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ForMin Aurescu: Handling of refugee situation, argument that Romania deserves to join Schengen

The way Romania has handled the situation of refugees from Ukraine is a powerful argument for the fact that our country is already acting as a Schengen member state, Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu said on Monday in the opening of the debate on “15 years since Romania’s accession to the EU. Romania’s contribution to the EU and its role in strengthening the Union”.

“The way Romania has handled the situation of refugees from Ukraine is yet another powerful argument that our country is already acting as a Schengen member state and that it deserves to join de jure the free movement area. In the current crisis context, the associated states in the vicinity of Union have shown that they want to develop in peace and security, in accordance with European values. From this perspective, the submission by Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia of their applications for EU membership shows these states’ firm will to be part of the Union, an objective that Romania strongly supports. They are joining the other states in the Western Balkans that are already in various stages of the accession process, a process that needs to be revitalized and completed,” the Romanian top diplomat said.

He stressed that the transatlantic relationship and the EU’s strategic partnership with NATO are “the key to overcoming” major challenges, such as those in recent months.

“The terrible war that is being waged near our eastern borders, with so many innocent civilian casualties, victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed by Russian troops, shows us again how important it is to continue to strengthen our strategic resilience, both within the country and at EU level and with our partners in the regional and international alliances and partnerships of which we are an active part. We are also once again aware of the importance of strengthening the EU’s capacity to project its core values in its vicinity. For a more resilient Union globally, in terms of security, we need a strong transatlantic relationship, the development of capability interoperability and the mobilization of efforts in full complementarity with NATO,” said Minister Bogdan Aurescu.

He stressed that Romania contributes “substantially” to the effort aimed at managing the situation at the EU’s external border and receiving refugees. Thus, since the beginning of the conflict, our country has offered direct support to a number of 927,000 refugees, of whom over 89,000 have chosen to remain in Romania. He also referred to the humanitarian hub in Suceava, from where more than 35 humanitarian convoys from Member States were sent to Ukraine. He noted that the involvement of the citizens who have helped the refugees has been “a direct expression of the authentic European spirit” of the Romanians.

“Romania has proven to be a reliable and consistent partner, both at EU level and in its relationship with the Eastern Neighborhood. Our substantial contribution to the management of the crisis generated by Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine has further highlighted the potential of our action and our role at regional level. It is a complicated, dramatic time for many Europeans, a time when the need for peace and security is higher than ever. It is undoubtedly a turning point in Europe’s history, and the unprecedented and decisive action taken by the EU, the support measures taken by the Member States, the open arms reception of refugees fleeing the war, the continuous and multidimensional assistance granted to Ukraine, a victim of Russia’s illegal and immoral invasion, are defining for the European spirit,” the Foreign Minister also said.

He went on to say that the last 15 years have brought a profound change in the Romanian society, both economically and socially, but also in terms of the freedom to move, to study in the European Union. After joining the EU, Romania has continued an accelerated process of intense reforms and transformations.

The Romanian Foreign Affairs Minister noted that the conference proceedings on Europe’s future showed that Romanians support a “consolidated and united” European Union, “the need for a more resilient Union internally and externally”, for a “solid, secure and efficient Union”, capable of providing the prerequisites for well-being and security.

“Unfortunately, at present, the tragic developments in our immediate vicinity brutally remind us that achieving this ideal, of belonging to the Union, has been and is for Romania and its citizens the only option and guarantee – along with, of course, NATO membership – for sustainable development in peace, democracy, security and prosperity,” the Romanian chief diplomat also specified, according to Agerpres.

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