Romania’s Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu had a meeting in Washington DC on Tuesday with US Secretary of Homeland Security (SOHS) Alejandro Mayorkas, to discuss the inclusion of Romania in the Visa Waiver Program and the steps to be taken to achieve the goal.
According to the Romanian Foreign Ministry (MAE), Aurescu underlined that this objective of Romania’s inclusion in the Visa Waiver program remains a high priority both on the bilateral and the European agenda.
He pointed out that the tangible results of the intense bilateral dialogue on this subject are highly anticipated by Romanian citizens, being a common goal, included in the 2011 Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership for the 21st Century and reconfirmed in all conversations that Romania has had at the highest level with US authorities in recent years.
Aurescu welcomed Mayorkas’ statement on October 26 that Romania is being considered for inclusion in the Visa Waiver Program. The Romanian dignitary noted the positive signal thus sent by the American Administration regarding the availability of co-operation in order to ensure the necessary conditions for Romania’s accession to this programme. In his turn, Mayorkas reaffirmed that the inclusion of Romania in the programme is a priority with the US, voicing his commitment to co-operate closely with the Romanian side to move the file forward, adding that a joint effort on both sides is needed.
Aurescu and Mayorkas agreed to intensify the bilateral dialogue, both in Bucharest and in Washington, in a way that allows actual progress with the inclusion of Romania in the Visa Waiver Program. To that end, it was agreed that the bilateral working group on this subject would have more frequent meetings on the components of the file.
The head of the Romanian diplomacy also reiterated the interest of the Romanian side in establishing and implementing a roadmap and continuing regularly talks to the point in order to clarify the reasons that were the basis for the denial in recent years of visa applications filed by Romanian citizens that led to a denial rate of around 10% in the US fiscal year 2020. A denial rate below 3% is the last criterion that must be met by Romania to be included in the programme. Aurescu argued that such details are particularly useful for steering and calibrating as accurately as possible a common public awareness campaign in order to reduce the visa denial rate.