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January 26, 2023
DIPLOMACY

Foreign Minister Aurescu, Austrian counterpart Schallenberg discuss Romania’s Schengen bid on sidelines of World Economic Forum

Minister of Foreign Affairs Bogdan Aurescu had on Thursday a bilateral meeting with his Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, with the two top diplomats focusing on Romania’s Schengen entry.

The meeting comes in continuation of the previous contacts of the two officials following Austria’s veto at the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on December 8, 2022, the Foreign Affairs Ministry informed.

“Minister Bogdan Aurescu addressed to his Austrian counterpart the appeal of the Romanian side for a constructive attitude of cooperation, of reconsidering its previous position and of advancing on the path of commitment to dialogue and openness on the part of Austria for the identification in the next period of solutions to overcome the stalemate caused by Austria’s unfounded position,” the Foreign Ministry said.

In this context, Aurescu underscored that Romania’s expectation regarding its admission to the Schengen Area is considered legitimate and fully justified by all the other European partners, as well as by the European institutions, which acknowledged the efforts and progress made by Romania on all levels, as its preparedness to apply the provisions of the Schengen acquis have been repeatedly confirmed by EU and member state experts, most recently on the occasion of the two fact-finding evaluation missions in October and November 2022, the release of the Foreign Affairs Ministry reads.

Minister Aurescu assured that Romania will continue to be a part of the solution for strengthening security and effectively protecting the external border of the European Union, for the benefit of all European citizens. He also emphasized that Romania’s accession is to Austria’s advantage, because the further the EU’s external frontier is from Austria’s borders, the safer and more protected these borders are.

Also, Aurescu showed that Romania maintains its openness to the concerns of the Austrian side related to the increase in illegal migration, reiterating the constructive approach regarding support for the adoption and implementation at European level of concrete measures to combat this phenomenon and strengthen the external borders of the Union, although the Romanian side rejects the artificial connection between its Schengen admission and European developments related to the combat of illegal migration, as it is not located on the Western Balkan migratory route, nor is it a source of secondary movements towards Austria, as statistics by Frontex and other relevant agencies very clearly show.

The Romanian Foreign Minister informed his Austrian counterpart about the very good dynamics of the cooperation with the Swedish Presidency of the EU Council, which confirmed its active support for the fast advancement of this file, including by the recent statements of the Swedish Prime Minister in the plenary session of the European Parliament, as he presented the priorities of the Presidency, and by the assurances the Swedish Foreign Minister gave Minister Aurescu during their meeting on January 11, when he emphasized that the Swedish Presidency considers Romania’s accession as a priority and that it will initiate in the following period a process of consultations with all the actors involved.

Bogdan Aurescu evoked the need to restore the atmosphere of trust in the Romanian-Austrian relationship amid the negative sentiment caused in bilateral relations by Austria’s veto to Romania’s Schengen bid.

Minister Aurescu took note of the willingness expressed by his Austrian counterpart to get involved in promoting a constructive, open approach, for the benefit of the bilateral relationship and European cooperation between Romania and Austria. He also took note of the Austrian counterpart’s position that the Interior Ministries of the two countries should continue to be involved mainly on the file, while the Foreign Ministries should facilitate dialogue. The Austrian Foreign Minister expressed, as a matter of principle and with a preliminary step, openness for a work plan covering the discussed topics.

Aurescu also informed Schallenberg about the Romanian side’s ongoing efforts to further promote the goal of Romania’s accession to the free movement area, mentioning the recent talks with a number of European counterparts and their reaffirming their unwavering support for a positive decision in the shortest possible time.

Minister Aurescu recently had a series of talks and bilateral meetings with counterparts from Sweden, Spain, Denmark, Portugal, Poland and the Czech Republic, that all reconfirmed the fact that Romania can count on the constructive and active involvement of EU partners for an effective support for Romania’s legitimate goal of joining the Schengen Area. Also, the Finnish Minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering was recently received in Bucharest.

Regarding the decision announced by President Klaus Iohannis following Thursday’s discussion with Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen, to return the Romanian ambassador to the Republic of Austria, Minister Aurescu reiterated that this decision reflects, first of all, Romania’s desire to unlock the current situation, to advance on the path of identifying constructive solutions and facilitating a dynamic dialogue through all available channels.

According to the rules of diplomatic law, an ambassador is accredited to serve before the head of the host country, in this case President Van der Bellen. The Austrian president publicly declared after the vote in the JHA Council that he deeply regrets the Austrian government’s decision to block Romania’s accession, a step that cannot contribute to the solution of migration-related problems, which can only be solved through joint efforts at European level, and that he hopes that a solution through dialogue will soon be possible.

Romania’s ambassador to Austria was called back to the country for consultations on December 9, 2022, the Romanian side’s decision being, according to diplomatic customs, a political gesture expressing firm disagreement with Austria’s conduct. The ambassador’s return is an additional act of goodwill by Romania for the sake of cooperation and the use of all available channels to achieve the priority goal of joining Schengen as soon as possible, says the Foreign Ministry.

Minister Aurescu also had discussions in Davos with Energias de Portugal CEO Miguel Stilwell d’Andrade. “Romania and Portugal share the interest in advancing renewables’ development via investments & sound policy-making,” Aurescu wrote on Twitter.

He also met with SNC Lavalin representatives Ian Edwards and William Young to discuss plans for the development of nuclear energy in Romania. “Welcomed their company’s important involvement in Romania, at Cernavoda, and shared views on the future and importance of this sector in such challenging times,” the Foreign Minister also wrote.

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