President Klaus Iohannis declared on Saturday, after receiving the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen for the Unity of Europe, that the completion of Romania’s integration in the Schengen Area should be an objective for the Union European, and not just for our country.
“In order for the Schengen Area to become fully functional and efficient, it is necessary for all Member States that meet the conditions to be part of it. Romania is one of the states that has been acting as a de facto member of the Schengen for over 10 years. The completion of this integration process is not only an objective for Romania, but it should be an objective for the European Union,” Iohannis underlined.
He opined that in order to achieve the goal of consolidating the Single Market, a fully functional and efficient free movement area is needed.
The head of state considers that the European Single Market is the link between the EU member states, that it defines the essence of the European project and brings concrete benefits to the citizens of Europe.
“It is our duty to ensure that all our efforts guarantee the maintenance of this common good – the Single Market and its four fundamental freedoms, whose importance has been highlighted by the health crisis,” said Klaus Iohannis.
According to him, the challenges posed by the pandemic have revealed a number of weaknesses both in the health sector and at the social and economic level.
“These is clear proof of the need to strengthen the European Union’s strategic resilience, both internally and in the immediate vicinity,” Iohannis said.
According to a statement from the Presidential Administration, the Board of Directors of the Society for the Conferring of the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen decided to award President Klaus Iohannis the prize for 2020 in recognition of his merits as he “has led Romania to espouse a pro-European policy committed to the rule of law”, “for the efforts made to strengthen the European Union and promote cooperation between its Member States”, as well as for being “a great proponent of fairness, of protection of minorities and of cultural diversity, as well as being a leading mediator and bridge-builder between Western and Eastern European societies”.
EU needs more than ever unity, solidarity, cohesion and a pragmatic, action-oriented approach and concrete results
President Klaus Iohannis said on Saturday after receiving the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen for the Unity of Europe, that the EU needs more than ever unity, solidarity, cohesion and a pragmatic, action-oriented approach and concrete results.
“Today’s challenges confirm that we need a stronger and more resilient Union. I would therefore like to stress the value of European common action, unity, education and European democracy at this time. A time when Europe and the entire whole world are facing important choices, with difficult moments, caused by a sudden derailment from everyday life, in front of an invisible enemy: a virus whose spread has generated the current pandemic and which has brought about the need for new answers, solutions or common tools at European and global level. In this special framework, the ten commitments highlighted in the Sibiu Declaration of 9 May 2019 remain fundamental, as the Union now needs more than ever unity, solidarity, cohesion and a pragmatic, action-oriented approach and concrete results,” said Klaus Iohannis.
He affirmed that EU member states had found the resources and capacity to turn trials into opportunities.
“Throughout its history, the European Union has been tried many times. We have gone through various crises together. Each time, however, the Member States have found the resources and capacity to turn trials into opportunities, to overcome difficulties and to strengthen our Union. This transformative and adaptive capacity makes the Union a solid and sustainable construction. There were also times, such as during the pandemic we are still going through, when we, as a Union, could have acted better and offered a more prompt response to the European citizens’ expectations. In Romania’s view, we can live up to the expectations of our citizens only together, more united, more cohesive and not through retreats or narrow circles of European integration,” he said.
In his opinion, despite all the difficulties at the beginning of this period, the EU Member States have identified solutions and – most importantly – have shown solidarity.
“The strength of the Union has helped us to overcome the most difficult moments. I believe that the decisions that were taken at European level in 2020, starting from those that proved indispensable to the management of the crisis, but especially the approval of the European Recovery Plan, are a concrete reflection of the interpretation once given to a united Europe by Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer: ‘European unity was the dream of a few. It became the hope of many. It is now a necessity for us all’,” Klaus Iohannis said.
The President said that the prize received has a “special significance” for him and the citizens of Romania.
“The values and principles of democracy and of European unity represent the foundation of the Union, the binder of the member states. They are the essence of this continent, the source of the well-being, security and safety of our societies. Therefore, this award has a special significance for today’s Romania and for the Romanian citizens, who have fought over the years to find themselves as part of the European project and who believe with conviction in the democratic values that are representative and defining for the European Union,” President Iohannis added.
Relationship with USA, dimension in which Europe needs to invest the most
The relationship with the United States is the dimension in which Europe must continue to invest the most in terms of partnerships, President Klaus Iohannis said on Saturday upon receiving the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen for the Unity of Europe.
“Among partnerships, the EU-US relationship certainly remains the piece of resistance and the dimension in which Europe must continue to invest the most. Europe needs the continuation of the US commitment to ensure its security, stability and common prosperity, just as the United States needs a strong Europe, capable of managing crises in its neighborhood,” Iohannis said.
He affirmed that the United States and the European Union remain “the cornerstones of global democracy.”
“A genuine democracy cannot manifest itself without the capacity of the citizen, of the new generations of European citizens, to participate in the public sphere, to make their voice heard. This capacity must be formed through European education, so as to provide opportunities for all to develop critical thinking, to develop resistance to manipulation, misinformation or propaganda. I believe that there is room for reflection on the way tools such as Erasmus+ can be used more effectively to respond to the need for education in order to develop critical thinking regarding the risks associated with informational aggression, but also for strengthening participation in democratic processes,” Iohannis also declared.
According to him, even if young people must remain the priority group in this endeavor, it would be extremely useful if these efforts related to democracy and citizenship become part of lifelong learning plans.
On the other hand, he appreciated that for Romania the accession to the European Union meant “returning to the family” with which it shared the same values and principles.
In his opinion, freedom of speech and democratic values are cherished by Romanians precisely because they have lived for decades in a society in which freedom of expression was not possible.
“For us, the European project is a political, economic and social project that has enhanced Romania’s modernization. In our turn, today we make an important contribution to the European construction. Supporting the European project, avoiding divisions, getting involved in EU decision-making represent an intrinsic dimension of the deeply pro-European profile of Romania. The spirit of the Sibiu Declaration of May 9, 2019, the spirit of Sibiu – fully demonstrates this profile. This award reminds me of the value of the European Union for the Member States, for the citizens and for the history of this continent. We have the duty to consolidate this project, which remains the only viable option for a democratic, prosperous and stable Europe,” Iohannis added.
Compiled from Agerpres