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January 27, 2023
DIPLOMACY

President Iohannis on Romania’s failed attempt to join the Schengen Area: Culprits are not to be found in Bucharest, nor in Romania

On Wednesday, while addressing Romania’s failed attempt to join the Schengen Area, President Klaus Iohannis stated that “the guilty are not to be found in Bucharest, nor in Romania.”

“I have seen that there are many public advisors who create expectations related to the Council meeting of today and tomorrow. I can tell you right from the start that I will have many discussions, I will raise the matter in the plenary of the Council, I will explain once again why Romania must become part of the Schengen Area, but practical solutions will be found in the next JHA Council, which will be better prepared. I don’t even think that anyone imagined that from last week to today Austria or the Netherlands have changed their attitude and that we are going to solve today in the European Council what we couldn’t solve last week in the JHA meeting. It’s not good to have such expectations, because they don’t come true. A lot of work is needed. We all got involved, the colleagues who are now with me in the room and who are intensely concerned with these matters and the relevant ministers, they also did their job. So that’s why the hunt for culprits that started right after our failure in some environment seemed a little strange to me. The culprits are not to be found in Bucharest, nor in Romania. You know very well why it was not possible to get the vote, but we are not discouraged. In no case will I give up until Romania becomes a member of Schengen,” said Iohannis, before participating in the European Union – Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.

He stated that in the case of Romania’s accession to Schengen, nothing more could be done, because Austria’s change of attitude occurred just a few days before the meeting of the Justice and Internal Affairs Council.

“No, there was nothing more that we could have done, because the change of attitude occurred only a few days before the JHA and was not motivated by what we or the Bulgarians or others did. There are other more political motivations involved and it was not possible to get a change of attitude. (…) It could not be anticipated, because you probably remember that on November 16, so shortly before the JHA Council meeting, the interior ministers met in Bucharest, including the Austrian interior minister, and they all were enthusiastic and agreed that Romania entered Schengen, and then after a few days and with insufficient time, even based on the procedure, it was not possible to postpone the voting from the JHA meeting because it was this change of attitude that happened there,” stated the head of state.

 

I will raise the topic of Romania’s accession to the Schegen area in the European Council meeting

 

President Klaus Iohannis on Wednesday said he would raise the topic of Romania’s accession to the Schegen area in the European Council meeting.

“I shall raise the Schengen topic. (…) It is very clear that we, Romanians, want to be part of the Schengen area. Entering Schengen remains a main objective and it remains a main objective for me, in my capacity as Romania’s president, for the following period. (…) I have seen there are many public advisors creating expectations related to today’s and tomorrow’s Council meeting. I can tell you from the start that I will have many talks, I shall raise the matter in the Council plenary meeting, I shall explain once more why Romania must become a part of the Schengen area, but practical solutions will be found in the next JHA Council meeting, which will be better prepared,” the head of state said, before attending the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (EU-ASEAN) Summit.

He said that in order to reach this objective two issues needed to be solved: Austria’s attitude, which is reserved, and Holland’s vote that was a mixture, for Romania, in favour, for Bulgaria partly against.

According to Iohannis these matters need to be solved via diplomacy.

“Anything else, in my opinion is out of the question. I have heard in the recent days countless opinions, counsels and so on. I want to say it very clearly: there will not be any boycott against Austria on behalf of the state or the public authorities. This is not how such matters are dealt with,” Iohannis said.

Iohannis pointed out he would continue the talks with several foreign officials on the Schengen topic.

“We’ll have the Swedish presidency of the Council of the EU, and I have already had some talks with the new Swedish Prime Minister and I shall continue to do so. Even these days, I shall have a whole series of talks to see how we can best approach these matters, how we can approach Austria, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, how we can make the next step. Because the next step must be a success. No one wants, neither us, or others, to reach once more a JHA Council meeting with a negative vote. This will not happen again, because it’s not goof to have such negative approches twice. I shall have meetings with the Commission President, who is coming to Bucharest on Saturday, where a memorandum for electric connection crossing the Black Sea will be signed, a very important event nonetheless, and then I will have another discussion with a special focus on the Schengen topic, I shall have a discussion with the Czech Prime Minister, who has a few days left of the presidency and some rather technical things surely can still be done. I shall have meetings with the Swedish Prime Minister and we shall also start the discussion with the Austrians. We cannot and we mustn’t avoid such talks. In the end, the solution must come from the whole package,” Iohannis pointed out.

