Summit in 1985, the leaders of the European Community decided that day May 9 should be Europe Day.

“Its symbolism is more valid than ever, especially in this period of crisis, of health, pandemic and economic crisis, because the idea of close co-operation at a European level, of a partnership that includes solidarity, is an extremely precious idea during this trying period, when the EU has demonstrated that it does not fully operate as a united and solidary body; there have been failures this time, and unfortunately, disappointment has arisen in some EU member states, especially among the public. The case of Italy is obvious, which is why it is important to remember, during the trying period, the benefits of the EU design of a united Europe in all the past decades, because Europe has reached a level of prosperity, democracy, respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, of free movement, a level that other continents have not,” added Corlatean.

According to the former head of Romanian diplomacy, the Schuman Declaration must be an incentive for pro-European forces not to abandon the design of a united Europe.

“So the Schuman Declaration of May 9, 1950, through its symbolism, is more valid than ever. It must be an incentive for pro-European forces, for political actors, for decision-makers, for civil society not to abandon in any way the design of a united and more solidary Europe, which will give the answers expected by the citizens during trying times, as it is the current period,” Corlatean pointed out.

 

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