He showed a mention on Romania’s accession to Schengen in Thursday’s European Council is most likely impossible.

“The Council works on unanimity. Conclusions can only be adopted in case of unanimity, and the same retained attitudes in the JHA Council meeting still persist and then we cannot think that we’ll get a spectacular result. We are in the phase in which we must resume, not exactly from zero, but from a quite basic level all the discussions, build once more the whole approach, more persistently, more persuasively, nonetheless it will required time. Please do not expect that today or tomorrow there will be a clear decision on the accession in the Council meeting, however, I can tell you that I personally imagine an accession is possible next year, in 2023,” Iohannis said.

The head of state explained there hadn’t been any conditions for Romania imposed by Austria, but these were addressed to the European Commission and to the manner in which the Commission could stop illegal migration.

“We can contribute, as we are working together with the Commission as well, but Austria’s argument wasn’t one built against Romania or against Bulgaria. They used this stage to show they have too many migrants, and, in this situation, they do not believe the Schengen area should be enlarged. Therefore, their argument wasn’t anti-Romanian or anti-Bulgarian, it was an argument related to illegal migration,” Iohannis said.

Furthermore, he said negative reactions from Romanians about the accession to Schengen might come up.

“My hope is that, if we approach the process very seriously and in the end we come up with a solution, and I am determined to come up with a solution, those people will see that it was a syncope and not a full rejected of Romania. If we talk rejection, let’s see how enthusiastic have been all the others who have supported us, countries that have no obligation to come and support us vocally have done so. I believe this is, if I may say so, in all the negative atmosphere, an important point. I am not, we are not alone, we are desired in the Union, we are regarded as a serious partner and we are desired in the Schengen area. Nonetheless we must overcome this syncope. It’s useless falling in a mass depression not solving absolutely anything,” said Iohannis.

 

Romania will not challenge Austria’s veto on Schengen matter with the European Court of Justice

 

Romania will not challenge Austria’s veto with the European Court of Justice, in the case regarding Romania’s accession to Schengen, President Klaus Iohannis stated on Wednesday.

“Thinking hastily and emotionally, all sort of analysts come up with various solutions, but I can tell you that Romania will not challenge this matter with the European Court of Justice,” the head of state said in Brussels, prior to attending the European Union (EU) – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.

 

I don’t think decoupling Romania from Bulgaria in Schengen file is a good solution

 

President Klaus Iohannis said on Wednesday he did not believe decoupling Romania from Bulgaria on the accession to the Schengen file was a good solution, adding that such an option would be a last resort solution.

“Purely theoretically, the matter with the Dutch vote has two solutions: either the Netherlands changing their option and saying ‘yes’ to both Romania and Bulgaria, or a separate voting, in which the vote for Romania remains a ‘yes’ and the one for Bulgaria a ‘no’. I personally believe that entering Schengen together is considerably better, preferable to the other option. Imagine what happens if Bulgaria, which is not precisely a great European force, it is a good neighbour and partner of ours, remains alone to face the migration wave that hasn’t ceased. I do not think it is a good solution. The decoupling solution would be a last resort solution, nonetheless which me and my team do not seek. We seek an option to join the area together,” Iohannis said before attending the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (EU-ASEAN) Summit.

Iohannis showed that for the Justice and Home Affairs Council also prepared was an option of setting off Romania’s entrance from that of Bulgaria, and not decoupling it.

“The procedures, here, in Brussels, the European procedures are very complex and they allow very many approaches. What the Interior Minister prepared and presented had been prepared with my team and didn’t include a decoupling, it included a set-off, namely Romania entering first and Bulgaria afterwards, but a joint voting, only the actual entrance dates to be different and the verification requirements to be somewhat adapted to each country,” the head of state said.

When asked if this decoupling was still considered, Iohannis said: “This is what I and we all shall find out from very many discussions and negotiations with all those involved. We must see things as they are. This negative vote has a strong impact all over the Union, because we work on unity, solidarity, we don’t want to reach any conflict between us, we want to reach solutions together and then it can be found that everywhere people are trying to find the most positive option and that is why I believe the diplomatic solution is the only feasible one, but we’ll need a certain amount of time.”

 

Compiled from Agerpres

Photo: www.presidency.ro

 

 

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